27 March 2006

Staff Union Appeals to Member States to Act Responsibly to Secure Release of All Colleagues

United Nations Staff Will Not Be Bullied to Give up Work for Peace, Union Says

NEW YORK, 24 March (UN Staff Union) -- The United Nations Staff Union appealed today to Governments to help secure the release of all United Nations staff members held unjustly and against their will.  The international community has an obligation to provide information on staff members who have been detained, abducted or kidnapped or who are missing, and to see that they are returned to their families.

The Staff Council's Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service notes that United Nations staff members are dedicated to advancing peace and development and serve at great personal risk in conflict-prone areas.  They deserve the respect, support and protection of all Governments, which must act responsibly and make every effort to free all of our suffering colleagues.

The Committee also calls on all Governments to sign and ratify the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, adopted by the General Assembly in 1994, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention, adopted by the Assembly last year.

Saturday is the anniversary of the abduction of Alec Collett, a British citizen and United Nations staff member, 21 years ago in Beirut, Lebanon, never to be seen again.  To highlight his fate, as well as that of many other colleagues, the staff of the United Nations has been observing 25 March as the Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members.  Mr. Collett's fate has come to symbolize the fate of too many staff members who have "disappeared" or have been detained for long periods while serving the Organization.

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