Marking the annual United Nations Staff Day, Deputy Secretary-General Louis Fréchette today paid tribute the UN workers who lost their lives in the line of duty over the past year.
In remarks at a memorial ceremony outside UN Headquarters in New York, the Deputy Secretary-General noted that 57 peacekeepers and six civilian staff have been killed since Staff Day last year. “These numbers are grim reminder of the real and mortal danger faced by UN staff in the field, more than anyone else in the Organization,” she said.
Ms. Fréchette said Secretary-General Kofi Annan was exploring the possibility of using the money from last year’s Nobel Peace Prize to establish a “United Nations Nobel Peace Prize Memorial Trust Fund” for the education of children of staff members who have lost their lives while working for the world body.
In addition, she said the UN has taken important steps to strengthen its ability to protect field staff, including the establishment of a full-time UN Security Coordinator, as well as the adoptiion of a package of proposals to increase the number of personnel dedicated to staff security, improve their training and equipment and enhance the accountability of UN managers responsible for security-related decisions.
In another address to mark Staff Day, the Deputy Secretary-General noted that this was a tense and troubled moment in world affairs, with the recent car bombing in Bali underscoring both “the degree to which the fight against terrorism has quickly become one of the main priorities of the United Nations, and the importance of international cooperation in that struggle.”
Ms. Fréchette also stressed that Staff Day was a time to contemplate “our roles and responsibilities, and on how we can better respond to perennial and emerging challenges.” Any organization, whether local or multilateral, whether focused on a single issue or on the human condition, must deliver for its constituents, she said.
“But the United Nations, as the repository for so much of humankind’s hopes for a peaceful, equitable global order, has a special responsibility to be strong and effective, and to keep pace with the times,” she said.
The Deputy Secretary-General then went on to list some highlights of the Secretary-General’s report on UN reform, mentioning such changes as flexible working arrangements, new recruiting procedures and the establishment of a UN Ombudsman.
“Together, they add up to a very different way of doing business,” she said.