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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2010

Criminal Accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission

Statement by Keith Morrill,  Counsellor,  Permanment Mission of Canada to the United Nations, 8 October 2010

Thank you Chair,

Canada has the honour today of speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand.

Criminal accountability is a fundamental pillar of the rule of law.  It must apply to all persons including United Nations officials and experts on mission.  United Nations officials and experts, as representatives of the United Nations organization, must, through their conduct on mission, set the highest standard of respect for, and compliance with, the rule of law that the UN seeks to foster around the world.  Ensuring that United Nations officials and experts on mission are accountable for criminal acts is critical to the integrity, credibility and effectiveness of the organization.  It also sends an important message of deterrence.

We commend the Secretary General’s report 65/185, implementing General Assembly resolution 64/110 for setting out the number and types of credible allegations against UN officials and experts on mission and the actions taken.  Specifically, we applaud the fact that the Office of Legal Affairs has referred to the States of nationality the cases of five United Nations officials for investigation and possible prosecution, during the 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 period.  The fact that these referrals are taking place sends a strong signal that the United Nations is taking major steps to ensure criminal accountability of its staff.  These referrals should also help deter misconduct, corruption, and crime by staff of the United Nations.

We further welcome the report’s discussion of the important issue of how the United Nations might support Member States, at their request, in the development of domestic criminal laws concerning the alleged commission of serious crimes by their nationals while serving as United Nations officials or experts.  We agree that the Office on Drugs and Crime, in close partnership with the Office of Legal Affairs, is well placed to provide assistance in the drafting of legislation on issues such as the criminalization, jurisdiction, investigation, international cooperation, and civil and financial liability relevant to United Nations officials and experts on mission.

The information collected by the Secretary General from States on the establishment of jurisdiction over crimes of a serious nature committed by their nationals whilst serving as UN officials and experts is a useful first step. CANZ considers that more remains to be done by States to close the jurisdictional gap.  We call on States to respond to the 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.  We further call on States to report on efforts taken to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute their nationals for such crimes.

Over the long term, CANZ supports the principles in 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 will continue to take part in those discussions.  We see this proposal as further strengthening the legitimacy and integrity of such operations, and as promoting the highest standards of professionalism in those entrusted with such responsibilities. 

Thank you Chair

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