Secretary-General’s Message for 2017

On this International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members, we are still awaiting news of the fate of two members of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a sanctions-monitoring body established by the Security Council.  Mr. Michael Sharp and Ms. Zaida Catalan, went missing in the Kasai Central region on 12 March along with four Congolese nationals.  We are doing everything possible to find and help them.

This is just the latest case highlighting the perils that United Nations staff and our partners often face while serving the world’s people.  In 2016, seven of our colleagues were abducted by non-state actors; four were kept as hostages.  Fortunately, all were ultimately released safely.  More than 20 United Nations civilian personnel remain in detention.  Of these, six are being held without the United Nations having received any explanation for their arrest.  The Department of Safety and Security and I continue to monitor all of these cases and seek the immediate release of our colleagues.

Only 92 States – just half the membership – are party to the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, and merely 30 have ratified the 2005 Optional Protocol, which extends protection to UN personnel delivering humanitarian, political or development assistance.  I urge all countries that have not joined these instruments to do so without delay.

On this International Day, let us stand in solidarity with all detained staff and pledge to work together to ensure that all UN staff have the safety they need to help the world’s most vulnerable.

António Guterres