Specialized Services

UNDSS delivers specialised safety & 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.


Commercial air travel is the main means of transportation for UN personnel and therefore the implementation of the UNSMS Air travel policy is critical to ensuring safety. The Aviation Risk Management Office (ARMO) provides advice and guidance to the UNSMS in order to enable evidence-based decision-making regarding the suitability of scheduled commercial air operators for use. ARMO works directly with over 100 UN agencies through focal points and over 200 UNDSS security professionals who advise travel units and provide confidence that air comercial operators booked and ticketed through a UN travel system have been assessed thoroughly.



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 with closely with the United Nations Operations and Crisis Centre (UNOCC)


Evaluation, Knowledge Sharing and Compliance

In order to meet an ever-growing demand for evaluation, the Compliance, Evaluation and Monitoring Section (CEMS) leads and conducts security programme evaluations, thematic evaluations and policy evaluations across the UNSMS to assess the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of security arrangements and programmes in a systematic and objective way.
CEMS also coordinates and maintains the Department’s system of lesson 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. 
CEMS 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.



Event Security
We provide security management services at the UN special events around the world, including major events that attract thousands of delegates and participants. In 2016 alone, UNDSS coordinated a total of 185 events, with over 350 uniformed officers deployed.



Fire Safety and Hazmat
The 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 safety and security in each UN field locations is responsible for ensuring the establishment, implementation and annual review of all fire safety plans within his/her area of responsibility.





Hostage Incident Management

As the organisations of the 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 nor 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.


Information and Communication Technology: Innovating with Security

The Crisis Management Information Support Section (CMISS) manages the Information and Communication technology for the UNSMS. This comprises digital systems, including an automated security clearance mechanism for the travel and information management tools that provide security-related information for the UN system personnel worldwide. CMISS enables over 10,000 security clearances to be processed each day.

CMISS information management systems are used in crisis situations to identify quickly all UN system personnel who are present in the area where a crisis occurs.  This enables the UN to fulfil its duty of care obligations.

CMISS has also developed a number of information management systems to support UNDSS and UN personnel with security responsibilities in their security related functions.  These systems provide high-level strategic information to decision-makers. CMISS is currently hard at work to leverage emerging mobile technologies.



Explosive Detection 

In order to provide the highest level of security for the personnel, delegates and visitors of the United Nations the Division of Headquarters Security and Safety Services (DHSSS) 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  include but are not limited to vehicle searching, bomb sweeps of the premises and mail screening.



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 provides expert advice on physical security of UN offices to UNDSS security officials in the field. While most UN premises are provided by the Member States, we use the Security Risk Management process to determine if additional security measures for premises are required.



Protective Security Services

In the course of their duties, Senior UN Officials (SUNOs) may be subject to increased threat and associated risk due to their higher visibility, leadership roles in the implementation of specific mandates and programmes, or prior high-level posts held.

SUNOs may face additional threats in situations where they have issued statements or undertaken actions against various threat actors, or represent positions contrary to the aims of such groups.

The Division of Headquarters Security and Safety Services (DHSSS) of UNDSS is responsible for the setting of standards and coordination of Protective Security Services throughout the UNSMS.


Management of Stress and Critical Incident Stress

The conditions under which UN personnel operate have changed drastically over the years. The number of personnel exposed to stress and critical incident stress has substantially increased. The Critical Incident Stress Management Unit was created in 2001 and is operational since 2003.

CISMU personnel are primarily responsible for stress management, resilience building and critical incident stress management. They have specific responsibilities in emergency preparedness, emergency response and hostage incident management. Furthermore, they promote and address staff psychosocial wellbeing issues in coordination with Medical Service Division, HR Officers, UN Counsellors from other UN agencies, funds and programmes and senior and line managers UN system-wide. 


Mandate of CISMU

  • Coordinating the provision and the management of stress and critical incident stress (MSCIS) UN system-wide (including crises, the death of staff members under malicious circumstances, hostage incidents, evacuations, etc.)
  • Developing, updating and coordinating  comprehensive system-wide policies and systems on the MSCIS;
  • Building staff resilience worldwide through:
  • conducting training on stress management and related field,
  • conducting needs assessment and research on factors leading to stress,
  • providing advice to managers on mitigating measures,
  • Developing relevant resources and materials for the use of staff including counsellors and managers
  • Chairing the United Nations Inter-Agency Working Group on Stress.


Threat Analysis

UNDSS provides threat analysis expertise to the UNSMS through its Threat and Risk Assessment Service. 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.


Training and Development Service

Providing UN system organizations with safety and security training programmes is a key element of UNDSS’ work. Providing high quality safety and security training helps personnel and organizations to carry out safely their work and to comply with their responsibilities. This is achieved through the assessment, design, development, delivery and evaluation of standardized UN safety and security learning programmes. 

The Service is deployed in two teams; the core team at Headquarters in New York and a regional training hub in Nairobi, Kenya (UNON). Both deliver global training programs to the UNSMS, including in partnership with agencies, funds and programmes.  UNDSS offers online training as well as instructor-led training.

UNDSS conducts or manages more than 100 instructor-led training programmes, reaching almost 10,000 UN personnel each year. Courses target managers with security responsibilities, security personnel, UN personnel and high-level officials such as Designated Officials.

UNSMS mandatory learning programmes includes, among others, Basic Security in the Field, Advanced Security in the Field and Security Management Team Training. Almost 400,000 UN personnel have completed these courses since 2011, making them by far the most important UN trainings. Furthermore, most instructor-led trainings include a pre-course online component.