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Security Council Adopts Resolution on Protecting UN Workers

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution today, Tuesday, on the protection of U.N. humanitarian workers. The council approved the measure one week after at least 23 people, many of them U.N. workers, were killed in a truck bomb at the U.N.'s Baghdad headquarters. The resolution calls on the international community to take steps to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian workers. It also urges nations not to allow crimes committed against U.N. and associated personnel to go unpunished.

Mexico first circulation the draft resolution in April, co-sponsored by Bulgaria, France, Germany, Russia and Syria. But council members moved to bring the measure to a vote after last week's deadly terrorist attack in Baghdad.

Prior to the vote, Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the council to unanimously adopt the resolution. "Last week's vicious attack on our headquarters in Baghdad, with all its tragic consequences has brought this vital issue to the forefront of our priorities," he said. "It shows us what we must expect if we allow the impression to continue gaining ground that international workers are a soft, cost-free target."

After the council adopted the resolution, Mr. Annan said the United Nations is continuing to review its security measures and is tightening security to protect its workers worldwide. At the same time, he said that governments must bring the perpetrators of attacks on humanitarian personnel to justice

"What is more important is that it is followed through with action. Action to prosecute those who attack humanitarian workers, either to make a political point for military gain or to intimidate," he said.

The 15-member council approved the measure unanimously after closed-door negotiations on the language of the text. The United States objected to a reference to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In order to reach a consensus and to send a strong message, Mexico's Ambassador, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser said the sponsors agreed to remove the reference to the ICC. But he says the final resolution makes a powerful statement. It points out that attacks against humanitarian workers are prohibited by international law and constitute war crimes.