U.S. Statement on Need to Protect UN, Humanitarian Personnel

Report
from US Information Agency
Published on 09 Feb 2000
Primary responsibility rests with host government, Cunningham says
Ambassador James Cunningham of the United States addressed the United Nations Security Council February 9 on the issue of protecting U.N. and other humanitarian workers.

"Under all circumstances, U.N. and associated personnel have a right to protect themselves," Cunningham said. "Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon host states and other actors to create environments in which they can safely carry out their missions. The primary responsibility for the safety and security of humanitarian and United Nations personnel rests with the authorities of the host government."

Further, he said, "the (U.N.) Secretariat should develop comprehensive security plans for all missions, and it is imperative that all concerned parties cooperate fully with the United Nations so as to facilitate the timely and effective deployment of humanitarian and peacekeeping missions."

Following is Cunningham's statement:

(begin text)

Statement by Ambassador James B. Cunningham, on the Protection of United Nations Personnel, Associated Personnel, and Humanitarian Personnel, Security Council

February 9, 2000

Mr. President, Mr. Foreign Minister,

With the need for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations growing, the United States appreciates the focus Argentina brings this month to the protection of U.N. and associated personnel. Events in Kosovo, East Timor, Burundi, Sudan, Sierra Leone, and all too many other places have illustrated the dangers to which these personnel are exposed and how vulnerable they can be. As the Secretary-General informed us, nearly one hundred United Nations staff have been murdered in recent years. Another eighty have been killed in the line of duty. All these disturbing numbers do not include the numerous humanitarian personnel working for non-governmental organizations who have been murdered, kidnapped, shot or otherwise harmed. We pay tribute to these unarmed civilians who too often are the targets of unprovoked attacks which must be condemned.

The Security Council's decision to again address this issue reinforces the seriousness of the matter. We hope it will also inspire all governments and non-state actors to commit themselves to protecting those working for peace and humanitarian relief.

Mr. Minister,

As a community of nations, we share a moral obligation to take action to prevent the onset of violence, and when this fails, to mitigate conflict. We also share a responsibility to protect United Nations and associated personnel, humanitarian workers, and members of multi-national forces working for peace and stability in areas of conflict and hazardous situations. Under all circumstances, U.N. and associated personnel have a right to protect themselves. Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon host states and other actors to create environments in which they can safely carry out their missions. The primary responsibility for the safety and security of humanitarian and United Nations personnel rests with the authorities of the host government.

The Security Council, along with the Secretary-General and other concerned organs of the United Nations, must continue efforts to bolster security and force protection for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. The Secretariat should develop comprehensive security plans for all missions, and it is imperative that all concerned parties cooperate fully with the United Nations, so as to facilitate the timely and effective deployment of humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.

We further welcome the Security Council's decision to avail itself of all of the tools appropriate for protecting United Nations and associated and humanitarian personnel. For example, the United States supports sanctions targeted to deter and contain those who violate international humanitarian and human rights law, as well as those parties to conflicts who continually defy Security Council resolutions.

Again, we thank Argentina for giving its attention to this very important matter and welcome the opportunity to work with the U.N., Security Council members, and other concerned parties to identify better ways to protect those working for peace.

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(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)