Geneva Conventions and United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill [ Lords]

Part of Registration of Births and Deaths (Welsh Language) – in the House of Commons at 12:45 pm on 1st April 2009.

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Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office 12:45 pm, 1st April 2009

To do full justice to that question, I shall deal with it in my closing remarks.

The optional protocol allows states to agree to extra measures to increase the legal protection of UN and associated personnel engaged in UN operations. The UN began providing legal protection to its personnel in 1994, when it adopted the convention on the safety of UN and associated personnel in response to rising casualties among UN peacekeepers and others. The convention makes three requirements of member states: that they prevent and punish, through domestic criminal law, attacks on UN personnel and others associated with UN operations; that they extradite the perpetrators of such acts; and that they implement other ancillary measures.

The scope of the convention is relatively narrow, applying to UN operations in only two categories. The first category covers those operations designed to maintain or restore international peace and security, and the second covers those operations that the UN Security Council or General Assembly has declared pose an exceptional risk to the safety of the personnel participating in them. That narrow scope of protection has been heavily criticised, in particular by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who called repeatedly for a protocol to extend the protection to those UN personnel not otherwise covered. That call was echoed at the world summit in September 2005.

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