Algerian diplomat heads panel on safety for UN personnel

Other News Materials 6 February 2008 02:59 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday appointed a former Algerian diplomat and veteran UN troubleshooter to head a controversial panel to find ways to improve safety and protection for UN personnel around the world.

Lakhdar Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister who spent years on the UN payroll as head of some peacekeeping missions, will lead the Independent Panel on Safety and Security of UN personnel and premises around the world. The panel was formed after 17 UN employees were killed on December 11 by bomb attacks in Algiers, which destroyed the office that housed several UN agencies.

The Algerian government originally rejected Ban's decision to set up an international investigative team, fearing that it would be blamed for lapses in protecting the UN premise in Algiers. Ban on Tuesday denied that Brahimi, an Algerian, would be more palatable to the Algerians, saying that Brahimi has been known as an international civil servant.

The UN said in a statement that the panel will examine "the inherent vulnerabilities of UN operations around the world in order to build confidence among the staff within the system and enhance credibility among the member states, civil society and other relevant stake holders."

The panel, which will be composed of international security and legal experts, will make recommendations on improving UN security and prevent new attacks, drawing on lessons in the past when UN offices were under attacks.

The Algiers incident was the worse since 23 UN personnel were killed in Baghdad in August, 2005, when a massive bomb destroyed the office located in the Canal Hotel. The dead included the head of mission, Sergio Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian.