The Board expressed serious concern over the increasing safety and security risks faced by United Nations personnel in many parts of the world. Following the release of the report of the Independent Panel on Safety and Security of United Nations Personnel and Premises Worldwide in June 2008, the Secretary-General requested the High-level Committee on Management to undertake a detailed review of the recommendations contained in the Panel’s report and to prepare actionable recommendations and options for a more effective United Nations system-wide security management system.

The steering group for staff safety and security set up in response to the Secretary-General’s request presented its findings to CEB in April 2009. Key elements were as follows:

  • A fundamental shift in culture and mindset in the United Nations from “when to leave” to “how to stay”, working closely with host Governments and local communities both to understand risk and manage it, through a new approach to security management which includes the concept of acceptance of risk backed by a new framework for risk management and a revised security level system;
  • A greater focus placed on the safety and security of national staff;
  • Definition of the terms of reference and composition of the Executive Group on Security, chaired by the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, to facilitate the rapid decision-making capacity of the Under-Secretary-General when there is an impasse or when exigencies arise and life and limb are at stake;
  • Introduction of a new, threat-focused concept for a security level system, which also delineates the appropriate level of decision-making and oversight between Headquarters and the field;
  • Development, by December 2009, of a United Nations policy and guidelines for United Nations estate safety and security;
  • Reaffirmation of the responsibility of Member States in respect of the safety and security of United Nations staff, both as host Governments and as providers of the necessary, increased financial resources at a level that is adequate to match the new needs.

The Board endorsed the recommendations of the steering committee and released a statement on the United Nations system’s commitment to a strengthened system-wide security management system (see box 3 below).