62nd Session of the General Assembly - 6th Committee - criminal accountability - Statement by João Madureira, Counsellor (Legal Affairs), Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations on behalf of the European Union, New York, October 15th 2007
62nd Session of the General Assembly
Statement by João Madureira, Counsellor (Legal Affairs)
Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations
on behalf of the European Union
New York, October 15th 2007
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Country the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro and Serbia, the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
The European Union would first like to congratulate the Group of Legal Experts for their report on ensuring accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission and for their extensive set of proposals on how to ensure criminal accountability for crimes committed by such personnel during peacekeeping operations. We would also like to thank the secretariat for its recent report on this issue which addresses a number of issues raised during the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Criminal Accountability last April.
The EU fully supports the ‘zero tolerance’ policy of the United Nations that has been advocated by the Secretary-General in his Bulletin on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For the EU it is crucial that any person participating in a UN operation who commits serious crimes should not go unpunished, and must be held accountable for such conduct. We believe that the obstacles that exist in holding UN personnel and experts on mission accountable for crimes committed during UN operations should be overcome. The question for us is to find the best way to ensure this, in accordance with the principles of rule of law, due process and human rights, and in conformity with the UN Charter. The recommendations made by the Secretariat in its last report, which build on the recommendations of the Group of Legal Experts, are an important contribution to that end.
Member States should work together with the Organization to ensure that UN officials and experts on mission would not be effectively exempt, due to their special status, from being held accountable for criminal acts committed by them at their duty station, especially in situations where prosecution by the State host is not feasible. The Organization and its members must give a clear political signal that the UN will not tolerate criminal misconduct and will actively work for the prevention and prosecution of any such act.
The group of legal experts identified jurisdictional gaps which prevent UN officials and experts being prosecuted in such circumstances. The EU believes that the challenge is how to fill these gaps and improve cooperation between all parties concerned in a way that blends into the existing national and international structures in the field. One way forward would be to encourage States to establish, assert and exercise criminal jurisdiction over their nationals participating in UN operations who commit serious crimes in a host State, additionally to that of this State, in order to fill a possible jurisdictional gap and ensure that the alleged offender does not escape prosecution.
The EU supports the dual track approach combining both short-term measures and long-term measures, as this seems to be the most appropriate way to deal with this issue and to encourage Member States to address possible jurisdictional gap so as to ensure adequate prosecution as swiftly as possible.
The EU supports the main thrust of the short term measures as proposed by the Secretariat in its recent report and most particularly the idea of elaborating a resolution of the General Assembly and is ready to engage actively in the work of 6th Committee in this regard.
Such a resolution could delineate a framework of principles within which measures should be sought and include, also, a request encouraging Member States and the UN to cooperate in the sharing of information, the gathering of evidence and ensuring the availability of witnesses. Such Cooperation could assist facilitating the exercise of jurisdiction by the State of nationality.
We recognize however that this question may not be resolved through the adoption of such short term measures alone. The EU is willing to continue further work on this issue, on the basis of the relevant recommendations of the Group of Legal Experts and examine in more detail the merits and content of the proposal to draft a convention including its interaction with other relevant instruments. In this regard we support the convening of an Ad hoc Committee for the continuation of the consideration of this matter.
The advantages of a convention could be that would provide clarity on the circumstances in which member States should establish jurisdiction as well as on the categories of personnel and types of crimes to which such extraterritorial jurisdiction should apply.
Such an instrument would, importantly, also facilitate international cooperation and cooperation between States Parties and the UN, taking its place in the framework of the existing conventions on the UN and its personnel.
The EU firmly believes that crimes committed by persons participating in United Nations operations have a serious impact not only on the victim and the host country, but also on the on the confidence and trust that the international community places on the name of the Organization. Therefore, our response to this problem should be comprehensive and resolute and should aim at enhancing the credibility of the UN operations and the effective realization of their mandate.
Thank you Mr Chairman.