14 January 2008 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced his decision to appoint an independent panel to investigate last month’s deadly terrorist attack in Algeria which claimed the lives of 17 United Nations staff members.
The panel – which will seek Algerian authorities’ full cooperation – will be tasked with establishing the facts concerning the 11 December bombing in the capital, Algiers. It will also take up strategic issues vital to providing and bolstering security for UN staff worldwide.
“The Secretary-General fully recognizes the global reality of the environments in which the United Nations operates and the need to work actively with Member State support to improve the security of the staff,” according to a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.
The members of the panel, which will include international experts from outside the UN system, are expected to be announced shortly.
The findings of the group will impact the UN system worldwide, Mr. Ban told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York today.
After the new panel submits its report and recommendations, “we will try to discuss with the General Assembly how we can be sure of better safety and security of UN staff and premises all around the world,” he said. “We need to take some sort of global measures.”
On 11 January, Mr. Ban received a preliminary report from the world body’s top security official, Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security David Veness, on the circumstances which led to the Algiers bombing, which also wounded 40 UN staff members.
Mr. Ban dispatched Mr. Veness and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Kemal Dervis to the Algerian capital immediately after the 11 December attack to assist UN staff and evaluate the security system.
During his visit to Algeria several days after the attack, the Secretary-General paid tribute to the dedication and professionalism of the UN staff there, and met personally with all survivors and victims’ families.
“Terrorism is terrorism. It is unacceptable,” he told reporters during his visit to Algiers. “It is a crime against humanity. It can never be justified under any circumstances.”
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