Background

The Committee was informed that the 5th annual meeting of the UN Security and Safety Services Network (UNSSSNET) had been held the previous week at Interpol headquarters in Lyon (France).  The key agenda item was the presentation of the Headquarters Minimum Operating Security Standards (H-MOSS) for UN system-wide acceptance.  H-MOSS was established by the Secretariat entities in December 2003.  In addition to defining standards for the physical security of headquarters complexes, access control, training, weaponry and so forth, H-MOSS also contained a new profile for security officers that would be more closely aligned with national uniformed services.  However, a great deal of consultations with various parties, such as staff representatives and the UNJSPF, would be required before the new profile of security officers could be introduced.  OHRM of the UN Secretariat would take the lead on this matter.

In Interpol’s assessment, the UN system was among international organizations most vulnerable to terrorist attack. The participants of UNSSSNET had agreed that H-MOSS should be applied to all UN system headquarters locations.  As the Bretton Woods Institutions were not present at the last UNSSSNET meeting, they would be consulted bilaterally. In a previous meeting of UNSSSNET, participants had already agreed on the format of a global UN identity card/building pass and the basic technology for a global access control system. The new system to be implemented by the UN Secretariat would constitute a model for such a system. The system will be sufficiently flexible to accommodate legacy systems as well as incremental enhancements as required by individual organizations.

UNSSSNET also concluded that it would be useful for the CEB to issue another policy statement on security to demonstrate commitment at the highest level to staff security. A draft policy statement would be presented to the HLCM/CEB secretariat in due course.

Discussion

The Committee was concerned about the definition of “headquarters” within H-MOSS and raised a number of issues relating to the funding required to bring organizations up to H-MOSS standards.  There was recognition that organizations housed in the same location should coordinate on the matter.  Experience in some organizations had shown that involvement of local security authorities was a fundamental requirement, particularly in the areas of vulnerability, threat and risk assessment; some national authorities had agreed to partial funding of security improvements in UN facilities.  Of particular concern was the need to avoid the creation of “soft” targets whereby some organizations improve security and others did not.  UNSSSNET was of the opinion that a system-wide acceptance of H-MOSS would constitute a powerful basis for additional funding to enhance security. They had noted that security was not always considered as a core activity and did not receive adequate funding. While H-MOSS sets minimum standards, it also provides for alternative mitigating measures in the event of it not being possible to fully implement the established standards but this must be documented.  H-MOSS will be submitted to expert groups outside the UN for validation.

It was noted that in light of the many initiatives being undertaken under the auspices of UNSSSNET, it had been proposed that a permanent secretariat for UNSSSNET be established.  This proposal was being studied and would in due course be presented to HLCM.  Some HLCM members expressed concern regarding the relationship, and possible overlap, between the work of UNSSSNET and UNSECOORD and underlined the need for more consistency and integration in the work of the two groups.

Action

The Committee:

  • Stated its interest in working collectively to produce basic security standards for all UN staff and facilities whilst maintaining some levels of flexibility to accommodate local conditions with the aim of greater centralization of security management in the UN system, particularly with a view of providing clarity of where individual responsibilities lie and also requested clarification on the definition of “headquarters”;
  • Noted the intention of UNSS to prepare a draft security policy statement for submission to the CEB;
  • Agreed that, although security spending was a critical issue, the planned budget increases for spending by UNSECOORD could not be met from cost-sharing methods and must, therefore, be a priority item in the UN budget to be put before the General Assembly.