26 March 2001
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ON MEMBER STATES TO ENSURE UN STAFF SECURITY
IN MESSAGE ON DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH DETAINED STAFF MEMBERS
Allow me to pay tribute to the Staff Union for keeping alive among all of us the memory of Alec Collett, who was kidnapped 16 years ago last Sunday. This day of solidarity is an occasion for us to reaffirm our determination to obtain a definitive answer on Alec Collett's fate. And it is a day on which, sadly, colleagues of ours in Somalia are missing amid deadly hostilities and may have been detained. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to appeal, yet again, to Member States to meet their obligations to improve the security of United Nations staff everywhere.
The disappearance of a loved one is devastating to a family who, in addition to the pain of absence, must cope with the pain of uncertainty. Today, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Alec Collett and those of all other detained or missing staff.
As an organization, we have a duty to care not only for staff members, but also for their families, and to do so in a more systematic way. Much also remains to be done in addressing the risks that many United Nations staff face every day. Dangers on the ground remain real and constant, because some governments are unable to maintain law and order and because, in some places, United Nations staff are subjected to deliberate and targeted aggression. This situation is unacceptable.
My report to the General Assembly last year outlined a number of measures that need to be taken to improve staff security. The General Assembly has approved funding for some proposals -- including strengthening the office of the United Nations Security Coordinator, increasing the number of Field Security Officers in the field, and providing security training for staff -- and is prepared to consider additional requests. The approval of the Assembly is contingent upon all organizations agreeing to a cost-sharing formula for these expenditures, and negotiations are underway with agencies, programmes and funds.
The United Nations family must do its part. But today, I also call yet again on Member States to do all they can to ensure a secure environment for United Nations staff as they go about their work in the service of humankind.
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