Guterres urges protection of U.N. staff and associated personnel

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The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. /VCG
The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. /VCG

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday urged all countries to support the international treaty protecting U.N. staff and associated personnel, and to ensure all those who carry out the vital work of the Organization have the safety they need to fulfill their mission.

Guterres made the call on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members.

“The threats vary – from deliberate and deadly ambushes to kidnappings, intimidation and unlawful detention. But the thread is the same: these are unacceptable obstacles to fulfilling our mandates and advancing peace, sustainable development, human rights and humanitarian assistance around the globe. National staff are often at particular risk”, he said.

The International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members is marked each year on 25 March to mobilize action, demand justice and strengthen the world’s resolve to protect U.N. staff and peacekeepers, as well as personnel in the non-governmental community and the press.

According to U.N. data, as of 15 March, 20 United Nations personnel are in detention, including six who were arrested this year, five in 2020, and the rest before that.

In his message, the U.N. chief urged all countries to support the 1994 Convention on the Safety of U.N. and Associated Personnel as well as its 2005 Optional Protocol, which extends protection to U.N. personnel delivering humanitarian, political or development assistance.

He reiterated that the Organization “will continue its efforts to protect our personnel, and to pursue justice for the perpetrators of attacks.”

“Together, we must do everything we can to ensure that those who undertake lifesaving work around the world have the protection and conditions they need to fulfil their vital mission”, he noted.

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