Staff Safety and Security in IOM
United Nations Security Management Systems (UNSMS)
As the world experiences violent conflicts, the impact of climate change, migration challenges and other insecurities, IOM is stepping up to respond to global crises while ensuring the safety and security of its personnel, premises, assets, and operations.
IOM is a part of the United Nations Security Management System (UNSMS) – a system of policies and procedures related to the security of personnel, premises, assets, and operations. The goal of the UNSMS is to enable the activities of participating organizations within acceptable levels of security risk.
As defined therein (Section A “Framework of Accountability”, Chapter II of the Security Policy Manual), the primary responsibility for the safety and security of UNSMS organizations rests with the host government. This responsibility flows from every government’s normal and inherent function of maintaining order and protecting persons and property within its jurisdiction.
Without prejudice to the above, UNSMS organizations have a duty as employers to reinforce and, where necessary, supplement the capacities of the host governments to fulfil their obligations in circumstances where UNSMS personnel are working in areas that require prevention and mitigation measures beyond those which the host government can reasonably be expected to provide.
In this regard, the Framework for Accountability for Security specifies the responsibilities and accountabilities of UN officials and personnel for such measures, inter alia, as follows.
The UN Secretary-General is accountable to the Member States for the proper running and administration of the Organization and implementation of its programmes, including for the overall safety and security of UNSMS personnel, premises, assets and operations at headquarters and in the field locations.
The Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security represents the Secretary-General on all UNSMS-related matters and heads the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) which is responsible for providing leadership, operational support and oversight of the UNSMS.
In IOM, the ultimate responsibility for security rests with the Director General.
The Senior Security Focal Point (in IOM – Director of the Office of Staff Security (OSS) provides advice, guidance and technical assistance to the Director General and all relevant actors on all issues related to security risk management; and coordinates the organization’s response to safety and security issues.
IOM Office of Staff Security (OSS) Mandate
The IOM Office of Staff Security (OSS) is a trusted and client‐oriented center of excellence for security* risk management. OSS enables the delivery of IOM’s programmes through the provision of quality, timely, innovative, effective, and efficient advisory and support services, while managing risks of IOM personnel and activities at acceptable levels.
While the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) provides strategic support horizontally across the UN system, the IOM security function provides in-depth support, from the strategic to the tactical level, which is specifically tailored to the mandate and specific operational needs of IOM.
*Security relates to harm caused deliberately. In addition, OSS is also responsible for some safety issues, limited to commercial air travel, road, and fire safety. This document uses the term “security” to cover all issues under the United Nations Security Management System (UNSMS).
The OSS contributes to IOM’s capacity to anticipate, prevent, respond to and recover from crises, adapt to events, and create lasting value. The OSS strategy is designed to achieve the OSS vision and core goals through the provision of the following five areas of support and services:
Security policy advisory, oversight, and compliance
Security and safety (specific to air safety, road safety, and fire safety) risk management advisory and support services
Security reporting, analysis, and communications
Inter-agency liaison, collaboration, and coordination through the UNSMS
Security learning events for capacity building and awareness-raising for all IOM security decision makers, personnel, and career progression strategy for IOM security personnel
The OSS should be involved from the onset of the emergency, to ensure that security requirements such as security surge advisory support, security equipment, security communication, security training, and funding and other are identified from the very beginning of the crisis, and to support IOM engaged in the emergency response.
Security Clearance and Travel Request Information Process (TRIP)
In accordance with the Framework of Accountability for the United Nations Security Management System (UNSMS), the UN Secretary-General delegates to the Designated Official (DO), through the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, the requisite authority to take security-related decisions. Based on the DO’s authority and responsibility for the security and safety of all United Nations system personnel and their eligible family members at a duty station, it is mandatory that DOs manage security clearance procedures for their area of responsibility and issue security clearances for external and internal travel.
To assist with this responsibility, the Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) supports a web-based system called “Travel Request Information Process” (TRIP).
UNSMS personnel must create and maintain an accurate profile on the TRIP website for themselves and their eligible family members and obtain security clearance prior to travelling.
It is mandatory for United Nations system personnel and eligible family members to obtain security clearance for all official travel, regardless of location, and they cannot commence official travel without obtaining it.
The request for security clearance made in TRIP will include, at a minimum, the following information:
- United Nations Laissez-Passer (UNLP) or national passport number, issue, and expiry date
- Mission/travel purpose
- Specific dates of the mission
- Where the individual is staying while at the duty station/Accommodation details when on mission.
The TRIP clearance, once received, will contain destination-specific security information and advice together with contacts of UNDSS officials for the duty station.
Importance of participating in a country security briefing
It is critical for all IOM personnel to understand their responsibility for their security and to obtain a security briefing from the appropriate security officials upon onboarding or upon arrival to their destination while on official travel.
The security briefing covers (but is not limited to) the following important topics: UNSMS structure at country level, country information, UNSMS/IOM footprint in a country, general threat assessment, risks for UNSMS personnel and activities, Security Risk Management Measures, Residential Security Measures, key standard operating procedures, warden system, procedure for reporting security incidents, contacts of security personnel, information on Aide Memoire on response to gender-based security incidents, information on Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) protocol and contacts of PEP-kit custodians, mandatory and recommended security training, emergency procedures, SCAAN arrangements, and other relevant information and recommendations.
Please contact your Regional Security Officer to assist with arranging the security briefing.
Aide Memoire on response to gender-based security incidents
All duty stations must develop and maintain an Aide-Memoire providing guidance to all personnel in the location on the available resources in the event of a gender-based security incident. The Aide-Memoire provides all UN personnel with a list of medical, psycho-social, and judicial support services available in the event of a gender-based security incident. Such resources should be accessible to all UN personnel and family members (internationally or locally recruited), considering both access and availability of support, as well as options for personnel of diverse sex, and sexual identity, language, ethnicity, race, etc.
The Aide-Memoire can be found at Country Security Documents.
PEP protocol and PEP kits
Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is an emergency medical response for individuals exposed to the HIV virus; it consists of medication, laboratory tests, and counselling. PEP must be initiated within hours of possible HIV exposure and must continue for a period of approximately four weeks.
The PEP treatment has not been proven to prevent the transmission of the HIV virus, but research studies suggest that if the treatment is initiated quickly after the possible exposure - that is, ideally within two hours and not later than 72 hours following possible HIV exposure - it may be beneficial in preventing HIV infection.
All UN system personnel and their family members are eligible to have access to a PEP kit, in case needed.
The Security Management Team in each country is responsible for designating PEP kit custodians and for ensuring that the names of these custodians are widely circulated to all personnel, through the regular means through which security information is shared (security briefings, 24/7 emergency contact lists).
Please contact your Regional Security Officer to seek information about PEP protocol and PEP kit custodians in your location.
Advice related to Health and Occupational Safety
For questions related to health and occupational safety, please contact the Occupational Health Unit (OHU).
Security Training: BSAFE
A prerequisite for employment/deployment of IOM personnel, is successful completion of all required security training.
BSAFE is the online security awareness training, which is mandatory for all UNSMS personnel, and highly recommended for non-UNSMS personnel and family members. It is available in the UN official languages and is accessible for persons with a wide range of disabilities.
BSAFE certificates will not expire.
Please follow the link to start the BSAFE online training: training.dss.un.org – Online courses by the United Nations Department of Safety & Security
Other security training may be mandatory in line with the Security Risk Management (SRM) requirements, such as Response to Active Shooter Online Training, UN Safe and Secure Approaches in Field Environment (SSAFE) training, Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) etc.
Please contact your Regional Security Officer for information on the mandatory security training at the destination.
Security Communications and Analysis Network (SCAAN)
The Security Communications and Analysis Network (SCAAN) is a mobile application and security dashboard designed to enhance safety and security in IOM. SCAAN is used extensively in emergency contexts to send security alerts, conduct headcounts and monitor movements in high-risk areas. It also allows IOM personnel to send an alert if urgent assistance is needed and communicate directly with security practitioners and IOM OSS Global Operation Center (OPCEN) which monitors the platform 24/7/365.
SCAAN mobile application enables IOM personnel to:
- Request assistance through activation of the ‘Not Okay Status’ function
- Post Basic or Advanced Reports, in case of a safety or security incident or event
- Communicate directly with OSS via the SCAAN Instant Message (IM) service
- File for UNDSS TRIP Security Clearance
- Receive security advisories at a global, regional or country level
- Respond to mission/country level headcounts
- Contact security personnel (both IOM OSS and UNDSS) in their duty station
In addition, SCAAN produces security reports with detailed information for emergency contexts as follows:
- Daily eGSO – electronic Global Security Overview
- Monthly eMSB – electronic Monthly Security Bulletin
- Quarterly eQSR - electronic Quarterly Security Review
SCAAN mobile application is available for iOS in the App Store and Android in Google Play Store.