Header image for news printout

Launch of Road Safety Strategy for UN System and its personnel - Executive Board Room, World Health Organization

Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

28 February 2019, 11:00

Friends and colleagues, 

I’m delighted to join my counterparts from other UN organisations in supporting this new Partnership for Safer Journeys.

The road safety strategy that has been created is intensely practical and deliverable, and is a great example of teamwork between UN agencies. But its success will depend on our full commitment. This means being signed up to it at all levels – from policy-makers to the personnel travelling in some of the most remote and dangerous corners of the planet. 

I unreservedly commit my Office to working to fulfil every one of the five pillars set out in this strategy: Road safety management, safer fleets, safer road users, post-crash response and creating safer driving environments. We will not succeed in reducing the toll of deaths and injuries for our staff if we focus our efforts on only one or two of these areas.

I also want to emphasise that road safety is itself a human rights question. The people most at risk of death or injury on the roads are those who are already vulnerable in other ways – such as children, people with reduced mobility or disabilities, and older people.  Where people live can also make the difference between life and death. Road infrastructure, emergency response times, and access to appropriate health may all be worse in deprived areas or for people living in poverty.

States are obliged to take all reasonable steps to protect the right to life, personal security, health and development. People’s enjoyment of all these rights can be directly enhanced by States’ policies on road safety. Road safety is also an important part of the 2030 Agenda, with a specific target to halve the number of global deaths and injuries by 2020. This target is not currently on course to be met.

So the leadership of the UN on this issue can be important not just in its own right, in terms of putting our own house in order, but for the wider human rights and development agendas. As global leaders in standard-setting and consensus-building, we are setting an example for others to follow.

I hope this strategy will do more than cut the toll of death and injury for UN staff, but can be seen as a template and a form of leadership that will deliver real change.

Thank you.