BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE
FIFTY EIGHT SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT THE SIXTH ANNUAL SUMMIT ON STAFF SECURITY
Nations staff members, Ladies and Gentlemen:
happened in Baghdad on 19 August 2003 was a shocking, and
some would say a defining moment for the United Nations
system. Yet, it is important for us to bear in mind that
Baghdad was not the first instance in which UN staff lost
their lives while carrying out the responsibilities of the
Hammarskjold, our second Secretary-General, died in an aircraft
accident while on a peace mission in the Congo.
Alec Collett was abducted 18 years ago, while on assignment
for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East. His fate has never been determined.
Only three months after Baghdad, Bettina Goislard, while
working with the UN High Commissioner of Refugees, was killed
by a gunman in Ghazni, Afghanistan.
terrorist attack in Baghdad that claimed the lives of Sergio
Vieira de Mello and his United Nations colleagues puts them
among the more than two thousand persons who have died serving
the United Nations as civilian staff or peacekeepers since
the organisation was founded in 1945. In 2003 alone, 241
civilian staff lost their lives in Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan,
Baghdad and elsewhere. We have all been deeply affected
by these tragic events. These dedicated and selfless United
Nations staff were family, friends, colleagues, countrymen
and fellow world citizens.
Baghdad terrorist attack has, I believe, signalled a profound
change in how the UN is perceived by militant groups and
in how the UN is to operate in the future. The targeting
of the United Nations makes the safety of our personnel
one of the most critical issues facing this organisation.
Importantly, it has underscored the need for new security
measures to be put in place for all United Nations and associated
personnel, but in particular, for those working in high
risk areas. We must ask ourselves, "What can we do
to improve the security of our staff?
primary responsibility for the protection of international
humanitarian workers falls on the host government whose
people they are there to serve. Humanitarian workers, in
particular, can only help people in need in difficult areas
if they are alive and safe. Once protected by their status,
they are increasingly seen as parties to conflicts, making
them targets. Host governments must ensure that Humanitarian
and other United Nations workers are granted safe and unfettered
access to those they are seeking to help.
who target United Nations or associated personnel must be
brought to justice. I deeply regret to stay that this occurs
all too rarely. Let us not forget that Article 8 of the
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines
as a war crime intentional attacks against humanitarian
and peacekeeping personnel.
also necessary for all Member States to make a greater commitment
to the security of UN staff. Member States must ratify the
1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated
Personnel. This convention, which was adopted by the General
Assembly in 1994 and which entered into force on 15 January
1999, makes it an international crime to abduct or kill
a United Nations staff member. Only one-third of Member
States have ratified this convention.
also address what happens when there is no "host government"
-- or when in an internal conflict the authorities face
so great a breakdown of civic and legal structures that
protecting anyone is illusory. At a time when internal conflicts
have eclipsed conflicts between states in both frequency
and ferocity, this is a pressing question we must address.
Secretariat also has a crucial role to play in protecting
UN staff and associated personnel. We must all congratulate
the Secretary-General on the speed with which he acted,
following the Baghdad attack. The report presented by His
Excellency, Matti Ahtissari, was an honest and thorough
response, but just a beginning. The team subsequently appointed
by the Secretary-General is working to take it a step further,
and we can only give them our full support in reaching their
conclusions and recommendations.
pre-judging the results of their work, I believe there are
certain conclusions that we can already draw. If we are
to improve the security of our staff, better use of information
on threats must be made, security regulations must be observed
and implemented, adequate financial resources must be available
and there must be accountability for security decisions.
also be mindful of the need to treat each dangerous situation
in which our people must operate as singular and unique:
one model, no matter how carefully developed, will not serve
for all situations. I believe we have also learned the hard
way that when we send our people into situations of crisis
and danger, no effort must be spared to ensure that the
host population understands exactly why we are there, and
what our mission is.
want to highlight the place of civil society in our security
discussions. Organizations of the United Nations have increasingly
worked closely with Inter- and Non-Governmental Organization
in hostile environments. A need to provide a framework for
security collaboration between the UN and civil society
was recognized last year and embodied in the guidelines
published for UN/NGO/IGO security collaboration. Implementing
and fleshing out these guidelines, where needed, is a potentially
of the General Assembly, I am deeply committed to improving
the security of UN staff. I personally met with the UN Staff
Council's Standing Committee on the Security and Independence
of the International Civil Service to discuss staff security
concerns. I also recently organized a very informative briefing
for the General Committee by Deputy-Secretary General Louise
Fréchette on this topic. I pledge to continue to
address this issue throughout my Presidency.
this opportunity to commend the dedicated staff of the United
Nations system, who continue, in adverse and dangerous situations,
to play their essential role in upholding the principles
and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.
to conclude by congratulating the Standing Committee on
the Security and Independence of the International Civil
Service and the U.N. Staff Council for your dedication and
hard work in making today's Security Summit a substantive
and significant dialogue on this sadly urgent topic and
for your continuing efforts to highlight staff security
concerns, to advocate on behalf of your colleagues, to commemorate
the lives of our staff who gave their lives for peace and
to continue their work in trying to secure and better the
lives of others.
honoured to have been invited to address you today for this
event and I wish your meeting every success.