25 October 2005
Secretary-General Names Team of Experts to Study Best Ways to Ensure Accountability of United Nations Peacekeepers
Aim Is to Enforce Standards of Conduct and Discipline, in Line with Due Process
NEW YORK, 24 October (UN Headquarters) -- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed a group of legal experts to conduct a study on the best ways to ensure that United Nations staff members and experts on mission who serve in peacekeeping operations and who commit crimes during their peacekeeping assignments can be held criminally accountable in a manner consistent with due process of law.
The appointment of the Group of Experts is part of the broad package of reforms of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to improve conduct and discipline in United Nations operations.
The project is among the wide range of recommended actions proposed by Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Adviser on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by United Nations Peacekeeping Personnel, in his report submitted to the Secretary-General and adopted by the General Assembly last June.
United Nations staff serving on peacekeeping operations have functional immunity to ensure that they are able to undertake their functions in connection with the United Nations in an independent manner. Prince Zeid's report noted that the absence of a functioning judicial system in some peacekeeping locations mean that it was not feasible to waive immunity in those jurisdictions. As a result, there is a risk that United Nations staff members and experts on mission may be effectively exempt from the consequences of criminal acts. The Group of Experts has been tasked to study the best way to deal with this issue.
The Group of Experts began work at United Nations Headquarters in New York this month. It is expected to submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Secretary-General in January 2006. The Secretary-General will then submit the report to the General Assembly. Funding is being provided by the Government of Norway to support the work of the Group.
The Group is composed of five experts recruited on the basis of their professional expertise in criminal law, extradition law, assistance between countries in criminal matters, international human rights law and the privileges and immunities of the United Nations. The Group is working in close co-operation with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs in the process of developing their recommendations.
The background of the experts selected is geographically and culturally diverse so as to be able to represent different legal systems and traditions. They are:
-- Sinha Basnayake (Sri Lanka) -- Secretary for the Group of Experts. He was formerly the Director of the General Legal Division of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs. He has a background in the law of privileges and immunities, as well as United Nations staff regulations and rules. In 1999, he served as secretary of the group of legal experts of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
-- Enver Daniels (South Africa) -- Legal Expert in constitutional and commercial law. He is currently the Chief State Law Adviser to the Republic of South Africa and formerly Special Adviser to the Minister of Justice. He has a background in extradition and assistance between countries in criminal matters and understanding of the African region.
-- Veronika Milinchuk (Russia) -- Legal Expert in assistance between countries in criminal matters. She is currently Deputy Chief of the International Law Department in the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation. She has particular expertise in the elaboration of international agreements to combat transnational crime.
-- Jean-Pierre Picca (France) -- Legal Expert in civil law. He has specific expertise in assistance between countries in criminal matters and extraditions. He is currently the Senior Liaison Legal Adviser at the Embassy of France to the United States and the French Liaison Prosecutor at the Office of International Affairs, United States Department of Justice.
-- Suesan Sellick (Australia) -- Legal Expert in criminal matters. She is currently a Principal Legal Officer in the Attorney-General's Department in Australia and has previously served as a legal officer in the Australian Air Force.
-- Lionel Yee (Singapore) -- Legal Expert in international law. He is currently the Senior State Counsel in the Criminal Justice and International Affairs Division in the Attorney-General's Chambers in Singapore.
For more information, contact Nick Birnback, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, tel.: +1 917 367 5044, e-mail: email@example.com ; or Susan Manuel, Department of Public Information, tel.: +1 212 963 1262, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .
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