The Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security introduced the agenda item by giving a comprehensive overview of the current global security environment in which UN personnel operate, marked by terrorism, armed conflict, criminality, and civil unrest. He highlighted the global or regional factors such as local, regional and national vulnerabilities including underlying ethnic, religious, sectarian or deteriorating socio-economic conditions which are among the root causes of the current dynamic and complex security environment. While the dangers in the operating environment have increased, as demonstrated by the rise in attacks against United nations premises, and UN personnel are threatened in an increasing number of geographic areas the impact on personnel has been steadily reducing  with less loss of life since 2011.


The USG presented the improved security practices in place across the UN Security Management System (UNSMS), such as safety and security training, increased use of armoured vehicles, enhanced physical security measures, security threat analysis, and the introduction of new policies which have contributed to improving the protection of UN personnel. He also highlighted the need for further interaction in a cross-functional manner with HR and other functions, the need for further integration of the security workforce of the Secretariat under UNDSS leadership, the importance of programme criticality reviews in high risk environments and the need for adequate resourcing of security-related functions in support of effective programme delivery.

Organizations welcomed the briefing and underlined their full support for measures to ensure safety and security of UN personnel. They inquired about suggestions to enforce security standards such as residential security measures, and about the support the UN is giving to victims and their families. The CCISUA representative was interested to learn about approaches with regard to evacuation of locally recruited staff. In its response, the USG highlighted the need to be pragmatic and involve national staff in contingency planning, and noted the ongoing work aimed at developing an internal UN tool to bring perpetrators of violent crimes against the UN to justice, and on duty of care in high risk environments.

The Co-Chair of the Working Group on Duty of Care in high risk environments presented a progress update. She highlighted that all five analysis reports from sub-working groups had been received, and that a consultant was consolidating key findings and lessons learnt from these case studies that will be further discussed in thematic working groups, in order to prevent any duplication of work. She stressed the need for a systematic and comprehensive response to the identified challenges, ranging from medical and psychosocial support for staff to addressing policy gaps and enhancing communication.

The HLCM Vice-Chair thanked both the USG DSS and the Co-Chair of the Working Group for their updates and concluded that a substantive discussion should be held at the next session upon the presentation of the full report of the Working Group.


The Committee:

  • Expressed appreciation to the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Safety and Security for his briefing.
  • Took note of the progress of the HLCM Working Group on Duty of Care and looked forward to reviewing its outcome at its spring 2016 session.