Protecting the United Nations for over 70 years
For the first half-century of its existence, the United Nations felt protected by its flag and the reality that it was a neutral, benevolent actor in world events. If United Nations personnel were directly targeted, it was generally viewed as an isolated event.
In the early 1990s, the security environment for the United Nations changed and became more threatening. There was a rise in the number of deaths and injuries to personnel as a result of malicious acts. The mandate of the United Nations also evolved, resulting in a larger number of United Nations personnel, notably from humanitarian agencies, being deployed on potentially hazardous missions.
At the same time, peacekeeping missions were being established in areas at war or in situations of high risk. Increasingly, humanitarian personnel were being deployed alongside peacekeeping military units in integrated multidisciplinary missions.
Ahtisaari Panel UNDSS Integration
An evolving security management system
The Ahtisaari Panel
UNDSS is born
The journey to integration
Prior to 2005, security services to UN Secretariat personnel and operations were provided by several entities: the United Nations Security Coordinator’s Office (UNSECOORD), the Security and Safety Service (SSS) and the security elements within peacekeeping and special political missions. These are known as the security sections of a mission.
The establishment of UNDSS in 2005 also united UNSECOORD and SSS. However, the security elements of peacekeeping and special political missions remained separate, despite continuing to face similar challenges while operating in identical environments with limited security resources. While these entities coordinated and cooperated on security issues to a great extent, there continued to be areas of overlap, duplication, inefficiency and confusion.
The United Nations Secretariat has since turned its focus to the more effective use of security personnel, namely through the integration of UNDSS and field mission security personnel. UNDSS has taken action to integrate these various security service elements, through the United Nations Secretariat Safety and Security Integration Project (UNSSSIP). The project addresses the management, human resources and financial challenges of integration, and aims to achieve maximum security service delivery effectiveness through better coordination of the Secretariat’s existing security workforce and resources.
End state of the project
The desired end state of the project is to enable UNDSS, as one Secretariat department, to effectively provide:
- Professional safety and security services required to enable the delivery of UN programmes and activities globally in the current and evolving environments;
- Leadership, management and coordination for safety and security resources;
- A professional, mobile flexible and global workforce with the requisite knowledge, skills and experience.
In pursuit of this goal, the Secretary-General conferred on UNDSS in December 2016, a range of authorities required to implement the integration, including management, human resources and financial arrangements. Meanwhile, UNDSS continues to work closely with the relevant departments to achieve the project’s desired end state.