Security Council adopts resolution to boost security of UN personnel.

The United Nations Security Council finally adopted a resolution on Tuesday to boost security of UN personnel and other aid workers in conflict zones after the United States and sponsor states of the measure made compromises to each other.

To get Washington on board, Mexico and other five co-sponsors agreed to cut out a reference to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which the Bush administration has been vehemently opposed to. But they refused to drop the wording that attacks against UN personnel are war crimes.

In the preamble, the unanimously adopted resolution 1502 says that "attacks knowingly and intentionally directed against personnel involved in a humanitarian assistance or peacekeeping mission" constitute war crimes.

Apparently, the word "knowingly" was added to the passage to defuse US fears that US soldiers who mistakenly killed humanitarian workers could be prosecuted for war crimes.

The original passage in the preamble said that attacks "intentionally" against UN personnel, like the one in Baghdad last week, "are a war crime in accordance with the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court."

Diplomats here said the United States first raised objections to the mentioning of the ICC and then demanded the removal of the entire paragraph.

Addressing the council before the vote, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged governments around the world to take measures to "protect those working under the (UN) blue flag, and to bring to justice those who attack or harm them."

"Last week's vicious attack on our headquarters in Baghdad, with all its tragic consequences, has brought this vital issue to the forefront of our priorities," he said.

The massive bombing in Baghdad left 23 people dead, including top UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello, and more than 100 others wounded. The tragedy prompted Mexico to re-circulate the draft resolution it presented in April.

"Impunity for those who commit such unpardonable can not stand. There must be action," Annan stressed.

By passing the resolution unanimously, he added, "you will send an unambiguous message to all those who mistakenly believe that, in today's turbulent world, they can advance their cause by targeting the servants of humanity."

The resolution condemns all forms of violence against UN personnel and other relief workers, and urges UN member states to ensure that crimes against such personnel do not remain unpunished.

Also on Tuesday, some 2,000 UN personnel joined Annan in a silent march around a fountain in front of the UN Secretariat building in New York to honor victims of the Baghdad bombing. Marchers held posters reading "When will it end?", "We will never forget you" and "Enough".

According to the UN spokesman's office, approximately 3,000 employees took part in a silent march at the UN Geneva headquarters on the same day.

[Source: Xinhua General News Service, Pekin, 26Aug03]

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This document has been published on 21oct03 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights, in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.