Secretary-General urges countries to step up legal protection for UN staff

Secretary-General urges countries to step up legal protection for UN staff

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
The vast majority of United Nations Member States are yet to ratify or accede to a protocol extending legal protection for UN staff beyond those serving in peacekeeping missions to all operations delivering humanitarian, political or development assistance, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

The Optional Protocol to the 1994 Convention on the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel entered into force last year, but 169 countries “are still not part of this regime,” Mr. Ban said in a message marking the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members.

“I call on all States that have not done so to ratify or accede to the convention and its protocol without delay.”

Stephen Kisambira, the President of the UN Staff Union, echoed the Secretary-General’s call to Member States, adding that countries should not only “ratify those agreements, but take determined steps to implement them.”

He congratulated the Singaporean Parliament for having recently passed the UN Personnel Act, which criminalizes attacks against UN staff, premises and vehicles.

Last year at least 28 UN civilian staff were detained or arrested worldwide in cases considered to be job-related, while another 12 UN police and civilians were abducted – including one civilian staff member who was held captive in Darfur for nearly three months.

Mr. Ban paid tribute to the work of UN and associated personnel, as well as colleagues in the press and the non-governmental community, for their “vital, life-saving missions for people in crisis and need throughout the world.”

The International Day commemorates the anniversary of the abduction of Alec Collett, who was working for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) when he was taken in Lebanon in 1985. His body was finally found in 2009.