|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
8th Meeting (AM)
Delegates Argue Legitimacy of Targeted Sanctions as Legal Committee
Concludes Debate on Special Charter Committee
Crimes by Officials Undermine Trust in Organization, Speakers State
As They Take Up Criminal Accountability, Need for International Convention
Arbitrary, unilateral sanctions infringed on development, violated human rights, defied the rule of law and harmed innocent people and States, delegates told the Sixth Committee (Legal), today, as it concluded its debate on the Special Committee on the Charter and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization and began consideration of criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission.
Several delegations had bragged about the “smartness” of sanctions, said Iran’s delegate, when on the contrary, they had targeted ordinary citizens. The terms “smart” and “targeted” were highly hypocritical euphemisms that described the most inhuman and brutal instrument of foreign policy.
Like the Iranian delegate, the representatives of Iraq, Nigeria and Morocco urged that sanctions imposed on certain countries not spill over to innocent States. Prudent, targeted sanctions must be used as a last resort after exhausting all means of peaceful settlement, stated the delegations.
Despite calls by some to remove “assistance to third States affected by sanctions” from the Special Committee’s agenda, the representative of Venezuela said the matter should remain for permanent consideration. Sanctions should be finite and lifted once objectives had been achieved. To ensure such an approach, the Security Council should be immediately reformed.
Reform was also necessary in the work of the Special Committee, said Cuba’s delegate. That work was being “sabotaged” by some developed States who wished to see it “abolished”. “For more than 20 years, we had been trying to reform the Security Council and approve a convention on terrorism to no effect,” he said. Efficiency might be gained through the creation of more working groups where Member States’ views could be heard.
Turning to criminal accountability, the representative of Norway said serious crimes committed by United Nations personnel, including sexual exploitation and abuse, challenged the very essence of the Organization, endangered its integrity, undermined the trust and support it enjoyed, and harmed its ability to fulfil its important responsibilities.
Returning to events in 2004, the delegate of the Democratic Republic of Congo recalled that peacekeepers in his country had engaged in sexual abuse and exploitation. The exemplary picture of soldiers keeping the peace and working in unstable and often dangerous conditions had been tarnished. The zero-tolerance policy for such criminal acts needed to be upheld and States should consider conclusion of a convention on the matter.
Such a convention was a long-term solution, said Ukraine’s delegate. In the meantime Member States should cooperate in investigations and prosecutions. Lauding the Organization’s predeployment trainings and awareness-raising efforts, Ukraine would do its part to foster accountability by hosting a regional workshop, next year, to frame a future model for United Nations policing.
Also speaking on the Special Committee on the Charter were the representatives of Algeria, Libya, Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Nicaragua, United States and Belarus.
Other speakers on Criminal Accountability were the representatives of Chile (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Egypt (for the African Group), Iran (for the Non-Aligned Movement), Delegation of the European Union, Australia (also for Canada and New Zealand), Republic of Korea, El Salvador, India and Russian Federation.
Speaking in a right of reply were the representatives of Republic of Korea and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Committee will meet again Monday, 15 October, at 10 a.m. to resume its debate on criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission and to take up the annual report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).
The Sixth Committee (Legal) met today to conclude its consideration of the Special Committee on the Charter and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (for background see press release GA/L/3437) and to take up the issue of criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission.
The Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report on criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (document A/67/213). Sections II and III of the report contain information received from Governments on the extent to which their national laws establish jurisdiction, in particular over crimes of a serious nature committed by their nationals while serving as United Nations officials or experts on mission.
Included in the report is information on cooperation among States and with the United Nations in the exchange of information and the facilitation of investigations and prosecution of such individuals. Section V and VI focus on bringing credible allegations to the attention of those States whose officials and experts on mission may have committed such crimes. From 1 July 2011 to 30 June this year, the Office of Legal Affairs referred the cases of 17 United Nations officials to States of nationality for investigation and prosecution.
The report also states that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support continued to implement the three-pronged strategy to address misconduct, in particular sexual exploitation and abuse, through preventive measures, the enforcement of United Nations standards of conduct and remedial action. Training, awareness-raising activities and preventive measures at the mission level remained at the centre of field mission activity.
The report goes on to note that resources were also allocated toward that end, both at Headquarters and in field missions. During the reporting period, there were 12 conduct and discipline teams in peacekeeping and special political missions supported by the Department of Field Support, covering 19 missions and the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy.
The report states that in October 2011, the Department of Field Support held a meeting with high-level United Nations representatives to formulate a renewed, proactive strategy to address sexual exploitation and abuse by mission personnel. Among the issues raised were the need for the review and strengthening of training materials and awareness-raising messages to ensure that standards and values were clearly communicated and understood. This will be addressed as part of the Integrated Conduct and Discipline Framework, with the objective of enhancing the integration of conduct and discipline in field missions as a global corporate function. Further, Switzerland urged the creation of an international convention to resolve criminal accountability issues in the long-term.
On the question of the establishment of jurisdiction over crimes of a serious nature, the report indicates that responses were received from El Salvador, Kuwait, Panama and Switzerland.
On the question of cooperation between States and with the United Nations in the exchange of information and the facilitation of investigations and prosecutions, reports were received from El Salvador, Finland, Kuwait and Panama.
FARID DAHMANE ( Algeria) said that full respect of United Nations provisions, in particular those that related to sanctions and to the balance of power among the Organization’s organs, was of utmost importance. Further, the Security Council needed to fully observe all Charter provisions and General Assembly resolutions which clarified its relationships with other organs.
He went on to say that the process of United Nations reform would benefit from the work by the Special Committee. The initiative, proposed by Venezuela, to create an open-ended working group that would study the proper implementation of the Charter as well as the proposal by Cuba on enhancing effectiveness would engender needed reforms as well.
The working methods of the Security Council Sanctions Committee should be more transparent, he continued, adding that sanctions, imposed for the maintenance of international peace and security, should be implemented cautiously to ensure a minimal impact on civilians and third States. Also, the question of limiting sanctions should be considered.
LESTER DELGADO SÁNCHEZ ( Cuba) said that a number of countries were trying to reinterpret the United Nations Charter to promote their own political agenda and to interfere in the internal affairs of other States. That trend was to the detriment of the sovereignty of States and peaceful relations. The Special Committee, as the lead United Nations organ on reforms of the Charter, must be preserved. Also important was the Special Committee’s full debate on any proposal and the adoption of any resolution or declaration to help the Organization fulfil its mandates.
Considerable progress had been made in the Special Committee, he said, even if some delegations had presented obstacles to finalization of decisions. The Committee could be better organized, however, possibly through further informal discussions in working groups so that Member States’ views could be taken into account.
He went on to say that the work of Special Committee was being “sabotaged” by some developed States who wished to see it “abolished”. Those developed States who said they did not agree, without further discussion, was a direct result of the lack of political will. “For more than 20 years, we had been trying to reform the Security Council and approve a convention on terrorism to no effect,” he stated. Efforts to update the Repertory and Repertoire were noted, but he said, in conclusion, that there was no justification for the delays in reproduction of the third volume of Repertory. The Secretary-General should deal with that matter effectively and make it a priority.
FATHALLA A. A. ALJADEY ( Libya) said that proposals, submitted by his country, called for reform of and improvement in the work of the United Nations. Most important was the revised Libyan paper that focused on certain principles pertaining to sanctions.
He went on to welcome the “somewhat notable” progress made in the Repertoire publication. However, he noticed that documents issued in Arabic “lagged” behind those issued in other languages. Stressing the importance of those documents, especially to legal researchers, university students and academic specialists, among others, he expressed hope that the delay in publication would be taken into consideration.
DIANA S. TARATUKHINA ( Russian Federation) stated that the Special Committee could resolve complex legal issues, based on international norms of law that related to the Organization’s work. Noting the different proposals made during the Special Committee’s recent session regarding its working methods, she urged that the work continue in an optimal manner and on a regular basis.
She went on to say that the Special Committee had in its portfolio a joint Russian-Belarusian proposal to request an advisory opinion for the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of States using force without prior Security Council authorization. Taking into account the current political processes in the world, and the unstable situation in many regions, it was “due time” that consensus on the matter to be reached in the Special Committee.
KIM YONG SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that double standards and infringements of sovereignty were becoming extreme in international relations. In justifying such acts, the United Nations was being abused. The Security Council “connived at” illegal armed invasions and air attacks that killed civilians, while legitimate and peaceful measures taken by developing countries to safeguard sovereignty and development were denounced as threats to international peace. There were even attempts to expand the Council’s authority to issues unrelated to international peace and security, thus weakening the authority of the General Assembly. The Special Committee should help expedite agreements already on the table and work out new proposals to strengthen the role of the Charter and the Organization.
Immediate steps were needed to amend practices that violated the Charter, he continued. He proposed establishing a mechanism to hold the Security Council accountable before the General Assembly. Ending the abuse of the Organization by individual countries was a prerequisite to strengthening the role of the Charter and of the Organization. He cited the United Nations Command in South Korea as an example of the abuse of the United Nations by an individual country, saying it had been illegally “invented” by the United States in 1950 and was, in fact, a United States Army command, having nothing to do with the United Nations, that the United States was using to conduct its hostile policy toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He urged the immediate dismantling of the United Nations Command in accordance with the resolution on the matter from the thirtieth session of the General Assembly.
LIHAN JOK ( Malaysia) expressed concern about the lack of progress in considering the proposals before the Special Committee, which was largely due to the working methods employed. He expressed hope that the Special Committee’s upcoming session would show a marked difference in how Member States approached the proposals at hand.
He went on to say that the International Court of Justice’s adherence to its prescribed mandates and observance of the rule of law was valued, and that, if that approach continued, Member States’ confidence would increase in the Court’s effectiveness. On the topic of sanctions, he said he was against their application, but noted that they could be considered as a last resort when there was a clear threat to international peace and security.
Further, he said that while the Security Council’s shift from comprehensive to targeted sanctions was appreciated, it was unfortunate that there had been no concrete recommendations on ways to assist third States affected. Stating his deep concern that certain sanction committees refused to share pertinent information on sanctions that affected Member States, he said that there was a dire need to inject greater transparency and fairness to the listing and delisting processes.
TAMARA TIJERINO (Nicaragua), stating her commitment to the Special Committee and affirming her continued participation in its work, said she welcomed the proposals by Ghana, Cuba and Venezuela and looked forward to others’ proposals that aimed at the effective implementation of the United Nations Charter. She noted with satisfaction the important exchange of dialogue at recent meetings of the Committee. Convinced that the Committee’s workload would increase in the future, she called for support of its work so that it could complete its mandate.
Her country was also pleased to work on the “peaceful settlement of disputes”, she said, noting that Nicaragua based its international relations on friendship and solidarity among people and had recognized and used the means for the peaceful settlement of disputes on many occasions. That topic must remain on the agenda of the committee. Noting that the Special Committee had important work before it, she said it did not make sense to reduce its sessions. On the contrary, it was important that it be given time to continue its work.
FATIMA AKILU, Director, Office of the National Security Advisor of Nigeria, said a precise measure was necessary to ensure that sanctions imposed on certain countries did not spill over to innocent Member States. In this regard, her delegation continued to advocate for the prudent use of sanctions in a targeted manner as a last resort after exhausting all means of peaceful settlement. Further, she supported the establishment of a mechanism for evaluating the impact of such sanctions on third States.
She went on to commend the progress and the efforts undertaken by the Secretariat to clear the backlog in preparing the repertories of the practice of the United Nations organs and of the Security Council. Stressing that these documents were valuable research tools for the international community, Member States should make additional contributions to the two trust funds established to facilitate the preparation of these publications. Efficient, transparent and accountable fund administration would promote and support the consolidation of programmes and activities, thereby reducing the Committee’s implementation challenges.
STEVEN HILL (United States), joining other delegations in supporting the draft resolution commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the Manila Declaration, said that many of the issues proposed in the Special Committee had been taken up and addressed elsewhere in the United Nations and that a considerable degree of overlap existed. However, he welcomed steps taken, during the recent session, of two such longstanding proposals being withdrawn or set aside by their sponsors on the grounds that they were outdated and had been overtaken by events elsewhere in the Organization. Another welcome step was the Special Committee’s decision to delete from its annual report a section on “recommendations” that had come to contain “rote, rollover provisions” that had little connection to the current work of the Special Committee, or were redundant.
Those developments were “quite healthy” for the Special Committee as it moved forward, he said and he urged that focus remain on ways to improve efficiency and productivity, including giving serious consideration to holding biennial meetings and/or shortened sessions. In the area of sanctions, he noted that positive developments had occurred elsewhere in the United Nations that were designed to ensure that the Organization’s system of targeted sanctions remained a robust tool for combating threats to international peace and security.
With regard to the matter of third States affected by the application of sanctions, he quoted the Secretary-General’s report to the effect that “the need to explore practical and effective measures of assistance to third States has been reduced significantly because the shift from comprehensive to targeted sanctions has led to significant reductions in unintended adverse impacts on non-targeted countries”. Such being the case, the United States believed that issue was another matter that no longer merited discussion in the Committee.
ESMAEIL BAGHAEI HAMANEH ( Iran) said that imposing arbitrary unilateral economic sanctions against developing countries as an instrument of foreign policy remained a matter of serious concern. Such “morally wrong” and “ethically unjustified” unilateral measures not only defied the rule of law at the international level, but infringed on the right to development and led to violation of basic human rights. Such unilateral coercive measures, which had almost always been initiated by one State against many developing countries, clearly contravened international law and the Charter of the United Nations.
Noting that several speakers tried to downplay the issue by bragging about the “smartness” of the sanctions, he said that sanctions had been “smart” only in targeting the daily life of the ordinary citizens in order to force them to pressurize their political systems into submitting to illegitimate demands of the targeting State. The masterminds of sanctions were well aware that the terms “smart” and “targeted” were highly hypocritical euphemisms to cover the most inhuman and brutal instrument of foreign policy to punish nations for insisting on the right to self-determination and political independence.
He then recalled an article in the magazine, Mother Jones, written by a former New York Times journalist about the devastating effects of United States-led sanctions against Iraq. The Iranian nation, as well, had been subjected to various forms of sanctions from the first days of their revolution, and years before the United States found “our peaceful nuclear programme as a pretext to abuse the Security Council to impose its unilateral anti-Iran punitive measures on the whole United Nations”. Yet, there had been no credible evidence to support claims of Iran’s nuclear program being diverted for military purposes.
ISMAIL CHEKKORI ( Morocco) said that sanctions must be applied as the measure of final recourse for the peaceful settlement of disputes and for the maintaining of international peace and security. The negative impact of sanctions on individuals not targeted and on third States should be eliminated. Sanctions must be imposed according to a specific timetable and regularly reviewed toward their amendment and suspension when appropriate. Satisfied with changes made to the Organization’s sanctions regime, he said those changes had engendered the Security Council to improve its working methods and to allow Member States to respect their obligations.
Turning to the peaceful settlement of disputes, he supported the ongoing role of United Nations as the international forum for examining of issues related to international peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. The peaceful settlement of disputes was a topic fundamental to the pillars of United Nations and one of its most important goals.
AL-ADHAMI RIADH ( Iraq) said the Security Council had the authority to impose sanctions on a country, but the aim of such measures should be limited to maintaining international peace and security or to dissuading any act of aggression. Sanctions were to be applied to force a targeted country to respect and apply international law, not to bring about under-development. The sanctions regime would become, if its impact was not examined, “a collective punishment of people, particularly the most vulnerable”, and would not affect senior leadership.
He went on to say that, given the “catastrophic impact suffered by Iraqis”, it was important to examine Security Council resolutions in this area as well as any negative impacts. Furthermore, sanctions must have an established deadline and any reasons for prolonging their application should be elucidated by the Security Council. Without such a deadline, it would be difficult to establish consensus between permanent members of the Council.
YURY NIKOLAICHIK ( Belarus) recognized the important work done by the Special Committee, but said it needed to “step up” its work as it was the only specialized body whose competence covered the legal aspects of the work of the Organization. The presence of States’ political will and the need to ensure effective work of the Committee were fundamental. Further, Member States should maintain the practice of adopting decisions by consensus. The work of the Special Committee on a broad range of issues should not, in any way, prevent any other body’s discussion of the same issues. However, as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, it was authorized to make any recommendations, including on interpretation of the United Nations Charter.
He said that the application of unilateral and binding measures should be in line with international law. Any sanction was a form of coercive measure and should be justified and subject to international law. Pre-emptive sanctions were unacceptable and contrary to the aims of the Charter. In that vein, sanctions must be subject to ongoing review in order to ensure the protection of States and the rule of law. Having closely studied the Secretary-General’s report on third party States, he noted that sanctions, even those targeted by nature, did affect other States. As such, the trend to minimize the negative implications of sanctions on third States and on individuals was welcomed.
Referring to Belarus’ proposal on improving the legal work of the Organization, he said that the work of the Special Committee could make important contributions toward reform of the Organization. Further, he said Venezuela’s proposal on the open-ended working group and Cuba’s related to the Security Council and the General Assembly merited balanced and serious consideration. Concluding, he welcomed the thirtieth anniversary of the Manila Declaration and hoped its provisions would guide all States, stressing that such provisions could provide the basis for establishing a new treaty system for the pacific settlement of disputes.
ARLINE DIAZ MENDOZA ( Venezuela) said it was necessary to guarantee implementation of the United Nations Charter and to ensure that one organ’s work was not conducted to the detriment of others. In order to achieve its objectives, the Organization needed to be democratized. It was also urgent that the Security Council be reformed, as well as stop that body’s trend of “taking away the role of the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council”, which in turn diminished the role of all States and the rule of law.
She went on to say that the Assembly was the principal body to examine issues and adopt decisions on issues that affected the world. The Special Committee should play a more active role in revitalizing the Assembly to ensure it could fulfil its powers, especially regarding peace and security. Pleased with her delegation’s proposal on the creation of an open-ended working group on the Organization’s functions and its organs, she underscored that Member States should be able to choose freely their means to resolve disputes. Sanctions should not be preventative and should be taken only if all other mechanisms had failed.
Stressing the need to consider its humanitarian impact, she added that sanctions should not be indefinite in nature and should be lifted when objectives had been achieved. Consideration of the socioeconomic effects of sanctions and assistance to third States should be permanent in the Assembly’s agenda. She then highlighted the importance of the Repertory and Repertoire, and called for an update of volume III, as it was several years behind schedule.
Right of Reply
In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said the United Nations Command on the Korean peninsula was legally established by Security Council resolutions 84 and 88. His country officially recognized the United Nations Command as the entity to carry the functions of maintaining peace on the peninsula. In particular, the use of the United Nations flag by the United Nations command was authorized by the Security Council. Regarding the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly on the “Korean question”, it was misleading and inappropriate to mention only one part of the resolution. The Spokesperson for the Secretary-General had clarified in a letter to the Korean press in 2006 that the Secretariat did not take a formal position on the United Nations Command on the Korean peninsula. The bottom line was that the Special Committee was not the right forum for examining the issue of the United Nations Command.
Also exercising his right of reply, the delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the South Korean delegate was “misleading the reality”. Resolution 84, which was in question and related to the United Nations Command in South Korea, was illegal. It was a product fabricated by the United States to take advantage of the chance that the former Soviet representative was not participating in Security Council meetings due to the Chinese representation issue. That was a violation of the Charter. Resolution 84 had only established a unified command under the United States and had never used the language “UN Command”.
However, he said, the United States had provided the Security Council with reports under the name “‛UN Command’ and not by the name ‘Unified Command’”. He recalled that Kofi Annan had clearly mentioned, in a letter dated 21 December 1998 to his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that the purpose of the United States fabrication of a “UN Command” outside the Organization’s control rested with its “cunning intention” to continue to use the name of the United Nations for the realization of its ambition for “world supremacy”. Now, the Security Council had nothing to do with the “UN Command” in terms of control and command.
Even if the South Korean delegate continued to state its legality, that command needed to be dismantled as soon as possible. Regarding the resolution regarding dismantling of said command, he said part of that resolution contained a precondition that an agreement be arranged to replace the Korean armistice agreement. The move of the United States to ignore such a precondition clearly reflected its ambition to “occupy South Korea indefinitely under the name of the UN and to dominate the Asia-Pacific region”. South Korea should join in putting an end to a history of foreign interference in our internal affairs by dismantling that Command.
In exercise of his second right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said that the United Nations Command had been established in accordance with all due legal procedures of aforementioned Security Council resolutions. He said discussing the status of United Nations Command was not appropriate and stood in the way of efficient operation of the Special Committee’s session.
Exercising his second right of reply, the delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said this was the appropriate forum for placing the issue on the table and reiterated his position regarding the referred to Command station in South Korea. “It is illegal and it must be dismantled according to the United Nations resolution”, he said, adding that “the United States needed to go home”. There was no justification for South Korea to be involved in the issue because it didn’t have control and command over that Command.
Statements on Criminal Accountability
JOSÉ ANTONIO GONZALEZ (Chile), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, stressed that any type of misconduct, especially criminal behaviour by United Nations officials and experts on mission, was unacceptable and had a detrimental effect on the fulfilment of mandates. More so, because of the nature of such officials and experts’ functions and the special vulnerability of the victims, such acts could not go unpunished.
He went on to say that although the Secretary-General’s report showed that steps had been taken by some States to establish jurisdiction, enact the appropriate legislation related to the criminal jurisdiction over the crimes of a serious nature, and ensure that there was basic framework at different levels for the cooperation and exchange of information to bring to justice its perpetrators, much more needed to be done. It was crucial to ensure that impunity associated with those crimes would “not have room anywhere, any longer”.
Further, he said it was very useful for the Committee to receive information about the reporting obligations of the Secretary-General and on statistics about substantiated allegations. However, it was questionable if the registered number of allegations of criminal activity and abuse reflected the true extent of the problem. A better reporting practice would improve understanding of the problem. There were many areas that presented greater challenges, he said in conclusion, and where cooperation could be improved, such as investigations in the field and during criminal proceedings, as well as the provision and assessment of evidence and its value in administrative and jurisdictional procedures, among others.
IMBRAHIM SALEM ( Egypt), speaking for the African Group, said the issue at hand was of great importance to the African continent where many United Nations officials and experts were deployed. Expressing great concern about sexual abuse and exploitation committed by several officials, he said that when abuse occurred, it seriously undermined the Organization’s image, integrity and credibility. It caused great harm to victims and distress to their families.
Those officials committing such acts should be held accountable, swiftly and firmly, he said. In fighting impunity, jurisdictional gaps should be eliminated. Welcoming Member States’ efforts to establish jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by their nationals while serving on mission, he underscored the merits of information-sharing, exchange of experience and legal assistance to strengthen national judicial institutions. Further, previously adopted resolutions on policy and remedial measures should be fully implemented, and the relevant zero-tolerance policy observed. Any obstacles towards accountability, he stated in conclusion, had to be overcome.
ESMAEIL BAGHAEI HAMANEH (Iran), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that Non-Aligned Movement member countries contributed over 87 per cent of the peacekeeping personnel in the field and were, at the same time, the major recipients of those peacekeeping missions. Stressing the importance of United Nations peacekeeping personnel to perform their duties in a manner that preserved the image, credibility, impartiality and integrity of the Organization, he supported a zero-tolerance policy in addressing all cases of sexual exploitation and abuse.
He noted the work by the Ad Hoc Committee on criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission during its sessions in 2007 and 2008 and said his group looked forward to continuing consideration of the Report by the Group of Legal Experts. Further, the comprehensive strategy on assistance and support to victims of sexual exploitation would help mitigate their suffering, as well as offer them support, legal services and medical attention, among other things.
He went on to emphasize the need to implement “without delay” the Assembly resolution which amended the revised draft model Memorandum of Understanding in order to strengthen accountability mechanisms and help guarantee due process. In that regard, the full implementation by all Member States of certain relevant Assembly resolutions could bridge any jurisdictional gaps. As well, an assessment could be undertaken whether further measures by the Assembly were needed. Although important policy and remedial measures had been agreed on, they still needed to be implemented. As it was still premature to discuss a draft convention on criminal accountability, he said in conclusion, focus must be on substantive matters, with matters of form left for a later stage.
GILLES MARHIC, Minister Counsellor, Delegation of the European Union, said the commission of crimes of a serious nature by United Nations officials and experts on mission were “hindering the mandate of the United Nations”. Impunity for such crimes would have long-term detrimental effects on the credibility of the Organization and its effectiveness. A proper investigation should take place into allegations of criminal conduct, and training and awareness-raising on standards of conduct should remain at the centre of preventive measures.
He went on to say that both cooperation between States and the United Nations in investigating serious crimes, and jurisdiction established by the perpetrator’s State of nationality over such crimes, were essential. He supported the “dual-track approach”, which combined short-term and long-term measures to deal with existing jurisdictional gaps, and was prepared to consider a comprehensive legal framework within alleged crimes could be investigated and prosecuted.
SUSAN ROBERTSON ( Australia), speaking also for Canada and New Zealand, said a fundamental aspect of the rule of law was accountability. That tenet was especially important for United Nations officials and experts on missions, as they were the “face” of the Organization to the world. When officials and experts engage in criminal conduct, they “act against each of us, undermine our efforts and tarnish the reputation of the Organization”, she stated. It was imperative that, not only the highest standard of respect for and compliance with the rule of law be established, but that officials and experts be held accountable for any criminal conduct in which they engaged.
She commended the Office of Legal Affairs in its referral of 17 cases of United Nations officials to the relevant States of nationality and said those referrals sent a series of strong messages. First, the Organization was committed to ensuring the accountability of personnel. Second, States of nationality were responsible for ensuring accountability in practice. Third was a message to United Nations personnel that they would be answerable for any criminal conduct in which they engaged.
She called on all States to consider establishing jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by their nationals, and to report on efforts taken to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute their nationals for those crimes. As a longer-term solution, the proposal for a convention that required Member States to exercise criminal jurisdiction over their nationals who were participating in United Nations operations abroad deserved support. It would further strengthen the integrity of the Organization and promote the highest standards of professionalism among its personnel.
NGALU KALALA (Democratic Republic of Congo) said that, with the high demand for United Nations soldiers in the past year, peacekeeping forces had helped to keep the peace, working in unstable and often dangerous conditions. That exemplary picture of the soldiers, however, had been tarnished in his country, when in 2004, a number of peacekeepers engaged in sexual abuse and exploitation, undermining their image of peacekeeping. Calling attention to the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy, he called for a universally recognized rule where no one was above the law. That law would be applied to all, including peacekeeping personnel, without distinction. Those who had committed criminal acts needed to be held accountable.
Despite his call for action, he said reported scandals had not been subject to proper disciplinary sanctions and appropriate punishment. Host countries faced headquarters agreements and lacked leeway. They could only hand over their reports to the United Nations, and when the Organization could not punish the perpetrator, those perpetrators were sent to their country of origin. Once the national returned home, their Government would hide the case and fail to prosecute. There were also some who were reinstated into the army, or back to an administrative post.
He said the United Nations’ Office for Legal Affairs had sent 17 cases back to States of nationality for investigation, but none related to sexual crimes. In his view, an international convention should be elaborated on the matter in relation to how officials and experts should be punished in cases of misconduct. He also called for those “black sheep” who had conducted such misdeeds and had been subject of internal investigations to provide financial compensation, including child support, for those born from their misconduct.
YONGHOON CHOI ( Republic of Korea) said that bringing United Nations personnel who had committed a crime to justice was a crucial part of fighting impunity. If such serious violations were not prosecuted appropriately, the Organization could create a false impression that its personnel could improperly use immunities for their private benefit. On the 17 cases referred to States of nationality for investigation, he said those countries should take necessary steps toward possible prosecution and periodically inform the Organization of ongoing progress.
He expressed appreciation for the work being done on the prevention of such crimes and the efforts to strengthen existing training on United Nations standards of conduct, including, among others, predeployment and in-mission induction training. He reminded the Committee that it was not only the Secretary-General’s duty, but also the responsibility of Member States, to make a concerted effort to prevent such offenses. The Republic of Korea, he said, provided a three-month intensive training course to select peacekeeping personnel chosen through a rigorous process.
JOAQUÍN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI ( El Salvador) said his country had legislation enabling it to judge crimes conducted in its territory by persons of Salvadoran nationality or persons of another jurisdiction that involved internationally protected legal assets or infringed on human rights. In that regard, he said it was important for all States to set out jurisdiction with respect to crimes committed by United Nations officials and experts on mission.
He went on to say that international criminal law could address aspects beyond territoriality, adding that it could also establish measures for cooperation in collecting evidence. In that regard, El Salvador’s legislation allowed the formation of joint investigative teams with foreign or international institutions. Nonetheless, the receiving State should not always be considered incapable of exercising its jurisdiction just because it was developing its own peacekeeping operation. The capacity of each State should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
In addition, he said, criteria should be established to identify individuals that could be included in the category of United Nations personnel and experts on mission. To date, that had only been addressed in abstract form. Further, a broader approach was necessary to examine the effects of such crimes to the people within the missions. Although it was early to create a possible international convention, he reaffirmed continued cooperation for progress on this matter.
VISHNU DUTT SHARMA (India) recalled that the General Assembly had strongly urged all States to consider establishing jurisdiction over crimes of a serious nature committed by their nationals while serving on mission, at least where the conduct amounted to a crime in both the host country and country of nationality. Effective implementation of that recommendation would help to fill the jurisdictional gap in respect to Member States that did not assert extraterritorial jurisdiction over such crimes.
India’s Penal Code, he stated, extended to extraterritorial offences committed by Indian nationals. His country’s law also contained provisions for assistance in criminal matters from other States in criminal cases. Notably, India had concluded bilateral treaties with approximately 40 countries on mutual assistance in criminal matters. The Indian Extradition Act also allowed for consideration of an international convention, as the legal basis for considering an extradition request in the absence of a bilateral treaty.
Further, where there was no bilateral treaty or mutual assistance with a State in that regard, India could provide assistance on a reciprocal case-by-case basis. Although he firmly held that any violations of law committed by United Nations personnel had to be stopped, an international convention on the matter was unnecessary.
ANNIKEN ENERSEN (Norway) said serious crimes committed by United Nations personnel, including sexual exploitation and abuse, challenged the very essence of the Organization, and endangered its integrity, undermined the trust and support it enjoyed, and harmed its ability to fulfil its important responsibilities. In that regard, her country fully supported the zero-tolerance policy towards crime committed by United Nations personnel.
While training and awareness-raising were necessary, she said it was also important to address accountability and reparation when crimes occurred despite the provision of training. The United Nations must address such accountability of its personnel in individual cases and on a broader scale. Further, the Organization should not be “misused as a shield” for unlawful conduct by personnel on missions or as a cover for criminal conduct. Sexual exploitation and abuse and other criminal acts by United Nations personnel must be investigated and duly prosecuted. “One case of impunity is one case too many,” she stated.
Concluding, she said that that the low number of cases reported should not be used as justification for maintaining the legal status quo. States should establish jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by their nationals while serving as members of a United Nations mission. As well, she supported the development of an international legally binding convention to ensure that criminal conduct was addressed. Stressing that domestic law in some jurisdictions could not serve as justification from refraining from cooperating, she urged all States to cooperate with each other and with the United Nations when allegations of serious crimes were reported.
OLEKSANDR PAVLICHENKO ( Ukraine) said that to ensure officials on mission who had committed crimes were brought to justice, States should be encouraged to establish, assert and exercise criminal jurisdiction over their nationals when they, in a host State, had engaged in criminal misconduct. Although the proposal for an international convention on the matter merited consideration in a long-term context, Member States, today, should foster cooperation between themselves and with the Organization to facilitate investigations. Noting training and awareness-raising efforts as central to preventing such misconduct, Ukraine would, in 2013, host a regional workshop to frame a future model for United Nations policing.
Drawing the Committee’s attention to another problem, he said that in recent years there had been an increase in the number of deaths and injuries resulting from deliberate attacks against United Nations personnel in peacekeeping missions. The death toll among Blue Helmets had reached more than 3,000, and had included Ukrainian citizen Ihor Kinal in 2008. All Member States should pay attention to safety and security issues related to nationals deployed to United Nations peacekeeping missions. Additionally, he looked forward to participating in a briefing by the Secretariat to further clarify all of the Organization’s internal policies, rules and procedures on internal investigations.
ANDREY V. KALININ ( Russian Federation) said more attention should be given to preventive measures in dealing with sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and that predeployment training should not be underestimated. The leading role of criminal jurisdiction should lie with the State of the United Nations official suspected of committing a crime. According to the statistics in the Secretary-General’s report, reported crimes continued to be mainly motivated by money, and to a large extent, were of fraud and embezzlement. The reasons for that and what actions could be taken to address that should be considered.
Noting the importance of cooperation between the United Nations and States, he said he was pleased with the timely and complete reporting by the Secretariat. It was important to share information, although it was not always admissible in trial, because such information could be used in the investigation to provide a picture of the occurrence. Also, despite a United Nations policy on confidentiality and immunity, he hoped that there would always be constructive cooperation between United Nations and law enforcement authorities in the State conducting an investigation.
Concluding, he said a legally binding instrument, for example a convention, would be necessary where juridical gaps in prosecution existed. At this time he was not convinced of such a need and therefore recommended focus on implementation of existing norms and measures approved by the Assembly in that regard.
* *** *For information media • not an official record