Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members, observed on 25 March:
On the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members, we recognize the extreme dangers encountered by so many colleagues as they carry out the vital work of the United Nations.
The threats vary, from deliberate and deadly ambushes to kidnappings, intimidation and unlawful detention. But the thread is the same: these are unacceptable obstacles to fulfilling our mandates and advancing peace, sustainable development, human rights and humanitarian assistance around the globe. National staff are often at particular risk. As of 15 March this year, 20 United Nations personnel are in detention, including six arrested this year, five in 2020 and the rest before that.
Meanwhile, peacekeeping operations continue to be targeted; at least 10 of our personnel have lost their lives this year to malicious attacks.
I urge all countries to support the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, as well as its 2005 Optional Protocol. To date, only 95 countries are party to the Convention, and only 33 to the Protocol.
The United Nations will continue its efforts to protect our personnel and to pursue justice for the perpetrators of attacks. I thank the Standing Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service of the United Nations Staff Union for its advocacy and vigilance.
Together, we must do everything we can to ensure that those who undertake life-saving work around the world have the protection and conditions they need to fulfil their vital mission.