UNDSS provides a safety and security policy framework

In developing new security policies, planning and coordinating with partners is a key element of the work of UNDSS. UNDSS elaborates all security policies, covering all aspects of security management,  in consultation with all UNSMS organizations that are stakeholders. Policies facilitate decision making and ensure cohesion within the UNSMS.






Security-related United Nations Conventions and Framework

UN Security is underpinned by five main legal documents, outlining the responsibilities of all stakeholders: 

  1. United Nations Charter – articles 104 and 105 
  2. Conventions on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (1946 and 1947)
  3. Convention on Safety and Security of United Nations Personnel and Associated Personnel (1994) – Optional Protocol (2005) 
  4. Annual Resolutions of the General Assembly on Safety and Security of UN personnel and associated personnel(Corr.1), (Corr.2)

How are security policies developed?

Security policies are initiated, developed and reviewed by the Inter-Agency Security Management Network (IASMN), a specialized  network of the High Level Committee on Management (HLCM). The Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security chairs the IASMN, composed of the senior security managers of all organizations represented in the UNSMS.Following the IASMN’s consideration and approval of security policies, the HLCM either approves or decides on the IASMN’s recommendation directly or recommends the endorsement of the UNSMS policies for the CEB’s approval. Policies are circulated after being approved by the HLCM/CEB. Therefore, they are UN system-wide policies endorsed at the highest level of the United Nations system. We usually refer to these policies as “UNSMS policies”.

The Security Policy Manual: A Robust Policy Framework for Security Operations

The Security Policy Manual (SPM) constitutes a solid policy framework for enabling the conduct of UN operations while ensuring the safety and security of UN personnel. The Security Policy Manual contains a series of security policies that guide all actors within the UNSMS, including UNDSS. There are four essential policies for any security decision maker in the United Nations system:

The Applicability Policy

This policy identifies who falls under the scope of the UNSMS and are covered by United Nations security arrangements. Those covered include internationally- and locally-recruited personnel and their eligible family members, interns, United Nations Volunteers and consultants for United Nations entities. In practical terms, this means that any individual who has signed a direct contractual agreement with one of the UNSMS entities falls under the UNSMS in accordance with this policy. 

In DPKO or DPA-led missions,  individually-deployed police and military personnel are covered by the UNSMS. The security of troops deployed with their contingents, and police in Formed Police Units are covered by separate mechanisms. Individuals recruited locally and hired on an hourly basis are excluded from this policy as are any family members of individually-deployed military or police personnel. 

The Policy on Security Risk Management (SRM)

This policy outlines the concept and principles which guide all decisions related to security within the UNSMS. The SRM process is a structured and risk-based decision-making tool. It guides the process for the identification and assessment of the threats to United Nations personnel, assets and operations in a Designated Area. It then identifies measures and procedure to reduce the level of associated risk in order to enable program delivery within acceptable levels of risk. The process also includes a structured decision-making model for acceptable risk, which balances security risk with programme criticality (next). 

The Framework of Accountability for the United Nations Security Management System

The Framework of Accountability provides details on the various roles, responsibilities and accountability related to security decision making from the Secretary-General to the individual staff member. It also provides the architecture for decision-making related to security. In the United Nations, the decision-making for day to decisions related to security is decentralized to the field, generally to the most senior United Nations representative, who therefore holds the responsibility of Designated Official for Security (DO).

 The DO is accountable to the Secretary-General, through the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security and is responsible for the security of United Nations personnel, premises and assets in the Designated Area. The Secretary-General delegates to the DO the requisite authority to take decisions, subject to review of the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security.

The DO is assisted by a Security Management Team (SMT), composed by all representatives of the UNSMS organizations in the country or Designated Area, and by a Security team led by a Principle Security Adviser, Chief Security Adviser or Security Adviser depending on the size and complexity of the area.

The Programme Criticality Framework

This is a mandatory policy of the Organization endorsed by the HLCM and the Policy Committee. Its application is crucial to ensure integrated security decision-making in an area. The aim of the Programme Criticality Framework is to assess programmatic priorities in changing or volatile security situations. The responsibility for Programme Criticality lies with the senior United Nations representative in country responsible for programmes (i.e., the Resident Coordinator or Special Representative of the Secretary-General).

Programme Criticality assessments are also recommended as preparatory measures in those countries with unpredictable or rapidly changing security environments. Such proactive assessments can facilitate rapid decision-making if the security risks are suddenly elevated. Once a certain UN program is assessed to a certain level of criticality, it is then possible to see what level of risk the UN is able to accept in order to implement it. Find out more about Programme Criticality at the United Nations here: www.programmecriticality.org