UN votes to shield aide workers

The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution to protect humanitarian aide workers in war zones, only after dropping a clause referring to the International Criminal Court (ICC) following US opposition.

    Council's decision creates no legal obligation

    Mexico’s draft version had referred to the ICC before Washington demanded the phrase should be deleted.

    The US objected to the original language that would have made any attack on humanitarian personnel a war crime, including acts committed in what it called "the fog of war".

    The resolution was passed on Tuesday, a week after a bomb attack against the world body’s offices in Baghdad killed 23, including top UN envoy to Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello.

    Washington’s ambassador to the UN John Negroponte said: “This resolution creates no new international legal obligation but rather reaffirms existing regulation.”

    Defiance

    The US envoy also pointed out that other international conventions allowed the occupying powers to prevent freedom of movement for aide workers in areas they occupied.

    UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, stressed the importance of a unanimous decision. He said the resolution “strengthens the obligation to take every step to protect those working ‘blue flag’ and to bring those to justice who hurt them”.

    Annan said removing reference of the ICC changed nothing, adding it was “a compromise necessary to get the resolution passed”.

    Non-government organisations (NGOs) and human rights groups lobbied for Mexico’s draft resolution.

    SOURCE: AFP


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