Background

The Secretary-General’s Policy Committee convened on 9 April 2012 to discuss duty of care of the UN system in cases of malicious acts and natural disasters, and mandated the CEB Secretariat to carry out a stocktaking exercise, building on experiences across the UN system and drawing on feedback from survivors to: identify best practices, gap and problem areas; clarify scope; and identify and explore differences in eligibility and coverage for different categories of personnel (staff and non-staff, international and local).

At its June 2012 session, the HR Network agreed to build on a previous mapping exercise on insurance coverage conducted by the CEB Secretariat in 2010. In addition, a questionnaire survey was launched by the CEB Secretariat to obtain information on the current medical support, staff counseling services and administrative/ insurance coverage.

The findings of the CEB stock-taking exercise, as outlined in document CEB/2012/HLCM/17, can be summarized as follows:

* Organizations with a large field presence provide more support to staff in the areas of staff counseling, medical services and insurance coverage;
* More support services are made available to staff than to non-staff personnel;
* Good coverage is provided through the Malicious Act Insurance Policy (MAIP).

The results from the survey also include tables summarizing the insurance coverage of internationally recruited, locally-recruited and non-staff personnel by organization, as well as coverage gaps by organization and by type of personnel. Some best practices are also highlighted, including the system-wide coordination mechanisms through UNDSS, UNMERT and CISMU and a recent joint RFP for a commercial insurance policy for consultants by three organizations (UNICEF, UNDP and UNOPS).

Discussion

The HLCM Secretary and the Co-Chair of the HR Network explained that the identified gaps and best practices would serve to develop recommendations for the CEB and to guide stakeholders in identifying next steps.

In a first positive development since the survey was finalized, UNDP indicated its intention to accept the leadership of the HR Rapid Response Team - endorsed in earlier HLCM sessions - once an analysis of the requirements and timelines would be completed. In this regard, the UN Secretariat indicated its readiness to share with UNDP its experience with the Emergency Preparedness and Support Team (EPST).

In recognition of the multi-disciplinary nature of the issue, the questionnaire covered three main areas: staff counselling, medical support and administrative/ insurance-related issues. Also, the analysis of the results differentiated between HQ-based organization and organizations with a large field presence (qualified as at least 200 personnel).

Findings in the area of staff counseling after a crisis situation showed that access to counseling is broader in organizations with a large field presence (13 out of 15 organizations), which are also more likely to have full-time staff counselors.
Seconding the Secretary General’s strong wish to promote a culture of compassion and understanding, as well as to de-stigmatize mental health issues, the survey tried to analyse to what extent dedicated training efforts are undertaken in support of such an organizational culture. Results showed that most organizations offer more general training, for example to enhance communication skills, to better manage interpersonal relations, etc. Organizations with a large field presence provide more training in this area than HQ-based organizations. In general, organizations and their HR offices try to develop ad-hoc solutions together with affected staff members.

In the area of insurance, broad differences were identified between international staff, local staff and non-staff personnel in terms of coverage and compensation in similar events.

In the following discussion the staff federations, while recognizing the possible financial implications of some measures, noted that harmonization was needed in this area and that at least a standard minimum coverage should be put in place. They also requested a better balance in the coverage for staff and non-staff. The need for long term follow-up was also noted and the example of survivors from the Abuja bombing still having to deal
with the traumatic aftermath of that event was cited. In that regard, the CEB stock-taking was praised for making reference to these aspects.

The Committee re-affirmed the importance of this subject, in that it touched the lives of people and the trauma that families have suffered. The Secretary General’s commitment to make progress in this area was acknowledged, as well as the need to take financial implications into consideration when developing proposals.

Some members noted the rationale and acceptability of business models that provide for differences between staff and non-staff, also in terms of entitlements and insurance coverage, without of course taking away the need for a minimum package.

The Committee recognized that this was a challenging topic but encouraged organizations to build on the momentum created by the Policy Committee and to capitalize on the in-depth data and information made available by the stock-taking exercise to develop adequate responses, which should be supported by a financial analysis. Document CEB/2012/HLCM/17 was deemed a useful tool to identify areas in need for improvement and to indicate the direction for continued work, mainly but not exclusively through the Human Resources Network.

HLCM also noted that UNOPS, UNDP and UNICEF were working together to develop a more
comprehensive and economically sound commercial insurance for non-staff personnel, which could represent one – replicable and extendable - model forward to reduce costs and enhancing benefits.

Action

Took note with appreciation of the stock-taking exercise completed by the CEB Secretariat;

Requested that organizations with coverage gaps as identified in Annex 2 of CEB/2012/HLCM/17, in particular in cases of non-malicious acts, consider taking appropriate action to fill such gaps;

Asked the Procurement Network and/or Insurance Units of member organizations to consider broadening joint procurement of commercial insurance policies, in particular and to the extent possible, for nonstaff personnel;

Requested that organizations undertake a review of the time needed for processing insurance claims and entitlements, identify bottlenecks and report back on findings;

Asked the Human Resources Network to continue to explore further modalities to improve support to staff and their families, and to discuss this subject as a standing item on the Network agenda;

Requested the CEB Secretariat to prepare a summary of the main finding and related gaps and recommendations for submission to the CEB at its upcoming 2012 second regular session