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Entitlements Across Legally Recognized Marriages

UN Extends Family Entitlements Across Legally Recognized Marriages, Partnerships

Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced today that any United Nations staff legally married or part of a legally recognized domestic partnership in their home country will be entitled to qualify for the entitlements provided for family members.

In an administrative bulletin issued to UN staff today but not scheduled to take effect until Sunday, Mr. Annan said the marriage or partnership must be recognized as valid by the laws of the country of the staff member's nationality.

When a staff member has dual nationality, the UN will recognize the nationality "with which the staff member is most closely associated for purposes of the Staff Regulations and Rules."

Mr. Annan said the decision "will continue to ensure respect for the social, religious and cultural diversity of the Member States and of their nationals."

As part of the new rule, the UN will ask the relevant Permanent Mission to the UN to confirm the legal validity of the staff member's marriage or domestic partnership.

A UN spokeswoman, responding to press questions at a briefing in New York, said the change is in keeping with the long-standing UN principle that issues of personal status should be determined by the law of the staff member's home country.

She noted that there has been a growing trend recently among several countries to recognize same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships of the same or different sex, and the bulletin simply reflected the trend.

She said that in cases such as the United States, where the marital law varies between states of the one country, the UN would act on the basis of decisions by that country's federal government.

The spokeswoman added that the UN did not know how many people the rule would affect or how much it would cost, but it expected the number of claimants to be small.

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