Background

As is customary, the Committee received a briefing by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security on the general security environment within which the staff of the United Nations System were currently operating and on the nature and relevance of emerging threats, following the tragic bombing of the UN offices in Algiers.

Discussion

The Under-Secretary-General explained that, in the wake of the attack in Algiers, the Secretary-General had appointed Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi to chair an Independent Panel on Staff Safety and Security. In the meantime, there was an urgency for the UN to continue to take action to strengthen security for all UN staff and premises. At the request of the Secretary-General, UNDSS had therefore completed a preliminary analysis of the attack on the Algiers premises. This analysis was carried out through an extensive consultation process with a large number of agencies, through agency security focal points in the Inter-Agency Security Management Network (IASMN), as well as through meetings the USG held with 23 Designated Officials in the Middle East and Africa and with Ministries of Interior in the same regions.

The results of such work were detailed in a report submitted to the Secretary-General in January, which was subsequently considered by the Policy Committee, and which included two main recommendations: 1) the absolute necessity to determine the truth on the modalities with which the attack had been carried out and the precise responsibilities behind it; and 2) the need to proceed with a deep re-thinking of the strategic framework and the practical means to ensure the security and safety of all UN system staff.

Following the meeting of the Policy Committee, the Secretary-General had formally requested that HLCM and IASMN develop recommendations for CEB to consider at its session in late April on a number of operational security issues.

The extensive discussion by HLCM on this matter was preceded by a presentation by Mr. Igor Mitrokhin (Chief, Threat and Risk Unit, DSS) on “Threats Facing the United Nations system in the aftermath of the Algiers Bombing”, and by a briefing by the Chair of IASMN on the conclusions of the Network meeting of Washington D.C. of 26-28 February 2008.

In the discussion on paragraphs 25-26 of IASMN report CEB/2008/HLCM/3 regarding the applicability of the UN Security Management System to “Headquarters” versus “Field” locations, it was underlined that, while the same paradigm would need to apply to both, it remained important to recognize the difference of kind, not only of degree, as regards security operations at “Headquarters” and “Field” locations. It was also suggested that IASMN’s purview should be limited to the “Field” locations.

Action

The conclusions, action points and recommendations for CEB by HLCM, as developed by the Committee based on a careful review of the IASMN report and on the discussion that followed, are detailed in Annex II.  Such conclusions would be transmitted to the Secretary-General and to the Independent Panel on Staff Safety and Security as the HLCM’s response to the Secretary-General’s memo to Ms. Obaid and Mr. Veness of 22 February 2008 on “Operational Security Issues for consideration by CEB, HLCM and IASMN”.

The nature and scope of all such recommendations would be subject to review depending on the outcome of the Independent Panel on Staff Safety and Security led by Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, including those in connection with staffing requirements. HLCM would hold an inter-sessional meeting soon after the Brahimi report is released to discuss its content and follow-up action.

The implementation of HLCM’s recommendations would take into account the individual governance structures of HLCM member organizations.

With respect to paragraph 38, CEB/2008/HLCM/5, concerning the variety of existing contracts between organizations of the United Nations system and a private emergency medical service provider, the Committee requested its Procurement Network, in consultation with the Chair of IASMN, to review the issue and recommend action.

Recognizing that chairmanship of IASMN requires considerable secretariat support, which only UNDSS is in a position to adequately ensure, the Committee recommended that, following internal consultations, IASMN nominate a member organization to act as a Co-Chair. The role of Co-Chair would be rotating among Network members.