The 2005 Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel will enter into force on August 19, 30 days after the ratification by the United Kingdom reached the required number of states. The goal of the protocol is to provide legal protection to UN personnel and humanitarian workers delivering emergency humanitarian assistance in volatile and hostile environments.This pact extends the 1994 convention applied more narrowly to peacekeeping operations. However, the extension in each case requires a “declaration of exceptional risk,” and there are not yet any agreed upon criteria for determining such a risk.
It took five years to get enough states to sign onto the treaty, but each civilian worker death has added incentive. Last year alone 28 civilian UN staff members and at least 97 aid workers were killed. Others were wounded and abducted.
Of course it is difficult to enforcing such pacts in hostile environments, however punishments can now be applied to signatories of this agreement in trials after the fact, creating a deterrent among governments party to it. It is hoped that the pact also contains a cultural component of moral force as consciousness is raised toward treatment of noncombatants.