The Programme Criticality Framework was developed through extensive consultation at headquarters and field levels, including field-testing in Somalia, Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo, and approved by HLCM and CEB in 2011, for use in determining the criticality level for specific activities within a given geographic location and timeframe. This Programme Criticality level determination would then be used in the Acceptable Risk Model to ensure that UN personnel do not take unnecessary risk and that those who remain in-country work on highest priority activities in accordance with UN strategic results. The Framework also allows country-level programme managers to design programmes and activities to be within predictable, known acceptable risks.

Upon approving the UN System Programme Criticality Framework in September 2011, the HLCM asked that it be rolled out in at least 12 priority countries (between January 2012 and April 2013) and that a consolidated progress report (with lessons learned and recommended adjustments) be made to the HLCM at its spring 2013 session. The CEB endorsed the HLCM recommendations at its October 2011 session.

Consequently, a guided roll-out of Programme criticality has been undertaken between January 2012 and January 2013 in Afghanistan, Sudan, Mali, Mauritania, Yemen and Syria. The technical support given to these assessments were overseen by the Programme Criticality Working Group (PCWG) which is chaired by UNICEF. A letter, which emphasizes the importance of Programme criticality as a concept that supports the UN system's efforts to ‘stay and deliver’ in high risk areas, was sent to field presences in 27 countries. The letter was co-signed by the UNDG Chair, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, and the USGs for DSS, DPKO, DFS and DPA, and transmitted on 29 of January 2013. Additionally, based on the experience and feedback from this guided roll-out, the Programme Criticality Framework has been revised and is submitted for approval by the HLCM.


In line with the new working modalities for the HLCM, comments on and approval of the revised Programme Criticality Framework would be provided electronically to the CEB Secretariat by the end of March 2013. If needed, the CEB Secretariat would proceed to a second and final iteration, for final approval.


(Decisions to be finalized following an electronic review by the Committee to be completed by the end of March 2013):

Approves the revised Programme Criticality Framework, including the establishment of a Programme Criticality Steering Committee (PCSC);

Approves a continued guided roll-out of the PC framework, under current arrangements,  in priority countries up until June 2014, at which time the need for an independent assessment of PC should be determined;

Tasks the PCSC to recommend a longer term institutional solution for the coordination of PC and providing technical support to the field by June 2014 latest.