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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2009

Sixth Committee, Criminal Accountability of United Nations, Experts and Officials on Mission

Statement by Mr Paul Neville MP, Parliament Adviser to the Australian delegation to the United Nations, 13 October 2009

Mr Chairman

I have the honour today of speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, as well as Australia.

Criminal accountability is a fundamental pillar of the rule of law. As the Secretary General has said, the rule of law requires all persons to be accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards.

CANZ considers that the United Nations, by its conduct, must set the highest standards of respect for the rule of law that it seeks to foster around the globe. Ensuring that United Nations officials and experts on mission are held accountable for criminal acts is crucial to the organisation’s integrity and effectiveness. It also sends an importance message of deterrence.

Mr Chairman

We commend the Secretary General’s report 64/183 implementing General Assembly resolution 63/119. The report’s mapping of the extent to which national laws provide jurisdiction over nationals serving as United Nations officials or experts is a useful step forward. This information should assist to identify legislative gaps in national criminal jurisdictions and determine the scope of the problem more broadly.

CANZ considers, however, that more remains to be done by the community of States that make up the UN to close the jurisdictional gap. We call on States to respond to General Assembly resolution 62/63 and to consider establishing jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by their nationals whilst serving as UN officials and experts on mission, and to report on efforts taken to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute their nationals for such crimes.

In terms of preventing misconduct and crime, deployment training and codes of conduct also have a role to play. In this regard, CANZ commends the ongoing efforts of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support to increase the skills and awareness of United Nations staff.

Over the longer term, CANZ supports, in principle, the Secretariat’s proposal for a convention that requires Member States to exercise criminal jurisdiction over their nationals who are participating in United Nations operations abroad. CANZ would welcome further discussions in this regard.

Mr Chairman

Canada, Australia and New Zealand welcome this opportunity to work together to ensure the accountability of UN experts and officials on mission.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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