Honouring missing UN staff, Ban Ki-moon calls for heightened security for personnel
Increased security is crucial in allowing United Nations personnel – peacekeepers, civilian staff and others – to carry out their tasks without fear of harm, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members.
“Kidnapping, assault, robbery, theft, harassment and detention continue to be grim realities for United Nations personnel and our colleagues in the media and non-governmental [NGO] community,” Mr. Ban said, as 14 UN staff members are under arrest, detained or missing to date.
“Let us pledge to redouble our efforts to provide staff with the protection and measures they need to carry out their vital missions,” he added in his message on the occasion on 25 March.
Given the surge in the number of UN staff working in the field, as well as the Organization’s increased activities in more sensitive tasks such as criminal justice, staff security is critical. “I urge governments and all involved to uphold their responsibilities, from prevention to protection – and prosecution when violations and crimes have occurred,” Mr. Ban said.
“Legal protection is essential for international and national staff alike,” he said, urging Member States to respect the Convention on the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel, to which 81 countries are party and another 43 have signed.
Mr. Ban also paid tribute to Alec Collet, who, while working for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Beirut, was abducted by armed men 22 years ago on 25 March, which is the official date of the Day’s observance. He has not been seen since and his case has not been resolved.