2 June 2014
Press Release
Note No. 6410

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Note to Correspondents


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Office of Legal Affairs


To Convene Seminar on Road Safety Agreements, Conventions, 5 June


The global road safety crisis has reached an alarming magnitude, with more than 1.3 million people killed on roads every year, and one of the first steps towards addressing the issue would be acceding to and effectively implementing existing United Nations road safety agreements and conventions.


In order to create a wider global understanding on what agreements and conventions currently exist in the field of road safety, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and Office of Legal Affairs have organized a “Road Safety Treaty Day” for all Permanent Missions to the United Nations.  The event — co-organized with Regional Commissions New York Office and International Road Transport Union (IRU) — will take place on 5 June at United Nations Headquarters in New York.


The seminar is organized at the request of the Inland Transport Committee, which is the highest transport policymaking body of the UNECE.  The programme includes presentations by the Office of Legal Affairs and UNECE, a United nations regional commission responsible for managing 58 international legal instruments in the area of transport, including road safety.  Global road safety instruments, such as the 1968 Convention on Road Traffic, 1968 Convention on Road Signs and Signals, 1958 and 1998 vehicle regulations agreements, as well as international rules on the carriage of dangerous goods, are the conventions which will be presented and discussed.


This is the latest in the United Nations’ efforts to address road safety.  Recently, the General Assembly acknowledged the value of these efforts in its resolution on improving road safety (document A/68/L.40) which “[R]ecognized the work of the United Nations regional commissions in increasing road safety activities and advocating increased political commitment to road safety, in elaborating global road safety-related legal instruments, technical standards, resolutions and recommendations.”  The United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020) — also declared by the General Assembly — encourages accessions to United Nations road safety conventions.


Staff members of Permanent Missions to the United Nations in New York are very much encouraged to attend.  The event is free of charge and will be held in English.


Santiago Villalpando, Chief, Treaty Section, Office of Legal Affairs, said:  "The Treaty Section of the UN Office of Legal Affairs is happy to contribute to this event.  The seminar will provide an excellent opportunity to raise awareness regarding treaties on road safety deposited with the Secretary-General.  It is our hope that the seminar will encourage Member States to participate in those treaties and implement them, thus enhancing international cooperation in the field."


Eva Molnar, Director, Transport Division, UNECE, said:  “Together, with UN Member States, the UNECE secretariat has been relentlessly working to elaborate legal and technical standards in three main areas of road safety:  infrastructure, vehicles and road user behaviour.  Simply said, through our work, we strive to facilitate the creation of a globally harmonized road traffic system — the system that enhances safety for all road users.  I very much appreciate partnerships with the Office of Legal Affairs, Regional Commissions Office in New York and International Road Transport Union to deliver effective awareness raising and capacity-building events such as this one”.


Background


UNECE’s Working Party on Road Traffic Safety is the only permanent intergovernmental body in the United Nations system that focuses on improving road safety.  The Conventions on Road Traffic of 1949 and 1968 and on Roads Signs and Signals of 1968, and other United Nations legal instruments administered by UNECE address the main factors of road crashes, such as road user behaviour, vehicles and infrastructure.


Many countries around the world have become Contracting Parties to these instruments and benefit from their implementation.  The Contracting Parties are also the key driving forces to keeping these international road safety conventions up to date.


The years 2011-2014 witnessed the continuation of many activities begun by the launch of a global Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020), proclaimed by the UN General Assembly resolution (document 64/255).  In this context, the UNECE Transport Division has proceeded to put together its own comprehensive Road Safety Action Plan for the Decade which aims at achieving UNECE’s overall road safety goals by addressing priority areas of work, as well as implementing continuous and future actions.  This consolidated Road Safety Action Plan includes actions, initiatives and measures related to all UNECE Working Parties, including road safety, road transport, vehicle regulations and the transport of dangerous goods.


Conventions on Road Traffic of 1949 and of 1968, Convention on Road Signs and Signals of 1968:  These international legal instruments contain a set of internationally agreed road traffic regulations, road signs, signals and markings, uniform safety requirements for motor vehicles and other internationally acceptable regulations, aimed at improving the efficiency and safety of international road traffic.  They are regularly revised and updated.  These legal instruments provide Governments with the legal basis and technical rules and regulations for their national highway codes. 


The Agreement concerning the Adoption of Uniform Technical Prescriptions for Wheeled Vehicles, Equipment and Parts which can be fitted and/or be used on Wheeled Vehicles and the Conditions for Reciprocal Recognition of Approvals granted on the Basis of these Prescriptions of1958provides Governments with a legal framework and procedures for the adoption of uniform technical regulations applicable to road vehicles, their equipment and parts, with a view to the improvement of their safety and environmental performance, the facilitation of international road traffic and the removal of technical barriers to the international trade of such vehicles.  The agreement establishes the principle of the reciprocal recognition of the approvals granted according to those uniform regulations thereby avoiding the repetition of statutory controls of compliance with regulations prior to marketing of road vehicles.


The Agreement concerning the Establishing of Global Technical Regulations for Wheeled Vehicles, Equipment and Parts which can be fitted and/or be used on Wheeled Vehicles of 1998 provides Governments with a legal framework and procedures for the adoption of global technical regulations applicable to road vehicles, their equipment and parts, with a view to the improvement of their safety, environmental protection, energy efficiency and anti-theft performance.


The European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road provides for uniform norms and requirements aimed at providing a high level of safety of international transport of dangerous goods by road.  It identifies and classifies dangerous substances and articles and sets out uniform specific provisions for the various classes of such substances as well as for the transport equipment to be used for their carriage and for the necessary transport operations.


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