Tailored Security Solutions

Staying ahead

UNDSS delivers specialized safety and security services

Whether it is physical security, threat analysis or close protection, UNDSS is developing the necessary expertise to stay ahead of the fast-paced changes in the security environment.

Infographic mapping the DHSSS locations.

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DHSSS: a new security paradigm

Once created, the Division of Headquarters Security and Safety Services (DHSSS) brought the various Security and Safety Service (SSS) locations together under its management and, in doing so, established a new security paradigm that revised the mandate and functions of the services.

DHSSS is responsible for the strategic management of safety and security operations at the SSS locations and providing primary operational and technical support.

It encompasses the Security and Safety Services at the 11 major duty stations, comprising of more than 1,400 security officers.

Altogether, these services provide security for more than 36,000 personnel, 58,000 dependents and over 3 million visitors annually, including more than 1,000 VIPs (Heads of State and Government).


The mandate of the Division is (according to ST/SGB/2013/5):

  • To provide strategic management, operational guidance and overall technical supervision of the Security and Safety Services located in New York, Offices away from Headquarters, regional commissions and international tribunals.
  • To manage the growing demand for personal protection details in a systematic and coordinated manner; to coordinate provision of security arrangements and specialized security support to major external events and conferences; to provide specialized assistance to the UNSMS on the assessment and implementation of physical security measures.

We offer tailored Security Solutions

An aeroplane in mid-flight in a blue sky.

©UN Photo


Aviation is critical to the continuity and safe delivery of UN programmes. UNDSS provides UN organizations and their staff with policy, guidance and information on global commercial air operators. UNDSS ensures quality, evidence-based information is available to the global UN System to enable decision-making for the suitability of air operators for use in official UN travel.

The work of UNDSS enables the conduct of global UN activities. By providing confidence that air operators have been assessed for safety, UN staff (beneficiaries of our work) can focus their attention on critical humanitarian, development and peacekeeping duties - wherever in the world they are located or may travel.

UN Secretary-General walks in an airport runway surrounded by security officers among others.

©UN Photo/Fardin Waezi

Protective services

Protective Services may be required as a mitigation measure to support the activities of Senior United Nations Officials (SUNO) in the course of their duties, who may be subject to increased threat and associated risk due to their role or implementation of specific mandates and programmes.

UNDSS is responsible for the setting of standards and coordination of Protective Security Services throughout the United Nations Security Management System (UNSMS) with Protective Services personnel operating across the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), Department of Peace Operations (DPO) and Security and Safety Services (SSS) missions and locations.

UN security officers tend to a fire with a red UN firetruck in view.

©UN Photo

Fire safety & hazmat

The United Nations Security Management System (UNSMS) has established basic fire prevention principles and guidance on preparation and response in order to minimize the risk from fire to personnel, assets and operations. The Designated Official for security in each UN field location is responsible for ensuring the establishment, implementation and annual review of all fire safety plans within his/her area of responsibility.

Evaluation & compliance

In order to meet an ever-growing demand for evaluation, UNDSS leads and conducts security programme evaluations, thematic evaluations and policy evaluations across the United Nations Security Management System (UNSMS). This is done to assess the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of security arrangements and programmes in a systematic and objective way.

UNDSS also coordinates and maintains the Department’s system of lessons learned and knowledge sharing. Knowledge gained from operational experiences is captured, analysed and shared across the UNSMS with the aim to build institutional memory and ensure continuity of programmes. Knowledge-generating activities help stakeholders at different levels understand the relevance of activities involved in achievements, thus improving collaboration and co-ordination.

UNDSS supports the implementation of the Department’s Compliance Strategy, which aims to ensure the implementation of, and compliance with, security policy, procedures and guidelines of the UNSMS.

Communications centre

The Communication Centre (ComsCen) maintains round-the-clock emergency communications at UN Headquarters with field duty stations on security matters. It dispatches official correspondence and monitors open media sources to provide timely alerts on evolving security developments that may impact the safety and security of UN personnel worldwide. The ComsCen is located within the UN Operations & Crisis Centre at UN HQ and works closely with the United Nations Operations and Crisis Centre (UNOCC).

Threat analysis

UNDSS provides threat analysis expertise to the United Nations Security Management System (UNSMS). It undertakes security threat information analysis in support of the SRM framework such as Threat Assessments, Threat Profiles, Security Threat Information (STI) Alerts and Notices, Topic Assessments, Threat Advisories and Warnings and Personal Security Risk Assessments (PSRAs). In addition, UNDSS provides threat assessment briefings to senior UN management and security decision makers.

Crisis response

When a security-related crisis occurs, UNDSS leads and coordinates a crisis response and other emergency operational support, including 24/7 communications and monitoring, surge response, deployment of critical incident stress counsellors and support to the United Nations Operations and Crisis Centre (UNOCC).

A car is stuck on the road with smoke all around it.

©UN Photo

Physical security

The UN occupies premises all over the world, often in dangerous and high-risk locations. With direct attacks against UN premises on the rise, our Physical Security Unit (PSU) provides expert advice on physical security of UN offices to UNDSS security officials in the field, including premises’ assessments, technical specifications, blast vulnerability assessments, post-blast analysis and training in Physical Security.

The assessments and technical advice provided by PSU follows international standards and codes in order to provide the best advice necessary for each premises, according with the Security Risk Management requirements in the Area.

UN security officer overseeing the UN General Assembly hall.

©UN Photo

Special events security

We support security services at UN special events and conferences around the world to strengthen security arrangements.

In 2019 and 2020, UNDSS advised on and coordinated security support for 235 events organized by 36 UN Organizations in coordination with respective host governments in 101 countries. There were 381 UN Security personnel deployed to these events, including 18 major events attended by thousands of participants and high-level officials.

Two security officers are leaning against a wall in a dark interior, one of them holds a gun.

©UN Photo/Martine Perret

Hostage incident management

As the organisations of the United Nations Security Management System (UNSMS) are increasingly called upon to operate in insecure areas, the UNSMS has developed a comprehensive policy, guidelines and training for managing hostage incidents.

The policy stipulates that the Organisation will not pay ransoms or make any substantial concessions to hostage-takers, nor shall it intervene with Member States concerned to make exchanges for hostages. Ransom or other concessions for the release of a hostage encourages potential hostage-takers and thus increases the danger that other personnel might face in the future.

A female security officer looks for explosives under vehicles with a long mirror


Explosive detection

In order to provide the highest level of security for the personnel, delegates and visitors of the United Nations, UNDSS conducts a wide range of special operations and explosive detection.

The K-9 Units have proved to be of great support in the identification, prevention and response to threats on the United Nations premises. K-9 units are currently in operation in seven locations - New York, Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna, Addis-Ababa, Santiago and Beirut. The main services provided by the K-9 units include, but are not limited to, vehicle searching, bomb sweeps of the premises and mail screening.