Global Programme on the Protection of Vulnerable Targets

The main goal of the programme is to contribute to the development of cooperative approaches involving both international cooperation and public-private partnerships to strengthen the security of Member States, and particularly the protection of vulnerable targets from terrorist attacks.

More specifically, it seeks to support Member States to enhance capacities to prevent and counter:

  • Threats against major sports events
  • Threats against religious sites and places of worship
  • Threats to urban centres and touristic venues
  • Threats associated with unmanned air systems



The UN Security Council has stressed in its Resolution 2396 (2017) the need for Member States to develop, review, or amend national threat and risk assessments to consider soft targets, to develop appropriate contingency and emergency-response plans for terrorist attacks. It also called on States to establish or strengthen national, regional and international partnerships with public and private stakeholders on the sharing of information and experience to prevent, protect, mitigate, investigate, respond to, and recover from damage from terrorist attacks against soft targets.

Furthermore, the Counter-Terrorism Committee endorsed in 2018 an Addendum to the 2015 Madrid Guiding Principles with specific recommendations as regards the protection of “soft” targets and critical infrastructures. Specifically, the additional Guiding Principle 15 stresses that Member States should, in cooperation with Member States, develop threat and risk assessments, identify soft targets in the national context, develop strategies and action plans for reducing risks, take preparedness measures and promote better interoperability in security and crisis managements. The additional Guiding Principle 16 encourages Member States to update contingency planning, put in place information sharing and risk assessment mechanisms as well as public-private partnerships, and assist with the delivery of targeted capacity development and training. UNOCT was encouraged to further enhance, in close consultation with the Committee and CTED, the provision and delivery of technical assistance to States, upon request, to better support their efforts to apply these Principles and meet the requirements set forth in Security Council resolutions.

On 12 September 2019, Secretary-General Guterres presented the United Nations Plan of Action to safeguard religious sites, developed under the lead of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.


Programme activities

UNOCT will collect and share good practices developed by Member States, regional organizations and private sector in the protection of urban centres, touristic venues, places of worship as well as the threat posed by unmanned aerial systems. UNOCT will produce a modular Addendum to the Compendium of Good Practices on the protection of Critical Infrastructures developed by UNOCT and CTED in 2018.

UNOCT will provide tailored operational assistance to Member States through:

  • Assistance to develop collaborative approaches and national strategies, including public-private partnerships
  • Technical training courses on operational risk assessment, crisis management and response
  • Mentoring services to support competent authorities


Programme details

Project title: Global Programme on the Protection of Vulnerable Targets
Project start date: 2020
Implementation partner (s): United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism in cooperation with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the United Nations Interregional Criminal Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). The programme is to be implemented also in close consultation with other relevant organizations, including INTERPOL.
Beneficiary (s): law enforcement, police and other security forces; tourism and transport authorities; communities, religious leaders, public and private companies involved in public services and managing public places

UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

The UN General Assembly adopted by consensus the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy on 8 September 2006. The strategy is a unique global instrument to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism. The General Assembly reviews the Strategy every two years, making it a living document attuned to Member States’ counter-terrorism priorities.


Graphic of the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites
Graphic of the Compendium of Good Practices on the protection of Critical Infrastructures