The Security Risk Assessment Metodology in UN Agencies

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In todays ever-changing business landscape, international organizations play fundamental roles in service delivery by implementing various projects and other activities that are goal-oriented. These services are meant to uplift the living standards of the targeted population. However, many such initiatives and operations are often hampered by security threats that tend to have detrimental effects on personnel, assets as well as the operations. This seems to elaborate the lack of commitment and lack of risk management in the manner these organizations operate. On the other hand, it is relatively impossible to have operations without potential risks. It is, therefore, essential to have proper risk management framework rather than the mere attempt to eliminate the risks. These aspects guided this research work to put the focus on comprehending how realistic and effective is the security risk assessment technique used in International Organizations to ensure the security and safety of its personnel, assets, and operations. In light with this, it aims to examine SRA methodology used by UN agencies and other organizations as well as evaluating its applicability in their field missions.

A mixed approach was employed for this study with a total of participants being used to gather data. The mixed approach entailed the use of semi-structured interviews with 15 participants alongside online survey that used the same number of participants from the international organizations holding various positions.

Keywords: Risk assessment, Risk Management, International Organizations, Security risk Assessment, personnel, Assets and Operation.


DSS - Department for Security and Safety

ERM - Enterprise Risk Management

NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NGO - Non-governmental Organization

OSCE - Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

SMS - Security Management System

SRA - Security Risk Assessment

UN - United Nation

UNHCR - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

RAMCAP - Risk Analysis and Management for Critical Asset Protection

Chapter One: Introduction

International organizations continue to operate in countries with various security environments exposed to many security threats. They constantly continue keep putting a lot of efforts and resources to address security concerns and to identify the appropriate security mechanisms to mitigate their security risks. Consequently, international organizations developed their own security management system (SMS) following and adapting the United Nations (UN) one. It led to the adaption of security risk assessment (SRA) used in UN SMS as well, which is an essential part of the SMS and is based on a structured threats assessment model or otherwise called system-based approach (Bruderlein and Gassmann, 2006). However, only during 2013, there were recorded 155 killed, 171 seriously severely wounded and 134 kidnapped aid workers of several organisations (Jones, 2014). These figures show that casualties involving employees of international organisations continue to be high, while questioning the efficiency and effectiveness of the current SRA methodology used by UN and other humanitarian agencies, and raising scepticism about their entire security and safety management system.

Consequently, many UN agencies and other organizations have provided guidelines for their security professionals on developing a SRA as an intergraded part of their SMS, thus standardizing the structure and format of SRAs. This is believed to be a useful instrument within these organizations for assessing and managing their security and safety issues. However, other security professionals and scholars were critical of the current approach applied by UN in its field missions. Bruderlein and Gassmann (2006) suggested that UN has not yet developed a strategic approach questioning the current methods for assessing their security risks, managing crises, communication and structures responsible for their security and safety. Even earlier, Bellamy (2004) suggested that organizations are becoming a direct target of terrorism and other forms of violence including criminal activity, which requires a change in approach and viewpoint towards security management to support organizations programme. This research will contribute in identifying several problems and gaps associated with the SRA methodology used employed by UN agencies and other international organizations and consequently improve practises in SRA process and enhance the SMS practices and security and safety management. The SRA provides the foundation for the security and safety management process and serves as a primary tool for security professionals for identifying, assessing and analysing security threats and risks. Although that there are many methodologies for conducting an SRA, it is important to explain first the SRA concept. Initially, this concept originated from the business approach to enable the protection of their assets and reducing losses. The SRA concept is described as objective analyses of the effectiveness of the current security controls that protect an organizations assets and a determination of the probability of losses to those assets (Landoll, 2006: 11). This concept was immediately adapted adopted by the international organizations aiming to improve their SMS and enhance their security. The SRA methodology adopted by UN and other organisations is structured in programme assessment, threat assessment, vulnerability assessment, current risk analysis and control risk analysis.

The main aim of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness and credibility of SRA methodology used in international organizations as an instrument to ensure the security and safety of their personnel, assets and operations. This research examines SRA methodology used employed by UN agencies and other organizations and evaluates its applicability in their field missions. Additionally, it will examine if the current SRA methodology is the right tool for identifying both internal and external threats that the organisations faces in their operation. Furthermore, it will identify some possible gaps in the current SRA methodology and proposes some elements which may contribute to an improved way of security risks identification. Additionally, it will investigate each component of the SRA methodology including the programmatic approach of organisations and its consequences on developing a comprehensive SRA. Also, it will examine the methodology being used in establishing the security threats and how their standardized methodology influences on the realistic identification of all security threats. The vulnerability component will be discussed in the aspect of the established guidelines forin identifying the vulnerabilities in the respective organizations. While, regarding risk analysis component, this research will examine the current methodology used by some organisation aiming to evaluate if the methodology leads to credible security risks classification. Moreover, the research will identify some other theories and factors that may affect the security and safety management.

The SRA methodology is widely practiced by many institutions and businesses as a tool to identify and manage risks. This is a very broad subject, and methodologies differ depending on its purposes. Therefore, this study research will put emphasisfocus only onin the SRA methodology and guidelines suggested by UN agencies and adopted by other organizations. The academic research on SRAs is very limited. Therefore, this study will review as primary resources the existing online guidelines of organisations and their policy papers related to SRAs, while as secondary resources will serve the existing academic literature in this area. In order toTo contribute further to this research, an online questioner will be distributed to several security professionals operating in various organisations in southeast Europe. Moreover, to understand the employees perception on of their organizations security management system, a structured interview methodology is considered to take place with various employees in different organizations operating in the Balkan region. The data received from online survey and interviews will be processed using the qualitative method, as it is relevant for our purpose of this research (Losel, 2008). Thematic analyses are seen as appropriate to analyse the data, as it is suitable and flexible for the research purposes (Braun and Clarke, 2006). The geographical area of the study is limited, and perhaps an extending area may enable a more comprehensive outcome. In addition, as mentioned in thethe research as mentioned previously, it is focused only in on the SRA methodology used by these organisations, while is evident that there are many other factors that maymany other factors may influence in the security and safety of an organization. However, an effective and comprehensive SRA methodology has a significant role in the SMS of an organisation and limited geographical area a major effect on the research question.

The rest of the study is laid out in five more chapters. Chapter two will cover a literature review, which will examine the exiting existing literature on organizations security management process, SRA methodologies and its component used to determine the risks level and other security and safety mechanisms related to organizations overall security. Chapter three will cover the research methodology explaining research design and how the additional data will contribute to the SRA methodology. The will be to two research samples, where one group consists of security professional serving in different organizations, which is selected for online questionnaire, and the second group is selected for interviews, who are the employees of various organizations in different various positions. Chapter four will present separately the research findings collected from each research sample. Chapter five will discuss all finding resulting from the literature review and research findings. While, chapter six will conclude by assessing the achievements of this study by answering to the main questions and how the answers contribute to the main question of this dissertation.

Chapter Two: Literature Review

In this chapter, the research will review a variety of literature work that focuses onin the research question. The literature review will comprise different sections within of the main chapter. Initially, it will examine the security and safety management in the international organisations by elaborating in the SMS and defining it. It will identify some difficulties related to the current SMS implemented in some organisations. The following section will review the SRA methodology as a concept and its structure. Furthermore, it will identify some difficulties related to the SRA methodology. Other sections will investigate in depth each element of the SRA starting with p...

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