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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2011

Sixth Committee - Agenda item 78 Criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission

Statement on behalf of CANZ by Ms Alice Revell Second Secretary/ Legal Adviser, 7 October 2011

Mr Chairman,

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

Criminal accountability is a fundamental pillar of the rule of law.  It must apply to everyone, including United Nations officials and experts on mission.  United Nations officials and experts represent the United Nations organisation.  Their conduct on mission must set the highest standard of respect for, and compliance with, the rule of law that the United Nations 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 organisation.  It also sends an important message of deterrence.

It is now six years since HRH Prince Zeid of Jordan’s landmark report into these issues was published, commissioned following the revelations in 2004 of sexual exploitation and abuse by a significant number of United Nations peacekeeping personnel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Since that time some improvements have been made in ensuring criminal accountability for United Nations officials and experts on mission.

We commend the Secretary-General’s report 66/174, implementing General Assembly resolution 65/20, for setting out the number and types of credible allegations against United Nations officials and experts on mission and the actions taken.  Specifically, we applaud the fact that during the 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 period, the Office of Legal Affairs has referred to the States of nationality the cases of six United Nations officials and two experts on mission for investigation and possible prosecution.  The fact that these referrals are taking place sends a strong signal that the United Nations is taking important steps to ensure criminal accountability of its staff.  These referrals should also help deter misconduct, corruption, and crime by staff of the United Nations.

The information collected by the Secretary-General from States on the establishment of jurisdiction particularly over crimes of a serious nature committed by their nationals whilst serving as United Nations officials or experts on mission is a useful first step.

However, CANZ considers that more remains to be done by States to close the jurisdictional gap.  We call on all States to respond to General Assembly resolution 62/63 and to consider establishing jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by their nationals whilst serving as United Nations 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.  While there may be immunity in the host state, there should not be impunity at home.

As a longer term solution, 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 and looks forward to participating in the working group to be held during UNGA 67.  We see this proposal as further strengthening the legitimacy and integrity of United Nations operations, and as promoting the highest standards of professionalism in those entrusted with such responsibilities. 

Thank you Mr Chairman.

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Page last updated: Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:49 NZDT