The statement was held under item 149 "Scope of legal protection under the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel" on 20th October.
Norway has a longstanding commitment to the role and work of the United Nations and associated personnel, who often risk their lives for the sake of others. We commend these men and women on their courage and commitment to assisting people in need, and on their efforts to promote our shared cause of strengthening and maintaining peace and rebuilding communities.
The deliberate targeting of civilian personnel engaged in humanitarian operations and other civilian action calls for concerted efforts in many different fields. The safety and security of UN personnel is high on the agenda of the 59th General Assembly, and has been underlined in the Secretary General’s report on reform of the UN Security Management System.
International law can play a particularly significant role in this. The Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel provides a legal framework for addressing some of these crimes. This year we are marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention. The Norwegian Government worked actively for its adoption and ratified it in 1995. Adoption and implementation of the Convention is an important first step towards legal protection for those who risk so much in the interests of peace. Promoting the universality of the Convention, in terms of both increasing the number of ratifications and promoting universal application, is a priority for Norway.
The establishment of the International Criminal Court represents a decisive step towards putting an end to impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern. Norway worked hard to ensure that intentional attacks on peacekeepers and humanitarian personnel were included as a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute. We urge all States that are not yet parties to the Rome Statute to consider ratifying it or acceding to it without delay, and to adopt implementing legislation.
Stronger action must be taken by all states to ensure that any act of violence committed against humanitarian personnel on their territory, and any threat of violence, is investigated fully and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. Impunity in this regard is unacceptable.
We are encouraged by the increased implementation of the short-term measure of incorporating the key provisions of the Convention into status agreements concluded when a peacekeeping operation is deployed. The need for such incorporation remains acute as long as the requirement for a declaration of exceptional risk is not dispensed with. We agree with the Secretary-General that the requirement of a declaration of exceptional risk remains the single most important limitation to the protective regime of the Convention. The failure to issue a declaration of exceptional risk for the United Nations operations in Afghanistan, despite the recommendation to the General Assembly to do so, clearly shows that the existing regime does not work as intended. If this is to be addressed, a long-term legal solution is required.
Norway therefore continues to support the preparation of an additional protocol to the 1994 Convention. The Protocol should dispense with the requirement of a declaration of exceptional risk as a trigger mechanism for the application of the Convention for the parties to the Protocol. However, such a protocol must in no way weaken the existing legal regime under the 1994 Convention.
We are pleased with the progress made both in the Ad Hoc Committee in April and in the Working Group of the Sixth Committee. We commend all delegations on their constructive co-operation. It is encouraging that at the meeting of the working group we succeeded in agreeing on the co-ordinator’s paper as a basis for our further deliberations. In our opinion this text provides a constructive basis for continued discussions. It brings us closer to fulfilling our mandate, namely to broaden the scope of legal protection under the 1994 Convention. We now have a realistic hope that the General Assembly will soon reach consensus on this important issue, which is of interest to the Organisation and the Member States alike.
In conclusion, Mr Chairman, let me express once again Norway’s full commitment to providing a safer environment for the work of United Nations and associated personnel who operate under difficult conditions on our behalf. If this important work is to be continued, enhancing the safety of humanitarian and other civilian personnel must remain a matter of urgent concern to the international community. We owe it to those who risk their lives in the service of peace to overcome the shortcomings of the existing Convention.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.