UN staff security summit told terrorists now view the organization as the enemy

12 December 2003
USG Catherine Bertini addresses summit

Meeting under the theme of “After Baghdad: United Nations Workers Under The Gun,” the UN Staff Union’s annual summit on security has been warned by the Security Council President that the UN “is no longer seen by terrorists as a neutral force, but rather as an enemy.”

Ambassador Stefan Tafrov of Bulgaria, Council President for December, told the summit in New York yesterday that UN staff security was a priority for the Security Council, especially after the 19 August bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad, which killed 22 people, including the top envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Representing Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN Security Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Management Catherine Bertini said “in more and more crises the UN flag has become a target rather than a shield.”

Ms. Bertini said Mr. Annan had called for a strategic reorganization of UN security following Baghdad, adding plans were already being developed to heighten and improve security measures, including placing anti-shatter film on UN buildings in New York.

General Assembly President Julian R. Hunte of St. Lucia said that although the attack in Baghdad had been a shocking one for the UN, it was not the first for the organization. He said some 2,000 UN workers had been killed or had disappeared since 1945.

While UN operations would have to change as a result of the attack, Mr. Hunte added, host countries still bore the main responsibility for the safety of UN staff in the field. He said the UN should treat each dangerous situation individually, tailoring the security model accordingly.

UN Staff Union President Rosemarie Waters, urging Member States to ratify the Convention on the Protection of UN Staff, said all reports on facts on the Baghdad attack should be made public.

She said “those who actions and faulty decisions had led to the Baghdad tragedy should be identified, rather than sacrificing lower-level employees to satisfy public opinion.”

Ms. Waters also called for greater investment in staff security and for staff to be allowed to become involved in security processes.


Video of security summit


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