Mandated by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly, the United Nations deploys peacekeeping and special political missions to the field in support of a particular country or region.
The Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) is the principal support structure for peacemaking and preventive diplomacy efforts. The Department provides support to numerous envoys of the Secretary-General engaged in peace talks or crisis diplomacy, while overseeing more than a dozen field-based United Nations "political missions" with mandates to help nations and regions resolve conflicts and tensions peacefully. Of these missions, regional offices covering Central Africa, West Africa and Central Asia have explicit mandates for preventive diplomacy and strengthening the capacity of states and regional actors to manage sources of tension peacefully.
There are currently 14 peacekeeping operations led by the Department of Peace Operations (DPO). UN Peacekeeping helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace. They bring unique strengths, including legitimacy, burden sharing, and an ability to deploy troops and police from around the world, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to address a range of mandates set by the UN Security Council and General Assembly.
The Department of Operational Support (DOS) oversees one support mission, the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS).
Role of the SRSG and DSRSG
The Special Representatives of the Secretary-General (SRSGs) are appointed by the Secretary-General. They report to the Secretary-General through the Under-Secretary-General of the Department overseeing the respective field mission.
The SRSGs also serve as Heads of Mission and are expected to:
- Develop a shared vision for fulfilling the mandate of the Security Council and set the strategic direction to achieve goals and objectives, including establishing the Mission’s transition/exit strategy;
- Provide good offices on behalf of the Secretary-General through political support for efforts to resolve conflict, facilitating negotiations, fostering peace and building confidence among parties;
- Provide overall leadership to the comprehensive United Nations engagement in the host country, in accordance with the principle of integration, and promote a joint vision of the United Nations’ strategic objectives; establish a framework that guides the activities of the Mission and the United Nations Country team, leverages their combined comparative advantage and ensures that all the United Nations components in the country pursue a coordinated and coherent approach in support of the Sustainable Development Goals;
- Ensure the United Nations engagement and actions within the country are guided by international human rights standards; and meet UN responsibilities as set by the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Up Front initiative;
- Provide leadership, political guidance and high-level operational direction in the execution of Mission activities;
- Pursuant to the Secretary-General’s Delegation of Authority (DoA), is responsible for the management of the Mission’s financial, physical and human resources while ensuring cost-effectiveness, as well as integrity and achieving programmatic objectives;
- Report to the Secretary-General, senior United Nations officials, the Security Council, other United Nations bodies and Member States on developments in the host country and all matters relating to the implementation of the Mission’s mandate;
- As Designated Official (DO), ensure the safety and security of staff (and dependents, if appropriate) of the United Nations and the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes in the mission area;
- Engage routinely with both local and international media based on a coherent media strategy for the Mission; speak on behalf of the United Nations in the host country;
- Promote and monitor the implementation of Security Council resolutions on Women Peace and Security and drive the integration of gender perspectives throughout operational activities, including support to increasing recruitment of women in all areas to facilitate enhanced operational impact;
- Build a mission culture of accountability, integrity and respect, and which promotes the highest standards of conduct among all members of the mission.
Reporting directly to the SRSG, the Deputy Special Representatives of the Secretary-General (DSRSGs) are responsible for providing overall vision and leadership to the strategic planning and the implementation of programmes under the DSRSG pillar. The DSRSG also acts as officer in charge in the absence of the SRSG.
In integrated mission settings, the SRSG is often supported by two DSRSGs, one of which is also hatted as the Resident Coordinator, and in humanitarian settings, as the Humanitarian Coordinator. They are therefore termed “triple-hatted” or “multi-hatted DSRSG”. To be eligible for DSRSG/RC/HC assignment, a preliminary requirement is to have passed the Resident Coordinator Assessment and be included in the Resident Coordinator pool. For more information about the Resident Coordinator function, visit United Nations Sustainable Development Group.
Ghassan Salamé, currently Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Libya (UNSMIL),
at a press interview in Al Gubya (Libya).
Photo by UN/UNSMIL
SRSGs are appointed by the Secretary-General. They report to the Secretary-General through the Head of the Department overseeing the field mission. In recognition of the highly complex nature of these mission leadership posts, the United Nations is seeking individuals with:
- A minimum of 20 years of relevant professional experience, including at least 5 years at senior and representational level, in conflict, post-conflict, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, development settings, and/or experience in governance, mediation, facilitation and/or negotiations at the national and/or international level;
- Demonstrated knowledge in reconciliation, conflict resolution, humanitarian, peacekeeping, development, human rights, rule of law and/or governance issues;
- Demonstrated leadership experience with strategic vision and proven skills in leading complex organizations, such as intergovernmental, international non-governmental or multinational private sector entities;
- A high degree of emotional intelligence, political acumen and diplomatic skills;
- Excellent communication and advocacy skills;
- Proven ability to inspire, build trust, confidence and consensus amongst stakeholders and foster partnerships at the local, national or regional level to create opportunities and promote processes to advance peace and security;
- High commitment to the values and guiding principles of the United Nations, including impeccable personal integrity, respect for and commitment to human rights and demonstrated cultural and gender sensitivity;
- Demonstrated ability to work in a multi-cultural team and establish harmonious and effective working relationships both within and outside the organization;
- Familiarity with the United Nations system, including peacekeeping, humanitarian and developments settings, as well as knowledge of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this Call for nominations, fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another United Nations official language, in particular Arabic, French, or Spanish, is an advantage given the areas of deployment of United Nations field missions.
Reporting directly to the SRSG, the Deputy Special Representatives of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) is responsible for providing overall vision and leadership to the strategic planning and the implementation of programmes under the DSRSG pillar. DSRSGs also act as officer-in-charge in the absence of the SRSG. Further information on the mandate of United Nations Peace Operations and other relevant links can be found on the right.
United Nations Leadership Framework
In April 2017 the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) adopted the United Nations Leadership Framework. The framework serves as a common foundation on which to develop current and future United Nations leadership. The framework identifies eight defining characteristics of leadership in the United Nations: it is norm-based, principled, inclusive, accountable, multi-dimensional, transformational, collaborative, and self-applied.
Leadership and Management Competencies
1. Managing for Results
The culture of the United Nations is accountable, pragmatic and action-oriented. Heads and deputy Heads of Missions (D/HoM) are responsible for developing a shared vision for fulfilling the mandate of the Security Council and set the strategic direction to achieve goals and objectives that will translate into strategic framework deliverables. They are able to adjust priorities to deliver their mandates amid changing circumstances and holding their leadership team members accountable for underperformance. Heads and deputy Heads of Mission strive for efficiency in their allocation of available budget and resources to put their leadership teams in the best position to achieve the Mission’s mandate. Leaders use a result-oriented approach and are able to mobilize partner support and resources. Incentives are created to encourage superior performance and constructive performance dialogues are used to identify obstacles to performance and how to best address them.
2. Building and nurturing teams
The culture of the United Nations is collaborative and self-applied. Heads and deputy Heads of Mission empower teams and individuals to achieve results through collaboration, problem solving, active listening, continuous feedback, and self-reflection. They encourage innovation through results oriented risk-taking. Heads and deputy Heads of Mission actively seek the input of their senior leadership team members and stakeholders. They are able to work in a multi-cultural, multi-dimensional environment, promote good morale and gender sensitivity and invest in the career development and well-being of their team.
3. Driving transformational change through co-creation
The culture of the United Nations is transformational. Heads and deputy Heads of Mission work to build networks of partners and stakeholders with shared interested and engage with them taking advantage of synergies to effectively achieve results. They have a reputation for honesty and are skilled in diplomacy with strong cultural and gender sensitivity. They are capable of gaining the confidence and respect as well as maintaining effective and productive relations with diverse parties. They establish legitimacy through impartial and transparent dealings with both the stakeholders to the conflict and the international community. The D/HoMs are able to mediate in order to attain mandated objectives. They have effective planning, change management and communication skills and demonstrate a willingness to become personally engaged. Heads and deputy Heads of Mission and their senior leadership teams pro-actively engage with internal and external stakeholders to anticipate needs and crisis, and co-devise proper interventions to address emerging needs. They operate with integrity, transparency and fairness to create an environment that encourages open dialogue, feedback and growth.
4. Thinking and leading strategically:
a. Decision making and Good offices
The culture of the United Nations is multi-dimensional. Heads and deputy Heads of Mission provide good offices on behalf of the Secretary-General through political support for efforts to resolve conflict, facilitating negotiations, fostering peace and building confidence among parties. They possess mature political judgement combined with strong analytical skills and make informed decisions through data collection and analysis, identifying opportunities and risks in complex situations and avoiding duplication with partners. However, when necessary, they are also able to make difficult and brave decisions at times when information might not be completely available. They continuously learn and identify innovative ways to connect cross-pillar knowledge and experience, facilitating information sharing and ensuring the transfer of organizational know-how.
b. Decision making in Crisis management
Heads and deputy Heads of Mission possess a mix of patience and determination and are able to provide leadership in a diverse and multi-cultural environment. They think strategically to anticipate change and manage change processes affecting their mandate, teams, communicating transparently with their senior leadership team. Even in times of crisis they maintain a calm attitude are able to take principled and practical actions to deliver on mandates, balancing administrative and operational risks and erring on the side of action to prevent and address human suffering.
5. Encouraging integrity, inclusion & respect for diversity
The culture of the United Nations is norm-based, principled and inclusive. Heads and deputy Heads of Mission defend and act in accordance with the values, regulations and rules of the United Nations, and the International Civil Service standards. They are able to uphold the independence and integrity of the Mission as an entity of the United Nations. Discrimination in all its forms is uncovered and addressed, Heads and deputy Heads of Mission identify gender bias and other roadblocks to inclusion, working to remove them, and role modelling for staff to set high professional standards of work and conduct and practice cultural and gender sensitivity. They embrace the creation of a diverse workforce as a strength and effectively work with stakeholders from all backgrounds.