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Summary record of the 6th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Wednesday, 10 October 2001, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. Lelong ........................................(Haiti)
Agenda item 167: Scope of legal protection under the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel (continued)
The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
Agenda item 167: Scope of legal protection under the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel (continued) (A/55/637)
6. Mr. Lenk (Israel) said that Israel was a strong believer in the centrality of increasing the ability of the United Nations to safely carry out its humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, an issue which the recent tragic deaths of United Nations workers in Afghanistan and Georgia had highlighted. In light of the difficulties caused by the violence in the Middle East throughout the previous year and the continuing humanitarian concerns in the region brought on by Palestinian terrorism and violence, Israel recognized the great need for the important efforts being made by United Nations and other international personnel. Moreover, given its continuing concerns for the security of its citizens and that of other residents and international personnel working in the region, it appreciated those humanitarian efforts and was doing its best to facilitate them. It was working in close collaboration with a range of United Nations organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and a plethora of international and non-governmental organizations, some of which it had been working with since the creation of the State of Israel, more than 53 years previously, to provide humanitarian aid and assistance to the victims of the strife in the Middle East. Israel remained hopeful that the situation would improve and that the violence would end for the benefit of all the residents of the region.
7. While it was axiomatic that Member States must make every effort to protect United Nations and associated personnel, humanitarian and peacekeeping missions should also recognize their security obligations. For example, it was impossible to comprehend how United Nations-run schools or work projects could be used as bases, firing areas or hiding places for terrorists, who not only endangered their targets, namely, Israeli civilians and military personnel in the region, but also consciously put at risk many of their countrymen, especially children and refugees. It was a matter of concern in the context of the discussion on United Nations personnel and the symbols and reputation of those vital international organizations. General Assembly resolution 55/175, of 19 December 2000, clearly stated that the primary responsibility under international law for the security and protection of humanitarian personnel and United Nations and associated personnel lay with the host. The United Nations must therefore stand up clearly to hosts which, like the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon, allowed such dangerous situations to exist in areas under their jurisdiction. Other examples included the dangerous misuse of protected symbols, the universally recognized symbols of the United Nations, which had been used by Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon the previous October while kidnapping three Israeli soldiers on the Israeli side of the Israel-Lebanon border, and the misuse of the Red Crescent symbols to allow for shooting from marked ambulances or facilities. There too, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross must speak out, act clearly and decisively and draw attention to the security concerns of their staff and the effects of those actions on the region. The United Nations and its personnel must also allow host States to take responsibility for the protection of personnel, without recrimination and with understanding. During the previous year, certain United Nations organizations had criticized Israel for taking measures to protect its people and others in the region. While it was true that such measures might sometimes limit access by humanitarian aid workers or officials as a result of the closure of roads and borders, Israel was making every effort to keep those limitations to a minimum. In recent weeks, the dangers of terrorism had become clearer to all and States must be able to fight that scourge and to protect their citizens and international workers with the support of the United Nations and the international community.
8. The members of the Sixth Committee were all genuinely interested in strengthening the protection of humanitarian and peacekeeping personnel and many of the suggestions of the Security Council deserved careful examination. Cooperation was needed to achieve that worthy goal and account must be taken of the various issues that had been raised over the previous two days and, especially now, only a month after the horrific attack that had taken place in New York, the international community must work together not to allow the continued threatening of the security of civilians and international personnel and to allow United Nations personnel to carry out their work.
The meeting rose at 1 p.m.
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