Press Releases

         9 December 2005

    Optional Protocol Corrects Flaw in Convention on Safety of United Nations, Associated Personnel, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly Meeting

    He Also Stresses Need to Conclude Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism

    NEW YORK, 8 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks to the General Assembly in New York today, 8 December:

    I congratulate the General Assembly on the important step it is taking today in adopting the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel.

    As I have stressed to you on many occasions, there is no more important responsibility for me as Secretary-General than to ensure the protection of the dedicated men and women who carry out vital missions of development and peace for the Untied Nations throughout the world.

    Security is also a core obligation of Member States. After all, these are your own nationals.

    The 1995 Convention is a key legal instrument in efforts to give United Nations and associated personnel the security and the environment they need to do their work. Its entry into force in 1999 was a major step forward in strengthening the legal regime surrounding United Nations protection.

    But the Convention had a serious flaw: humanitarian, development, and other non-peacekeeping operations were covered only through a declaration of exceptional risk. But this requirement was impractical. There are no generally agreed criteria for determining whether such a risk exists. Making such a declaration could be time-consuming. And political considerations could influence what is meant to be a technical assessment.

    The new Protocol corrects this flaw. It expands the legal protection to all other United Nations operations, from emergency humanitarian assistance to peacebuilding and the delivery of humanitarian, political and development assistance.

    At a time when the United Nations continues to face a security environment of unprecedented risk, I thank Member States for supporting our efforts to improve the overall security environment as well as our security management system under the leadership of the new Department of Safety and Security.

    Progress in establishing the new system has been significant. Among the Department's many activities are its efforts to establish close liaison and mutual dialogue between UN Designated Officials and host Government security and law enforcement authorities. There is still some way to go in this. I urge Governments to reach out to the UN's Designated Officials in their countries, so that we can sustain the current momentum.

    I also urge those Member States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Convention, and all Member States to become party to the Protocol whose adoption we mark today. Without security, our work for your people suffers.

    The Assembly has also received today the report of the Sixth Committee on its efforts to conclude a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.

    Terrorism is one of the grave threats facing humanity in these times. The international community has already made great strides in elaborating many international instruments to combat it. The conclusion of the Comprehensive Convention would be an important complement to the existing legal framework, and it is therefore important that every effort should be made to finalize negotiations on the text during the current session, as agreed by Heads of State and Governments in the 2005 World Summit Outcome.

    I encourage you all to explore all possibilities for reaching a successful outcome early next year, and I stand ready to assist your efforts.

    I also urge Member States that have not yet done so to become parties to, and implement, the existing anti-terrorism instruments.

    I also stand ready, if so requested by the General Assembly, to amplify and further refine the elements of a counter-terrorism strategy that I identified in my Madrid speech last March.

    As terrorism continues to cause death and suffering to innocent people in many different parts of the world, we must do our utmost to forge a comprehensive, coordinated and consistent response.

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