THE SECRETARY-GENERAL--MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH DETAINED AND MISSING STAFF MEMBERS
New York, 25 March 2010
The International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members has taken on even greater importance in recent years as attacks against the United Nations intensify. This is a day to mobilize action, demand justice and strengthen our resolve to protect UN staff and peacekeepers as well as our colleagues in the non-governmental community and the press.
There are now 24 United Nations civilian personnel who have been arrested or detained in relation to UN-specific activities or under circumstances when access or due process was denied. I demand full justice and due process for all and call for action on behalf of the two individuals, one in Eritrea and one in Somalia, who remain missing.
All States must work to strengthen the legal protection afforded to United Nations and associated personnel by adopting the main treaty aimed at preventing attacks committed against them and punishing those responsible.
I commend the States that have ratified the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel and call on all others to support this critical treaty without delay. The 2005 Optional Protocol to the Convention, which extends legal protection to other humanitarian workers, is now two countries short of the 22 ratifications needed for its entry into force. I urge all Member States to ratify that Optional Protocol as well as other parts of the relevant legal regime, including the Geneva Conventions, the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies and the Statute of the International Criminal Court.
I also pledge to work alongside the UN Staff Union's Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service, which has fought tirelessly to raise public awareness on this matter. We must not relent in our efforts to secure justice in all pending cases and prevent further abuses.
The International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members is marked each year on the anniversary of the abduction of Alec Collett, a former journalist who was working for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Near East when he was abducted by armed gunman in 1985. This year's solemn commemoration comes four months after his remains were finally found and returned to his family.
On this somber Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to honouring the memory of Mr. Collett, advocating for all detained and missing colleagues until justice is done, and ensuring that United Nations personnel and our partners have the protection they need to carry out their life-saving work.