Background

The Chair gave the floor to the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Safety and Security, for a briefing on the general security environment within which the staff of the United Nations System are currently operating, as well as on the recent accomplishments and the future challenges facing the UN Department for Safety and Security.

Among the accomplishments, DSS listed the significant progress in the staffing of the Department; the introduction of advanced training for all UN staff in “phase” locations; the strengthening of a valuable alliance with the UN System Staff College to ensure that security was included at the earliest stage of country programme planning; increased engagement with host countries; and support to Designated Officials.

Some critical challenges still remained: maintaining momentum and achieving balanced focus on staff security; resolving the significant gaps in service provision (safety, crisis management and emergency reinforcement); and addressing the need for greater engagement with member states.

DSS informed the Committee that a de-brief regarding the Canal Hotel bombing was being prepared for the surviving victims, as well as for the families of the victims, who would be the first to receive it.

A significant growth in demand for security services was predictable, namely in the Middle East, East and North Africa, as well as for expanded operations in Afghanistan and for possible developments in Somalia, Sudan, Chad and the Central Africa Republic.

Discussion

DSS thanked the Technical Working Group, IASMN members and HLCM for their continued and important support for UN security development.

The Committee then considered a report (CEB/2007/HLCM/5) by the Technical Working Group on Cost-sharing arrangements for the UN Security Management System, which was established by the HLCM at its videoconference meeting of 22 November 2006, to review the current cost-sharing formula pertaining to the UN SMS, with a view to ensuring that it is fair, transparent and based on objective parameters.

The HLCM Chair commended the Working Group and its Chair for completing its work within very strict deadlines.

The report of the Working Group, as outlined by its Chair, included some recommendations on the function, value and funding mechanisms of the Security Management System, as well as a proposal for two alternative options to apportion UNDSS HQ Field-related costs for 2008-2009 (15% of total costs).

The World Bank recalled the history of its participation in the UN SMS, and stressed the fact that most of the security and safety services the Bank benefited from were paid out of its own budget, with limited value from the UN SMS itself.

Nevertheless, the Bank re-affirmed its continuing support for the UN SMS and thanked the Committee for its efforts to find an agreement on the cost-sharing arrangements. In doing so, the Bank presented a third, alternative option to the two already outlined in the report of the Working Group for the apportionment UNDSS HQ Field-related costs. This option called for a review of the work of the UNDSS Division of Regional Operations, with a view to ascertaining the percentage of time spent on providing direct operational support by Headquarters to field offices.  In so doing, reference was made to paragraphs 32 and 33 of the Secretary-General's report A/56/469 that set out the principles for the cost-sharing arrangements for the UN Security Management System.

Some organizations underscored that the UNDSS performance for 2006 indicated considerable unspent balances over the biennium 2006-2007, due mainly to delay in the filling of vacant posts (for FSOs). It was stressed that any unspent funds within the 2006-2007 budget should be used only for the purposes already approved by IASMN and HLCM in accordance with the UNDSS original working plan, with the balance returned to organizations at the end of the biennium.

Action

After intense discussion, the Committee decided to endorse the recommendations contained in paragraphs 6 a), b), c), e) and g) of CEB/2007/HLCM/5, with some minor modifications, as follows:

  • 6a) The HLCM reaffirms that security is a necessary cost that needs to be funded in a sustainable manner and this cost should be  regularly reviewed by the Committee  to ensure that  the essential aspects of security are not minimized and that an adequate level of security continues to be provided to UN staff;
  • 6b) The census be replaced by headcounts provided by respective Agency HQs, based on the most accurate information available as of the end of the calendar year preceding the budget submittal for the following biennium, excluding staff on travel or mission less than three months and following the other criteria set out in paragraphs 17 and 20 of CEB/2007/HLCM/5;
  • 6c) UNDSS Field costs for 2008-2009 (85% of total costs) be apportioned by headcount, i.e. on the basis of the percentage of actual staff in the Field;
  • 6e) Implementation of the agreed changes be applied in a uniform manner to all participants of the Security Management System;
  • 6g) The HLCM decides to move forward with a more comprehensive, all encompassing project to address significant issues remaining outside the mandate of the current review of the cost-sharing formula (including alternate sources of funding and mainstreaming) for the 2010-2011 biennium.

The Committee agreed that Option 2 (Equal distribution by Agency) for the UNDSS HQ portion of Field-related costs was not a feasible one, and decided to allow for some limited additional time for bilateral discussions between UN/DSS (supported by the UN/DM) and the World Bank to find an agreement on the apportionment of UNDSS HQ portion of Field-related costs, within the parameters already established by the HLCM and the definition of “direct operational support by Headquarters to field offices” endorsed by the General Assembly, with a view to bringing to conclusions such discussions at the forthcoming CEB meeting of 20-21 April 2007.