Ban lauds ratification enabling pact on legal protections for UN staff to enter into force

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

13 August 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the recent ratification by the United Kingdom of a protocol that expands an international treaty aimed at protecting United Nations staff members and other humanitarian workers, thus enabling the pact to enter into force next week.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel provides legal protection to staff delivering emergency humanitarian assistance and to those providing political and development assistance in peacebuilding situations.

It extends the legal protection offered by the 1994 convention on the same subject, which only applies to personnel engaged in peacekeeping operations.

The UK became party to the 2005 Optional Protocol on 20 July, joining 21 other countries which have already done so. The pact will now enter into force on 19 August.

Mr. Ban, in a statement, called the Convention “the cornerstone” of the legal regime affording protection to UN and associated personnel operating in hostile and volatile environments.

However, while the Convention is automatically applicable to peacekeeping operations, its applicability to humanitarian, development, and other UN operations depends on a ‘declaration of exceptional risk.’

“In the practice of UN operations, however, no such declaration has ever been made, nor are there any generally agreed criteria for determining the existence of an exceptional risk,” said the statement.

“The Optional Protocol corrects this flaw by dispensing with the need for a declaration and expanding the legal protection to all other United Nations operations delivering humanitarian, political or development assistance in peacebuilding and to those delivering emergency humanitarian assistance.”

Mr. Ban called on all States which have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Convention and its Optional Protocol without delay.

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