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Countries asked to ratify safety of UN personnel

Annan urges all countries to ratify treaty on safety of UN personnel

In the most recent of his continuing efforts to improve the safety of United Nations staff in the field, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged all nations to sign on to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel.

In a letter addressed to the Heads of State or Government and Foreign Ministers who are expected to attend the General Assembly later this month, Mr. Annan invited countries that have not already ratified or acceded to the Convention to do so at a high-level treaty event that will take place at UN Headquarters in New York from 23 to 26 September, concurrent with the Assembly's general debate.

As of yesterday, the Convention, adopted in 1994 after an increase in the number of attacks on personnel working in UN operations worldwide, had 66 States parties. Efforts are continuing to ensure that all States that have significant numbers of UN or associated personnel will accede to it.

The instrument provides a framework of internationally accepted rules that criminalize attacks on UN and humanitarian personnel. It also imposes legal obligations on States parties to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety and security of such workers.

Though UN staff have been targeted before, last month's attack on the world body's Baghdad headquarters - which left 22 people dead and at least 100 others wounded - was the most deliberate and devastating.

The Security Council denounced the "criminal terrorist attack" as an assault on "the international community as a whole" and quickly passed a resolution reaffirming the obligation of all parties involved in armed conflict to comply fully with the rules and principles of international law "related to the protection of humanitarian personnel and United Nations and its associated personnel, in particular, international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law."

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