Background

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.

Discussion

The HLCM Chair then invited Ms. Susana Malcorra, in her capacity as Chair of the Steering Committee set up by HLCM at its inter-sessional meeting of 27 August 2008 as a mechanism to take to the implementation stage the recommendations made in the Report by the Independent Panel on Safety and Security of UN Personnel and Premises Worldwide headed by Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi (IPSS), to outline the expected process and modalities through which the Committee and its Operational Working Group would operate in view of the fall session of CEB.

There are a total of 83 recommendations that were made by the IPSS. The vast majority of the recommendations contained in the IPSS report were already explicitly or implicitly included in the March 2008 report of HLCM, which in turn built on the recommendations of the Inter-Agency Security Management Network (IASMN) at its meeting of February 2008, and which were transmitted to and endorsed by CEB at its spring session of April 2008.

The Steering Committee re-affirmed the central role that IASMN maintained for the completion of the Steering Committee’s mandate. The work of the Steering Committee was intended to raise the authority and legitimacy of the conclusions that it would reach to a level that is consistent with the urgency and complexity of the issues that must be addressed.

The overall objective of the work of the Steering Committee was to propose, through HLCM, to the Secretary-General in his capacity as the Chair, CEB, a series of actions responding to the priority of staff safety and security, to the promotion of a culture of security within the United Nations system, and to the acknowledgment of staff safety and security as an essential institutional managerial responsibility. The Secretary-General would then present the suggested actions to CEB at its meeting of 24-25 October 2008 for review and adoption. Recommendations that are for immediate action and that can be implemented without delay once adopted by CEB would be flagged within the plans.

Recognizing the complexity of its tasks and the need to address them at different levels and within different timeframes, the Steering Committee also established an Operational Working Group (OWG) under its guidance. The OWG would gather as of 24 September and would work on a full time basis, principally in New York, for a period of three to four weeks, i.e. the time that will be necessary to deliver the expected outcome for the CEB session of October 2008.

In the ensuing discussion, HLCM representatives underlined that a critical outcome of the Steering Committee’s effort should indeed be a review of the business models for the safety and security of UN system staff. Such models should be part of a single framework, avoiding a piece-meal approach, which should cover such functions as information collection and gathering, decision making, implementation and support. The framework should focus on the role, accountabilities, empowerment and resources of the Designated Official and the Country Team, as well as on the governance and structure of IASMN and DSS, also with respect to a sound balance and effective distribution of functions, roles and responsibilities to be assigned and performed at the field level versus those that are best centralized at Headquarters.

HLCM re-iterated its previously stated conviction that funding modalities for security-related requirements should be consistent with the principle that security and safety is an integral part of any programme, project or activity of the UN system organizations, and that the corresponding costs should be fully transparent, as well as clearly identifiable in their fixed versus variable nature, within an agreed risk assessment framework.

Within the parameters identified through the agreed risk assessment framework, full compliance by all relevant actors should be sought and enforced, including with respect to the responsibilities of the Host Country, those of the Member States collectively, as well as those of the international staff towards local staff. Security and safety conditionalities should correspondingly be attached to programme implementation agreements.

The UN Secretariat informed the Committee that a report to the General Assembly was being finalized on risks associated to missions mandated by the Security Council. This report called for the inclusion of a specific assessment of the physical risk that missions would face in any report to the Security Council about the preparation of these missions. This would increase the level of awareness of Member States with respect to the safety and security risks attached to the implementation of their mandates.

In light of the threats described in the briefing by DSS, the Committee underlined the need to carefully consider, on a case-by-case basis, the appropriateness of adopting common-premises solutions at the field level, as potential sources of increased risk. On a related note, there was agreement on the fact that it is equally important to ensure MOSS compliance of sub-offices and project offices.

Action

The Committee:

Endorsed the Terms of Reference of the Steering Committee, as outlined in CEB/2008/HLCM/21/Rev.1 , and the process agreed upon within such Committee to prepare the discussion and decision of CEB at its meeting of 24-25 October 2008.

Recommended that Executive Heads within respective organizations are kept up to date on the proceedings of the Steering Committee between now and the CEB meeting, so that they come well prepared to the meeting and ready to take the decisions that they will be asked to take, in order to bring to the implementation stage a series of recommendations that are essential to ensure the safety and security of UN system staff.

Commended IASMN for its professionalism in preparing and guiding the response of HLCM to the emerging needs on safety and security of staff, before the release of IPSS as well as in the implementation of the IPSS recommendations.

Requested IASMN to take action on the following issues and to report thereon to HLCM at its next session:

  • Draft the Terms of Reference of the Network, including mandate, responsibilities, composition, governance and working modalities;
  • Nominate a Vice-Chair;
  • Propose a revised name for the Network.

Recommended that Safety and Security of staff be mainstreamed at all levels of United Nations system activities, with the strategic aim of promoting security management as an integral and enabling part of policy, planning, operational and administrative consideration for United Nations programmes and activities .

Endorsed the proposal developed by DSS and ICAO with respect to Aviation Risk Management, and requested the Steering Committee led by Ms. Malcorra to recommend action on this item with immediate priority.