Background

Security and safety of staff is a standing item on the agenda of the Committee. The Under-Secretary General for Safety and Security briefed the Committee on the status of the implementation of the new security management arrangements and his vision for ensuring the security and safety of staff in light of current and projected threats. Ensuring the safety and security of all staff was an increasingly complex challenge in view of the trends, which ranged from an increase in attacks on UN personnel as well as threats to safety, such as kidnappings, air transport and motor vehicle accidents, fires and disease. The Committee was reminded that some terror groups continued to regard UN personnel and premises as legitimate targets.

The Department of Safety and Security, put in place thirteen months earlier, seeks to be in the vanguard of superior security service delivery to all entities of the United Nations system.  Nearly six hundred additional security personnel had been recruited and reinforcement of field operations was expected to be completed by April.  The profile of security personnel was evolving in line with best practices of the major security organizations in the world.  Greater cultural and linguistic diversity amongst security personnel was also being sought.  Training was being dramatically enhanced - the first basic CD ROM- based training programme was well established and mandatory for all staff, while a more advanced package was under development.  In light of the trends, staff training must more clearly encompass safety issues as well as security.

The operational security chain was being strengthened by making more direct use of Designated Officials, who were best placed to leverage the primary role of host countries for the security of UN personnel.  The USG considered that the key to operational effectiveness in security was simplicity, directness of reporting and working more closely with all levels of host countries’ governments from head of state to ministries of interior and key leaders in the local security environments. Partnerships with NGOs were also being strengthened.  For the future, organizations must provide for security arrangements and budgetary requirements at the earliest stage of programme planning to ensure they were more closely calibrated to local needs.

On the issue of cost-sharing arrangements for field-related security costs, the Committee was informed that there appeared to be little opportunity to present a viable case for a different budgetary approach for consideration by the General Assembly before the current expanded security arrangements were evaluated in approximately five years’ time.  None the less, several members called on DSS to take leadership in developing a strategy to put the issue back on the agenda.

Finally, other areas under consideration to strengthen the security management system included:

  • Creation of a UN Safety Council for the purpose of promoting good practice;
  • Consideration of a second generation of MOSS and MORSS;
  • Further development of insurances;
  • Initiatives to better provide for the safety and security of locally-recruited staff such as in situations of poor sewage, lack of electricity and local fire services, etc;
  • Expansion of stress counseling capacities.

 

Discussion

No detailed record of the discussion on this topic was recorded.

Action

The Committee:

  • Thanked Mr. Veness for his presentation and expressed its appreciation for the role played by the IASMN in support of DSS’s mandate;
  • Reaffirmed the importance of the unity of the security management system encompassing all organizations of the United Nations system, including meeting financial commitments, so as to ensure the system’s operational effectiveness;
  • Expressed the hope that the outstanding issue concerning the accountability framework would soon be resolved;
  • Welcomed the increased transparency regarding security-related expenditures and looked forward to receiving an implementation report on results achieved in addition to expenditure for each result of cost-shared field  related security arrangements for the biennium 2004-2005 at the forthcoming meeting of the IASMN;
  • Requested a revised programme of work and budget for 2006-2007, focused on results achieved as related to planned results;
  • Reiterated the need for robust and timely inter-agency consultations for the development of the cost-shared portion of security arrangements for the biennium 2008-2009, with a clear results-based focus, in line with modern management approaches and wider reforms within the UN system.