Monday, August 16, 2010
The new Optional Protocol (OP) to the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel is scheduled to become legally effective on Thursday of this week, August 19, 2010. The OP will take effect after achieving 22 ratifications, with the United Kingdom being the most recent country to ratify the OP last month. As its name suggests, the Convention is designed to provide protection to UN staff who are carrying out their work worldwide. The new OP expands the protection of the 1994 Convention to cover a wider range of employees who have been the subject of attacks, namely those delivering humanitarian assistance and those providing political and development assistance in peacebuilding situations. The 1994 Convention originally only applied to personnel engaged in peacekeeping operations. According to a UN Press Release, the OP is necessary because: "Last year alone, 28 civilian UN staff members were killed, according to the UN Staff Union, and at least 97 aid workers were killed, while 60 others were wounded and 92 more were abducted."