15 APRIL 2011


According to the Aviation Safety Network (ASN), since 1961 there have been 23 plane crashes involving an aircraft where the U.N. was listed as the operator. The ASN database, which does not include helicopter accidents, reports that there were 128 fatalities from these 23 accidents. According to the database, the 4 April 2011 accident in Kinshasa resulted in the highest number of fatalities (32), followed by the 12 November 1999 crash near Mitrovica, Kosovo, which killed 24.

In the wake of possibly the worst airplane accident involving the United Nations as an operator, the Staff Union and its Standing Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service are particularly concerned about the disclaimers on the Movement of Personnel (MoP) form, which staff members sign before they board the air equipment operated by, or on behalf of the United Nations. Among other considerations, staff members are asked to "acknowledge that the operating conditions and facilities for the flight may not meet ICAO or other international or national standards, which could pose special risks for the flight." Staff members are further asked to "assume all risks and liabilities during such travel arising out of the conditions under which the flight is operated...and recognize that the United Nations shall not be held responsible for any loss, damage, injury or death that I may sustain due to such conditions."

The Committee called for an immediate review of these disclaimers in the wake of this latest fatal incident. Safety requirements should be the foremost concern when contracting aircraft for peacekeeping missions. The Committee calls further for a thorough investigation of all aircraft equipment operated by or on behalf of the United Nations to ensure that their operating conditions and facilities meet ICAO or other international or national standards, as well as whether United Nations policies related to air safety are adequate or sufficiently monitored.

The outcome of the investigation should be made public, for the families and colleagues of the victims have a right to know the cause of these accidents and if adequate air safety standards were met. The Committee and the Staff Union expressed their deep condolences to the families of the victims.