Sixth Committee, 7th meeting – UN General Assembly, 76th session
Carolyn Oppong-Ntiri (Mrs)
Deputy Permanent Representative
Ghana Permanent Mission to the United Nations
October 12, 2021, New York City
DURING THE SIXTH COMMITTEE’S CONSIDERATION OF AGENDA ITEM 79: “CRIMINAL ACCOUNTABILITY OF UNITED NATIONS OFFICIALS AND EXPERTS ON MISSION” AT THE 76TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
My delegation associates itself with the statements delivered by the distinguished representatives of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf of the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement respectively.
At the outset, my delegation expresses its appreciation to the Secretary General for his report contained in document A/76/205 and takes note of the system-wide policies and procedures relating to the reporting, investigation, referral and follow-up actions where credible allegations of crime are found to have been committed by personnel of the United Nations. My delegation considers important, the recommendation for the continued evaluation of the adequacy of the existing policies, as that would ensure effective accountability on one hand and deterrence on the other.
As a country with a deep commitment to the promotion of international peace and security, Ghana has since the 1960’s contributed to United Nations Peace Operations and is currently ranked the 10th troop and police contributing country. Ghana is therefore, well aware of the immense commitment and contributions of United Nations Experts and Officials on Mission to the fundamental global objective to promote international peace and security and we salute them for their efforts.
At the same time, we believe that there should be no derogation from the highest standards of professionalism and moral integrity. Ghana’s commitment to the Zero-tolerance policy for misconduct and the commission of crimes, including sexual exploitation and abuse, abuse of authority, fraud and corruption committed by UN personnel on Mission stems from the recognition that accountability, as a cardinal element of the rule of law, is necessary to uphold the integrity, credibility and relevance of the United Nations.
I am pleased to recall that Ghana is one of the countries to have been cited for commendable cooperation with the United Nations in the investigation and handling of disciplinary cases involving its personnel on peacekeeping missions. My delegation appreciates the opportunity to have shared our national experience during the ‘United Nations High-level Meeting on Strengthening the Conduct of Peacekeeping Personnel’ held in June of this year in New York.
The legal regime that regulates the conduct of the Armed Forces of Ghana, guarantees jurisdiction over the activities of service personnel in the home establishment and on external duties and ensures accountability for all acts and omissions that constitute criminal offences. The Code of Service Discipline and the Armed Forces Act (Act 105) together, comprehensively ensure criminal accountability of persons who are subject to their operation. Pursuant thereto, the Ghana Armed Forces spare no opportunity to ensure that complaints of alleged misconduct and criminal offences by its personnel on missions are thoroughly investigated, conclusively determined and appropriate sanctions applied.
It bears mentioning however, that the effective exercise of jurisdiction through national legislation and mechanisms is not without challenges. Delays in receiving complaints, lack of cooperation by complainants during investigations and trials and the loss or damage of evidence, underscore the need for enhanced cooperation between Member States and the United Nations to bridge jurisdictional gaps that exist in practice.
The appointment of a National Investigation Officer and the process of undertaking joint investigations with the Office of Internal Oversight Services have been helpful approaches in mitigating some of these challenges that have been outlined.
Ghana further encourages the strengthening of preventive measures such as comprehensive pre-deployment training, in-mission sensitization on criminal offences and robust enforcement. These actions must necessarily be undertaken to restore the image of the United Nations but more importantly, protect the already vulnerable populations, especially those in conflict afflicted areas, from the wrongs of the very people who have the mandate to protect them and keep the peace.
I Thank you.