How we work


The primary responsibility for the security of UN personnel rests with the Host Governments in their normal and inherent function of maintaining law and order.  As an employer, the UN has the duty to reinforce the capacity of the Host Government to fullfill these obligations under the UNSMS. UNDSS oversees the UNSMS. All UN agencies, funds and programmes are part of the UNSMS and grouped under the IASMN (the Inter-Agency Security Management Network). The IASMN falls under the auspices of the High Level Committee on Management (HLCM), one of the three pillars of the Chief Executives Board (CEB) that also includes the High Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) and the United Nations Development Group (UNDG). All security policies are first reviewed by the IASMN, then presented to the HLCM and CEB. All security policy requires approval from the HLCM and in some instances the CEB.  The structure of UNSMS is well defined as are the responsibilities and role of each official which is listed in a document called “the framework of accountability”.  The key actors of the UNSMS :

Who does what?

The structure of UNSMS is well defined as are the responsibilities and role of each official which is listed in a document called “the framework of accountability”. The key actors of the UNSMS :

The United Nations Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Safety and Security:

The United Nations Under-Secretary General for Safety and Security is responsible for the executive direction and oversight of the United Nations Security Management System (UNSMS) and reports directly to the Secretary-General. Since July 2014, Peter Drennan from Australia has been the Under-Secretary-General of the Department.

Executive Heads of Organizations

Executive Heads of Organizations are responsible and accountable to the Secretary-General for ensuring that the goals of the UNSMS are met within their respective organizations.

Security Focal Points for UN Departments and AFPs 

The Executive Head of each UN organization appoints a Security Focal Point at its headquarters for liaising with UNDSS and the agency at both HQ and field level. They keep UNDSS apprised of relevant security information; provide support to their own field offices; participate in inter-agency security assessment missions; and ensure staff compliance with system-wide security instructions.

Designated Official

In each country or designated area where the UN is present, the senior-most official is normally appointed as the Designated Official for Security. The DO is accountable to the Secretary-General, through the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, for the security of personnel employed by the organizations of the United Nations system and their recognized dependants throughout the country or designated area. The Designated Official is responsible and accountable for ensuring that the goal of the United Nations security management system is met at the duty station. There are currently 163 DOs.

Chief Security Advisor

The Chief Security Advisor (CSA) is a security professional appointed by the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security to advise the Designated Official and the Security Management Team. He/she reports to the Designated Official and maintains a technical line of communication with UNDSS

Security Management Team

The Security Management Team normally consists of the Designated Official, the head of each agency present at the duty station, and the Chief Security Advisor. The Security Management Team advises the Designated Official on all security related matters at the duty station. In peacekeeping missions, where the Head of Mission serves as the Designated Official, the Team may also include Heads of Offices or Sections.

Area Security Coordinator

In larger countries where specific areas outside the capital city are separated by not only distance but by exposure to emergencies, the DO and SMT will appoint Area Coordinators who, on behalf of the DO, will coordinate and control the security arrangements applicable to all UN personnel and their dependants within the area. Area Coordinators will have responsibilities similar to those of the DO in their respective areas and will keep the DO informed of security-related developments.

Organization Representative

These individuals (“country representatives,” “agency heads,” “heads of mission”), at the country level consult with and assist the DO on all security-related matters; ensure that the DO at all times has an updated list of staff members and eligible dependants; ensure that the DO is at all times informed of the whereabouts of the organization’s staff members and their dependants; report all incidents with security implications to the DO; and comply with all decisions of the Security Management Team.


In order to facilitate coordination of the security arrangements, information and instructions, the Designated Official in consultation with the Security Management Team will appoint Wardens and Deputy Wardens for the proper implementation of security, in particular pre-determined zones of the city. These individuals are accountable to the Designated Official/Area Security Coordinator irrespective of their employing organization.