Need for Accountability Stressed as Legal Committee Considers Issue of Criminal Conduct by UN Personnel on Mission

13 October 2009
GA/L/3366

Need for Accountability Stressed as Legal Committee Considers Issue of Criminal Conduct by UN Personnel on Mission

13 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/L/3366
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Sixth Committee

7th Meeting (AM)

Need for Accountability Stressed as Legal Committee Considers Issue

of Criminal Conduct by UN Personnel on Mission

 

‘Zero Tolerance’ Policy Applauded, but Concern Over Impunity,

Other Problems, Prompts Calls for Consideration of International Convention

As the Sixth Committee (Legal) this morning addressed the issue of criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on missions, the debate centred on impunity, language regarding scope of accountability and the need for an international convention.

The “zero-tolerance” policy had been prompted by the 2004 allegations of misconduct by United Nations officials in his country, recalled the delegate of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Recently, a contingent of his country had stopped a group of Blue Helmets from raping a young girl.  Charges were not brought against those peacekeepers.

When States were not equipped with legal instruments to prevent impunity, he said, perpetrators were often sent back to the United Nations and then back to their home countries.  That’s how impunity was perpetrated, he stated, and only a convention would close the existing legal vacuum.

The representative of Morocco said that although a convention to address issues would be useful at this time, the substance of an instrument should guide the work rather than the form.  He suggested working closely with the Special Committee on Peacekeeping.

The representative of Norway said impunity fostered anger, suspicion and mistrust.  Both short- and long-term measures needed implementation to prevent impunity for serious crimes committed by United Nations officials. Venezuela’s delegate urged that recruitment policy contain measures that evaluated not just a person’s personal and professional attributes, but also their ethical actions.

The representative of the Russian Federation said it was unacceptable that there were still incidents of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse by United Nations personnel.  Commenting on the small number of cases noted in the Secretary-General’s report, he hoped it reflected misconduct prevention and successful criminal prosecution of United Nations officials and experts, rather than showing the need for better and timelier reporting by Member States.

Addressing the scope of accountability, the delegate from Guatemala called for the word “staff” to be used, rather than “official”.  In this way all personnel, not just officials and experts would be held accountable for their behaviour.  On behalf of the Rio Group, Mexico’s representative commented that the Spanish version of the name of the topic needed to be closer to the spirit of the English with regard to “officials and experts.”

Speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, the representative of Iran pointed out that the non-aligned countries contributed over 80 percent of peacekeeping personnel in the field.  In order to effectively address criminal behaviour within United Nations missions and facilities, more information, such as statistics and types of crimes, needed to be disseminated.

Speaking this morning were the representatives of Australia, also for Canada and New Zealand, Sweden, for the European Union, and Egypt, for the African Group.

Also taking the floor in their national capacity were the delegates of Jordan, Switzerland, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Senegal, United States, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., tomorrow, Wednesday, 14 October, to discuss the report on United Nations activities on rule of law, and to consider requests for observer status in the work of the General Assembly.

Background

The Sixth Committee (Legal) met today to take up the agenda item on criminal accountability of United Nations personnel on mission.

The report of the Secretary-General on Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (documents A/64/183 and A/64/183.Add.1) recalls that the General Assembly had urged all Member States to ensure jurisdiction over their nationals working in that capacity.  States were asked to address crimes of a serious nature and to assist in criminal investigations to that end.

The Secretary-General had then requested States to submit information on the extent to which their national laws established jurisdiction over their nationals while serving as United National officials or experts on mission.  The report focuses on crimes of a serious nature and, in addition to responses from States, also contains information on cooperative efforts, both among States and between States and the United Nations, in the facilitation of the investigation and prosecution of officials and experts.

As of 30 July, 14 States had replied -- Austria, Belarus, Czech Republic, Jordan, Finland, Guatemala, Guyana, Kuwait, Mexico, Portugal, Qatar, Sweden, United States, and Yemen.

Among these responses, in a section on the establishment of jurisdiction over crimes of a serious nature, the report states that nationals of Belarus who commit offences outside the country’s territory are subject to national criminal prosecution under the country’s Criminal Code, and its Code of Criminal Procedure, in addition to the terms of applicable international agreements that had been entered into.  In the case of serious offences, the national Criminal Code is applied independently of the criminal law of the place in which the offences took place.  The offences covered include, among others, genocide; the production, stockpiling or distribution of prohibited instruments of war, and human trafficking.

In Guatemala, the report states, criminal law is primarily territorial, and extra-territoriality is applied only in exceptional cases.  Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts falls within the exclusive competence of the State where the offence was committed, except where the applicability of Guatemala’s penal code differed from that of the State where the offence occurred.  Explicit classification for serious crimes committed by officials and experts does exist in Guatemala since penalties are applied in accordance with the gravity of the crime and not according to classification.  However, measures have been taken to combat impunity on both the national and international levels.  Multilateral instruments and bilateral extradition instruments with various States have also been executed.

When a Kuwaiti citizen who is employed by the United Nations commits a crime of a serious nature in the course of performing work, the report states, the Kuwait Penal Code provides for criminal responsibility by the State where the offence was committed.  This is applicable to any Kuwaiti national who commits a crime abroad.  If, because of diplomatic immunity, it is not possible to prosecute the person in the State where he was employed, judicial proceedings will be conducted upon his return to Kuwait.

The report notes that Portugal’s criminal legislation is applicable to all acts committed in Portuguese territory and, in specific circumstances, applicable to criminal acts committed outside Portuguese territory, including acts defined as criminal in international conventions to which Portugal is a party.  Portugal’s penal code recognizes the special status of officials and experts, and immunity is granted within limits strictly necessary for the independent exercise of their functions.  When a United Nations official or an expert on mission commits a crime under Portuguese criminal law, the presiding judge may ask, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that the Secretary-General waive immunity.

United States nationals who commit crimes while working for the United Nations at a mission or as an expert will be prosecuted as nationals, regardless of whether part of the crime or the entire crime is committed outside the United States, the report states.  For certain conducts, such as sex with a minor, the United Sates will take extra-territoriality jurisdiction.  It also has jurisdiction to prosecute any crime defined by its national laws, even if the bulk of the criminal act is committed overseas, including phone calls or wire transfers that relate to and/or support fraudulent activities.  Additionally, if a national engages in the commerce of human trafficking between the United States and a foreign State, that person can be prosecuted in the United States.

In the section on cooperation among States and the United Nations in the exchange of information and the facilitation of investigations and prosecution, the report says Austria would assist criminal investigations or extradition proceedings for crimes of a serious nature committed by United Nations officials and experts on mission, on the basis of applicable multilateral and bilateral extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties.  In the absence of such treaties, Austria would offer such assistance based on the Austrian Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Act.

In the Czech Republic, the report says, the principle of international cooperation governs the Czech Criminal Procedure Code.  When there is no treaty basis for such cooperation, the principal of reciprocity operates.  The requesting State needs to provide a guarantee, through the Ministry of Justice (criminal procedure) or by the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office (pre-trial procedure), that it would grant a similar request by the Czech Republic in the future.  Without the treaty basis, direct communication between the judicial organs is not possible.

According to the report, Guyana at present cooperated only in regard to extraditions and the taking of evidence when requested by another State through “letters rogatory” or a formal written request.  A bill on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, presently under consideration, would address such issues as obtaining evidence, obtaining things/objects by search and seizure, transferring prisoners and serving documents.

Under Mexico’s Constitution, the report states, requests for extradition must be processed by the federal executive through the judicial authority, and must be in accordance with relevant existing international treaties and regulatory acts.  Mexico is currently party to 26 extradition treaties, and has concluded with various States 30 treaties on legal assistance in criminal matters.

The report also notes that judicial assistance and cooperation between Sweden and other States are governed by numerous bilateral and multilateral agreements, while cooperation with the United Nations is covered by the relevant Headquarters agreement.  There is no obstacle to close cooperation with relevant authorities in the country where crimes in questions occur.

Bringing the attention of States to crimes committed by United Nations officials was the task of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, the report states.  In the period from 1 July 2008 to 1 June 2009, three officials were referred to the State of nationality, two related to embezzlement and forgery and the other to fraud and embezzlement.  Credible allegations against two experts on mission were referred to the relevant States, one related to injury and death caused while intoxicated and the other regarding counterfeiting money and verbal threats.  Both experts were repatriated and updates on the judicial process in all five cases were being awaited.

Further, the report says practical measures for strengthening existing training to improve adherence to standards of conduct include both predeployment and in-mission training activities conducted by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support.  Awareness-raising activities are also implemented with a focus on the prevention of misconduct.  The Conduct and Discipline Unit at Headquarters, and respective field teams both collectively and independently, facilitate training programmes on misconduct for all categories of personnel.  There are currently 14 conduct and discipline teams, covering 19 peacekeeping missions and special political missions.

In May, the report says, after joint development by that Unit and the Integrated Training Service, a new integrated core programme of training material for predeployment use was launched in Guatemala and Nepal, and in Brindisi, Italy.  The Department of Field Support and the task force of non-governmental organizations on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse provided input, as did the Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs and the Executive Committee on Peace and Security.  The inputs came from principal and working levels.  They also included technical input on developing training materials for managers and for focal points.

Mission-specific materials have been developed, the report continues, and adapted for use by police and military in local languages.  Leadership and senior training have also been conducted, as well as workshops on specific types of misconduct such as sexual harassment and abuse of authority.  Awareness-raising campaigns have been begun to inform host populations of the United Nations codes of conduct.  Needs in those areas continue to be assessed.

The documentation for today’s meeting also includes Sixth Committee documents of previous General Assembly sessions as contained in a report on Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission (A/63/260 and A/63/260.Add.1), and on Ensuring the accountability of United Nations staff and experts on mission with respect to criminal acts committed in peacekeeping operations (A/60/980).

Statements

PAUL NEVILLE ( Australia), speaking for Canada and New Zealand, said criminal accountability was a fundamental pillar of the rule of law, which required all persons to be accountable to laws that were publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated.   The laws must also be consistent with international human rights norms and standards.  The United Nations must set the highest standard by its behaviour.  Ensuring that United Nations officials and experts were held accountable for criminal acts was crucial to the Organization’s integrity and effectiveness while also sending an important message of deterrence.

He said the reports submitted to the General Assembly by Member States served to identify legislative gaps in national criminal jurisdictions.  They also helped determine the scope of problems more broadly.  However, more must be done to close the jurisdictional gap.  States must consider establishing jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by their national while serving with the United Nations.  They must also report on efforts taken to investigate and prosecute where appropriate.

He said deployment training and codes of conduct had a role to play in terms of prevention.  The efforts of the Departments of Peacekeeping and of Field Support were commendable in increasing skills and awareness.  A convention requiring Member States to exercise criminal jurisdiction over their nationals while working with United Nations should be discussed.

HILDING LUNDKVIST (Sweden), speaking for the European Union, said the emerging picture of information on this matter suggested that some Member States had legislation and the capacity necessary to exercise jurisdiction fully over nationals participating in United Nations missions while other States were more limited in this area.  Identified jurisdictional gaps must be addressed, and the European Union supported measures that gave a clear political signal that serious criminal acts committed by United Nations officials and experts on missions would not be tolerated.

He said that, further, the European Union supported the dual track of combining both short- and long-term measures as the most appropriate way to deal with this issue.  It was prepared to consider a proposal for an international convention which would list the circumstance where Member States could exercise jurisdiction, as well as the categories of individuals and crimes subject to that jurisdiction.

ALEJANDRO RODILES ( Mexico), speaking for the Rio Group of countries, said criminal acts could not be beyond the law, regardless of who committed them.  The United Nations must enforce a zero tolerance policy, which required enforcement of the rule of law, and must lead the way in fighting impunity through a truly common response.  The relevant resolutions adopted by the Assembly proved the serious intention of the United Nations to address problems.

He said the terminology in the Spanish version of the name of the topic was of concern and that a written note would be submitted to translators and interpreters.  The Spanish, he said, should be closer to the spirit of the English with regard to “officials and experts”.  States should enact appropriate legislation to create a basis for cooperation between States and with the United Nations system to ensure that impunity associated with serious crimes had no room anywhere on missions.

He said the reporting obligations to the Secretary-General were helpful, but States must also continue to receive information from the Secretariat about statistics, so as to reflect the true extent of the problem.  The dialogue with the Secretariat must continue with regard to capacity building and the status of privileges and immunities.  Investigations in the field and during prosecutions were among the many areas for improvement which posed great challenges.

NAMIRA NEGM ( Egypt), for the African Group, said that, as there was a high number of United Nations officials in Africa, the issue of criminal accountability was of the utmost importance to the Group.  While noting the exceptional contributions and sacrifices of peacekeepers and all Untied Nations officials, she also expressed concern about the instances of sexual abuse and exploitation committed by a few.

She said States had indicated their readiness to assist in criminal investigation and criminal extradition, based on applicable multilateral and bilateral extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties.  In the fight against impunity, the African Group believed that United Nations officials and experts on mission needed to be held accountable whenever they committed criminal acts.

Cooperation between States, which was the basis of international law, would strengthen national capacity in judicial institutions.  She encouraged troop-contributing countries to further highlight the issue of sexual abuse and other criminal acts during mandatory predeployment trainings.  To that end, she commended the preventative measures by the Conduct and Discipline Unit for providing a more adapted predeployment training material.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, said the issue was of great importance as the non-aligned countries contributed over 80 percent of peacekeeping personnel in the field.  He stressed the importance of maintaining a policy of zero-tolerance, especially in cases of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by peacekeeping personnel.

He also stated that the Non-Aligned Movement looked forward to receiving more information concerning the number, and types of credible allegations, as well as actions taken by both the United Nations and Member States, so that the systemic dimensions and nature of the criminal behaviour needing to be addressed could be fully understood.

EIHAB SAMI SALEM OMAISH (Jordan) said United Nations officials and experts were commendable for carrying out their work under dangerous conditions but the work they performed had to be carried out with the highest standards of integrity.  The behaviour of some persons on missions violated the Organization’s integrity.

In the matter of personal integrity, he said, his country’s law held that nationals were liable to national laws even when they were abroad, including members of the military.  Jordan also cooperated with other States and with the United Nations in investigations and in bringing about justice.  The Secretary-General’s report was an important contribution to building a “preventative” environment.  The work of relevant expert groups and training activities also contributed to reinforcing a zero tolerance policy.

He said perpetrators of crimes had to be brought to justice through the establishment of mechanisms that ensured there were no legislative gaps in jurisdiction and through the promotion of cooperative arrangements between States and the United Nations to ensure that justice was carried out and the principle of no tolerance for impunity was upheld.

EMMANUEL BICHET ( Switzerland) said the message to the international community needed to be “loud and clear that crimes must not go unpunished.”  To this end, there could be no exceptions made for United Nations officials and experts on mission.  The diversity of judicial systems and the different variants in regards to jurisdiction over acts committed by members of the United Nations illustrated gaps that continued to exist, notably in regards to extra-territoriality.

He said he was convinced that an international convention on criminal accountability would be able to successfully address those gaps in that domain.

MARTY NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said the Secretary-General’s report reflected the efforts of States to comply with relevant resolutions to establish jurisdiction over crimes that may be committed by their nationals serving as officials or experts with the United Nations.  As a troop-contributor, Indonesia had always stressed the need to establish high standards of behaviour for peacekeepers; the law must be upheld and perpetrators of crimes must be brought to justice.

In conflict zones where missions were deployed, he said, “people do not see individuals, but the institution they represent.”  It was for that reason that the “zero tolerance” policy must be implemented and that, beyond training, other awareness-raising practical measures must be strengthened.  The Peacekeeping and Field Support Departments of the United Nations, as well as the Conduct and Discipline Units at Headquarters and with missions, had made a significant impact toward reaching high standards for personnel in the field over the past three years.  The technical input for development of training materials with regard to protection from sexual exploitation and abuse was particularly useful, both as developed for managers and for focal points.  His country had been chosen for piloting the programme.

Finally, he said, perpetrators of serious crimes must not escape justice.  Cooperation among States, and between them and the United Nations, must be strengthened.  Practical ways must be developed for enhancing the institution of higher measures and for strengthening awareness-raising measures, as well as in the carrying out of investigations and collection of evidence in the event of unfortunate misconduct.

ANA RODRIGUEZ ( Guatemala) said that although it may have been overlooked in the past, it was time to evaluate aims and achievement in this area.  She noted that the term “official” was restrictive and called for the word “staff” to be engaged instead, since its scope was more appropriate in holding United Nations personnel and experts on mission accountable for criminal acts.  She also noted that “experts on mission” did not include observers or advisors, among others.  In seeking measures to address this, her country opted for a short-term approach while waiting for more information, specifically numbers and descriptions of misdemeanours or acts that affected the community of the host country.

ZULKIFLI NOORDIN ( Malaysia) said he fully supported the United Nations’ policy of zero-tolerance regarding serious crimes.  United Nations officials and experts on mission were expected to respect and comply with Malaysian law and procedures, and to that end his country had established the Malaysian Peacekeeping Training Centre in 1996 to ensure that Malaysian peacekeeping personnel performed their duties appropriately.

He said Malaysia -- through its Armed Forces Act of 1972 and its Police Act of 1967 -- established jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by its military personnel and civilian police personnel when in the capacity of officials or experts on mission.  Malaysia would also claim extra-territorial criminal jurisdiction in the case of terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking, among others.  As for concerns raised on the practical aspects of establishing extra-territorial criminal jurisdiction and the obtaining of evidence, as well as information and evidence-sharing mechanisms, he called for in-depth consideration by the working group to be established on this issue during the current session.

ÅSMUND ERIKSEN ( Norway) said impunity fostered anger, suspicion and mistrust.  The effectiveness and legitimacy of the United Nations depended on people’s trust.  The zero-tolerance policy must be enforced to avoid jeopardizing trust in the Organization.  Both short and long-term measures must be implemented to avoid impunity for serious crimes committed by United Nations officials.  States must establish jurisdiction over their nationals.  States that had not yet done so should report on national legislation so as to complete the picture of State jurisdiction over nationals.  Cooperation must also be enhanced and that could best be achieved through the establishment of an internationally binding legal framework.

In addition, he said, the resolutions that had been passed in the General Assembly as measures to address impunity were diluted by reference to domestic legislation.  Obviously, cooperation must be carried out in compliance with domestic law, but such law could not serve as a justification for refraining from cooperating, as recommended in the resolution.  States must be prepared to consider amending domestic law when warranted.

GUO XIAOMEI (China), stating support for the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on the issue, expressed readiness to continue to exchange views with all sides.  She said ensuring criminal accountability required, establishing necessary judicial assistance mechanisms as well as enhancing international cooperation.  This cooperation needed to be established not just between Member States of the officials and experts involved and the host State, but also between Member States and the United Nations.  She said she was in favour of giving priority to the host States where the criminal acts were actually committed to initiate investigations and prosecutions.

GUILLAUME KANYIMBUE ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the criminal behaviour of some staff had tarnished the reputation of the United Nations.  There had been much talk about preventing impunity of United Nations personnel on mission, but States were often unprepared with legal instruments to address situations.  In such cases, the only choice was to return offenders to the United Nations, from where they were sent to home countries.  That was how impunity was perpetrated.  Training, both pre-induction and in the field, as well as awareness-raising initiatives, were essential tools to counteract criminal abuses.

He said the zero-tolerance policy had been prompted by the 2004 allegations of misconduct by United Nations officials in his country, yet the cases in the report did not refer specifically to sexual misconduct.  Recently, a Democratic Republic of the Congo contingent had stopped a group of Blue Helmets from raping a young girl near the airport in Kinshasa and yet nothing had been done to those peacekeepers.

Only a convention would close “the existing legal vacuum,” he said.  The international instrument would be very influential in deterrence and a General Assembly resolution was a start.  It was understandable that States may wish to exclude their military contingents but that could not ensure the safety of potential victims, and holding civilians accountable but not military would likely lead to a double standard.  The instrument should not be limited to sexual crimes but should also cover economic crimes such as exploitation of persons and natural resources.  A definition of “crimes of a serious nature” should be elaborated.  Troop contributing countries that had not yet done so should investigate allegations of wrong-doing by their nationals, and should report the findings to the Secretary-General.  Finally, restitution must be made, including through support of children born out of misdeeds.

ANDRE KALININ ( Russian Federation) said it was unacceptable that there were still incidents of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse by United Nations personnel.  These and other crimes tarnished the reputation of the United Nations.  He noted that the report of the Secretary-General showed that Member States did have specific mechanisms for prosecution.  The Russian Federation had such provisions for crimes committed by their citizens outside the Federation.

Commenting on the small number of cases that were noted in the report, he said that, on one hand, it could reflect that criminal prosecution of United Nations officials and experts was being satisfactorily addressed.  On the other hand, however, he feared that it might attest to the need for a timelier reporting by Member States of violations that had taken place.  He noted that four out of the five crimes reported were those of personal gain, and he called for a broader definition of serious criminal acts.  

THANISA NAIDU ( South Africa) spoke of her concern at continued reports of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by United Nations personnel and called for implementing a zero-tolerance policy as a priority.  The Secretary-General must provide concrete information on incidents of abuses and criminal conduct, so as to provide a full understanding of the prevalence of the problem with a view toward designing appropriate legal responses.

She said it was because of jurisdictional gaps in ensuring accountability that allowed criminality to occur, particularly in situations where the host State and the offender’s State of nationality were unable to exercise criminal jurisdiction with respect to an alleged offender.  The Secretary-General’s report indicated some of the measures States had taken to address such situations.  All efforts to maximize cooperation and bring about justice were welcome.

CHULL JOU PARK ( Republic of Korea) stated that his country had already established jurisdiction over crimes committed by its nationals while serving as United Nations officials and experts on mission.  Regular and constant training and awareness-raising about United Nations standards of conduct were essential for the prevention of misconduct and crimes.

Commending the launch of the new core predeployment training material by the Conduct and Discipline Unit, he said it was important to preserve the image and credibility of the United Nations as a primary defender of international peace and security and human rights.

PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) said those working with the United Nations must maintain the highest degree of morality and accountability; nothing should exempt any staff member or official from the highest standards of conduct.  It was unacceptable that United Nations members who had misbehaved could be protected through legal gaps providing them with impunity.  The image, credibility and reputation of the United Nations were at stake.  He said domestic laws must ensure that nationals of States were held accountable and that measures were in place to provide for cooperative arrangements in bringing alleged perpetrators to justice.  Awareness-raising mechanisms must be devised with regard to maintaining standards of conduct and for promoting a culture of prevention.  Existing mechanisms to address current legislative gaps should be strengthened and consideration should be given to formulating an international convention.  In the short term, in addition to the strengthening of cooperative arrangements, there should be a strengthening of mechanisms for information exchange and for investigations. 

MARY MCLEOD ( United States) said United Nations officials and experts on mission should be held accountable for the crimes they committed.  She commended the Organization on efforts to address that important issue, including through training UN peacekeepers on proscribed activities, as well as on efforts to refer credible allegations against UN officials and experts to the State of the alleged offender’s nationality during the reporting period.  She urged those States to take appropriate action and report to the United Nations on the disposition of the cases.  States must play a key role in curbing abuses and all Member States stood to benefit from the Secretariat’s reporting on efforts taken by States to investigate and prosecute referred cases.

As for the possible negotiation of a multilateral convention on criminal accountability of UN staff and experts on mission, she wondered if such negotiation would present the most efficient or effective means through which to ensure accountability.  A convention that merely closed theoretical gaps in jurisdiction might not significantly contribute to addressing the crimes at issue, particularly if the impediments to accountability lay elsewhere.  She urged States to redouble efforts to develop practical ways to address the underlying causes of such impediments.

JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela) said the issue of impunity was of great relevance, and it was crucial that the Committee continue to work on the issue.  He supported measures to prosecute United Nations official and experts on mission.  However, while engaging legal mechanisms it was also important to respect due process and individual rights.

The increased and improved training policy for “predeployment” was also a beneficial asset, and he urged that recruitment policy contain measures that evaluated not just a person’s personal and professional attributes but also their ethical actions.  Any criminal act, especially those of a sexual nature against women and children, must be punished so that the dignity of the victims could be restored.  Member States should collaborate and pull together their efforts to fight against impunity.

BUKUN-OLU ONEMOLA ( Nigeria) said that, as a major troop-contributing country for United Nations peacekeeping missions, Nigeria provided mandatory predeployment training for all its military and police personnel.  For that reason, it commended the Conduct and Discipline Unit and the Secretariat for their work to strengthen training on conduct.  They should continue to improve on their techniques and materials.

He noted that armed forces personnel from his country were subject to military discipline established by a 2003 act that had extra-territorial validity, and that Nigeria had also entered into bilateral agreements that facilitated cooperation in criminal matters.  He said his country cooperated with the United Nations in the investigation of offences committed by any nationals on mission.  Reiterating firm support for the zero-tolerance policy for criminal conduct by United Nations personnel on mission, he called for enhanced cooperation among States, and between States and the Organization in such areas as extradition, sentences and judicial assistance mechanisms.

BUKUN-OLU ONEMOLA ( Nigeria) said that, as a major troop-contributing country for United Nations peacekeeping missions, Nigeria provided mandatory predeployment training for all its military and police personnel.  For that reason, it commended the Conduct and Discipline Unit and the Secretariat for their work to strengthen training on conduct.  They should continue to improve on their techniques and materials.

He noted that armed forces personnel from his country were subject to military discipline established by a 2003 act that had extra-territorial validity, and that Nigeria had also entered into bilateral agreements that facilitated cooperation in criminal matters.  He said his country cooperated with the United Nations in the investigation of offences committed by any nationals on mission.  Reiterating firm support for the zero-tolerance policy for criminal conduct by United Nations personnel on mission, he called for enhanced cooperation among States, and between States and the Organization in such areas as extradition, sentences and judicial assistance mechanisms.

ISMAIL CHEKKORI ( Morocco) said the measures and mechanisms for preventing impunity must be strengthened, both within the United Nations and in relevant parallel arenas.  The United Nations code of conduct must be respected by all who worked with the Organization.  Training and awareness-raising activities within the United Nations system must also be developed and implemented, with the concept of “conduct” teams extended to all missions.  There must be closer coordination and cooperation to address the current legal vacuum in ensuring adherence to standards of conduct, particularly through the mechanism of States exercising their legislative jurisdiction over their nationals while on mission with the United Nations.  States must also pool their efforts with each other to ensure that nationals did not go unpunished.

He said the same principles of equity and justice must be applied to all within the United Nations system.  There must also be follow-through on the outcome of investigations, including by restoring the reputation of an official if an allegation proved to be unfounded.  In the long term, a convention to address issues would be useful.  The Legal Committee should work closely with the Special Committee on Peacekeeping.

FAISAL ALZAROONI ( United Arab Emirates) said he fully supported the implementation of a zero-tolerance policy for United Nations officials and experts on mission.  The damage and harm was not limited just to the victims, but it also affected the reputation of the Organizations and impeded its effectiveness.  The special status of United Nations staff in Member States needed to be ensured.  However, that did not mean impunity, and special scrutiny was needed, especially when host countries did not have the facilities to prosecute.

In his own country, he added, national legislation and international treaties combated impunity, and he called for established firm and clear standards that would guarantee the removal of immunity on all United Nations officials and experts on mission, including those who worked on contract.  Appreciating the efforts of peacekeeping personnel, who often worked in stressful circumstances, he also emphasised that no one could be held to be above the law.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.