Norway continues to attach great importance to the topic of criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission, and I am therefore grateful for this opportunity to give a brief description of our views on this matter.
There is broad agreement that serious crimes, such as sexual exploitation and abuse, cannot go unpunished. The principle of no impunity applies to all serious crimes regardless of the circumstances under which they are committed. Impunity fosters anger, suspicion and mistrust. We cannot afford to jeopardize the trust and support that the UN enjoys worldwide. Norway therefore fully supports the UN zero-tolerance policy towards sexual crimes committed by its officials. We also fully support efforts to bring to justice those who commit serious crimes while on duty for the UN.
We share the view that it is necessary to adopt and implement both short-term and long-term measures to avoid impunity for serious crimes committed by UN officials and experts on mission.
First and foremost, States must establish jurisdiction to cover serious crimes committed by their nationals serving as members of a UN mission. This need has been repeatedly underlined in recent General Assembly resolutions. We call on all States that have not already done so to provide information regarding their relevant legislation to the Secretary General in order to gain a full picture of the extent to which States have established jurisdiction over their nationals abroad. This information will be of great assistance to us all as the work under this agenda item progresses.
Norway remains convinced that in order to effectively respond to the challenges we face in relation to crimes committed by UN officials and experts on mission, we need to strengthen cooperation both between Member States and between Member States and the United Nations. Our assessment continues to be that enhanced cooperation and information sharing best can be achieved through the establishment of a legally binding framework.
The General Assembly resolutions adopted at the last sessions have contributed to our common goal of avoiding impunity. As will be recalled, these resolutions offer several concrete recommendations with regard to strengthened cooperation. However, a number of these recommendations are qualified by a reference to States’ domestic law. While it is obvious that cooperation in the field of criminal law must be carried out in compliance with domestic law, it is equally clear to us that current domestic law cannot serve as a justification for refraining from cooperating as recommended in the resolution. Rather, it is our view that States must be prepared to consider amending their domestic law when this is warranted in order to achieve the object and purpose of the resolution.
Let me also thank the Secretary General for his report under this agenda item. The report provides, inter alia, useful information on cases where credible allegations that a crime may have been committed have been brought to the attention of the state of nationality of the alleged perpetrator. We note with concern that the UN has received few responses from these States on how allegations have been handled in their domestic jurisdiction. It is our hope that more such responses are forthcoming as this will shed more light on the extent to which crimes committed by UN officials today may go unpunished.
We note that the report does not give reason to believe that criminal conduct of UN officials and experts on mission is widespread. However, we would in this regard appreciate receiving the Secretariat’s assessment as to whether the number of cases reported accurately reflects the reality or whether there may be cases that are unreported.
At the same time we would also caution against hasty conclusions that the relatively low number of reported cases could serve as justification for keeping the legal status quo on criminal accountability for UN officials and experts on mission. In our view, our task here is not only to establish a system that ensures justice today. Rather, we need to put a mechanism in place that can deal effectively with allegations of serious crimes being committed on a larger scale, should such a situation again occur in the future.