The United Nations system (UN), today, routinely faces multiple crises simultaneously across the globe. The High-Level Committee on Management (HLCM) has thus committed, with a sense of urgency and determination, to build on the experience of increasing tragic events to strengthen management in organizations to preserve the system’s ability to deliver on its programmatic mandates – the UN’s raison d'être – while at the same time, ensuring that UN personnel remain physically and psychologically safe. Therefore, in 2014, HLCM established a Working Group on “Reconciling Duty of Care for UN personnel while operating in high-risk environments” (hereinafter called “Working Group”) to launch a holistic examination (including fact-finding missions) of the programmatic need to “Stay and Deliver”, to assess how to achieve an appropriate balance between carrying out essential work in high risk environments and at the same time, preserving the safety and security of personnel delivering in those environments.

Following the work of the Working Group, in March 2016, HLCM established a cross-functional inter-agency Task Force chaired by Ms. Kelly T. Clements, the Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and co-chaired by Ms. Fatoumata Ndiaye, Deputy Executive Director of Management (UNICEF), to implement the recommendations that had emerged from the previous stages of the work (hereafter called “Task Force”).

Scope of Work: Cross-functional inter-agency Task Force

The Task Force identified a set of 13 deliverables that have since been streamlined to 9, which comprises of the four streams of the system-wide Duty of Care covering psychosocial support, health, human resources and administration and, safety and security. The deliverables cover the preparation, incumbency/during and post phases of deployment and are applicable to all UN personnel, unless otherwise noted (e.g. some deliverables are only applicable to UN locally-recruited staff).  

Going Forward

While the Task Force has addressed all of the initial 13 deliverables (please see report in "HLCM 35th Session, April 2018" below), key work on implementing the deliverables within the organizations and, in particular, within the country context of high-risk environments remains to be done. In addition, while not intending to dilute the focus on 'high-risk environments', the HLCM noted a need to expand review of duty of care in all locations.

In September 2017, HLCM members expressed strong appreciation and support for the work of the Task Force during its 34th session, and adopted the Secretary-General’s recommendation to continue the work of the Task Force. Subsequently, following the HLCM endorsement of action points put forth by the Task Force in April 2018, the Task Force is now consolidating efforts to focus on the following objectives:

  • Continue the implementation phase focusing on monitoring and evaluation;
  • Continue the development of a risk management framework for Duty of Care;
  • Review and extend the applicability of the deliverables in all environments; and
  • Develop implementation plans for providing Duty of Care to non-staff personnel.


For the purpose of the Task Force: 

  • high-risk environments refer to duty stations eligible for danger pay, as determined by the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC).
  • staff refer to all individuals holding letters of appointment in accordance with staff regulations and rules of the UN organizations (including both international and locally-recruited staff), regardless of their types of appointment (fixed-term, continuing/permanent, temporary appointment).
  • personnel refer to all staff, as defined above, and other individuals with a contractual relationship with the Organizations (e.g. consultants, individual contractors, interns, UN Volunteers), in line with the definition used in the United Nations Security Management System.

The reports and relevant documents refer to personnel or staff, depending on the context.

  • stand-by partners refer to individuals deployed by external entities (e.g. the Stabilization Unit of the United Kingdom, the Expert Pool for Civilian Peacebuilding (SEP) of the Swiss Directorate of Political Affairs, the Center for International Peace Operations of Germany (ZIF), CANADEM) to the UN. 
  • locally-recruited staff refers to staff members in the General Service and National Professional Officer categories.

Relevant HLCM reports and documents

Please find the relevant HLCM reports and documents following the links below. You can find the most recent Task Force report on Duty of Care at ‘HLCM 38th Session, October 2019’.