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2. Other mechanisms and initiatives

In addition to NGO-led or focused security collaboration mechanisms, there are several other initiatives that aim to strengthen security collaboration between organisations that may be active in the operating context.

Saving Lives Together (SLT)

Saving Lives Together (SLT) is an initiative to strengthen security collaboration between the UN Security Management System (UNSMS), INGOs and International Organisations (IOs). The objective of SLT is to enhance the ability of partner organisations to make informed decisions and manage risk based on shared information and knowledge.  

Although sometimes misinterpreted as a list of services that the UN provides to NGOs, the SLT framework is a partnership initiative whereby organisations commit to collaborate on several areas, such as improving coordination, sharing information and resources, and facilitating access to training.

Organisations perceive and assess risks differently, and therefore implement security arrangements which suit their organisation and its operational conditions. SLT aims to support an organisation’s existing security risk management framework, not replace it – all organisations retain responsibility for the safety and security of their own staff.

Saving Lives Together Framework

Saving Lives Together, launched originally in 2001 as the ‘menu of options’ and then rebranded as Saving Lives Together in 2006, is a framework for improving UN-NGO security collaboration in humanitarian operations and includes:

  • Establishing security coordination arrangements and forums.
  • Sharing relevant security information.
  • Cooperating on security training.
  • Cooperating on operational and logistics arrangements, where feasible.
  • Identifying resource requirements for enhancing security coordination between the UN, INGOs and IOs, and advocate for funding.
  • Consulting on common ground rules for humanitarian action.

SLT collaboration mechanisms may be established at country level and replicated at area/regional level where required. SLT implementation is divided into two levels: Regular and Enhanced:

  • Regular Level SLT – focus is on establishing dialogue and information sharing arrangements.
  • Enhanced Level SLT – for more complex security environments, resulting in more enhanced information sharing, security coordination, and operational arrangements.

Determination of the appropriate SLT implementation level is made by the SLT Oversight Committee in close consultation with SLT partner organisations at national, regional and HQ levels.

The primary benefit of SLT is access to additional security information, access to UN Safe and Secure Approaches in Field Environments (SSAFE) trainings and other collaboration opportunities. SLT global counterparts at HQ level receive daily situation reports and can access a common online platform, country WebEx sessions and SLT contact information, as well as access to UNDSS security training.

SLT is available to all INGOs with established operations, or significant activities in the country, regardless of whether they are UN implementing or operational partners. There are no fees or contributions for SLT participation, although some services may be provided on cost recovery basis. Access to SLT is determined at country level and is not dependent on any agreements or counterpart arrangements between United Nations Department for Safety and Security (UNDSS) and the respective INGO or IO at the global level. Where NGO security collaboration mechanisms exist, these can help foster greater SLT cooperation and engagement through the facilitation of information sharing and promoting the needs of the wider NGO community.

While L/NNGOs cannot attain SLT partnership status and therefore do not fall under the SLT Framework, they may still benefit from SLT support through existing NGO security networks or platforms established within their country, such as INSO, or wider coordination bodies and NGO forums. For example, coordination platforms such as the South Sudan NGO Forum and the Humanitarian Forum Yemen have facilitated access to SLT support for their L/NNGOs members.

To ensure coherent implementation of Saving Lives Together, an Oversight Committee (SLT OC) has been established. The SLT OC also decides on the application of the SLT implementation levels. The SLT OC is co-chaired by UNDSS and an INGO representative and includes representatives of different UN agencies, the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR), and NGO coordination platforms, including GISF, ICVA, and InterAction.

UN partner security support

In addition to SLT mechanisms, several UN agencies provide additional security coordination support to implementing partners. For example, World Food Programme (WFP) has established initiatives to improve security collaboration with cooperating partners and other humanitarian organisations operating at country level. The aim is to improve security information sharing, to provide technical advice and to contribute to improved humanitarian access.

{TESS+} Telecommunications Security Standards

Facilitated and coordinated by WFP, {TESS+} is the primary source for guidance and support on Security Communications Systems (SCS) between the UN Security Management System (UNSMS) and NGOs at the global and field-levels.

{TESS+} is mandated by UNDSS, in collaboration with the Interagency Security Management Network (IASMN) and the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), to provide field support in establishing pragmatic and cost effective SCS solutions.

{TESS+} provides guidance on standards and the implementation of procedures, and conducts regular field missions to provide hands-on technical support, including training, to strengthen SCS technologies and infrastructures in remote areas and challenging conditions.

Further information and resources on {TESS+}

This collaboration mechanism is coordinated through GISF and WFP. NGOs submit support requests through their HQ, to link security focal points at national or local levels with WFP Security Advisors in country.

Donor security support initiatives

Humanitarian donors increasingly recognise their vital role in supporting security risk management and the need to improve the exchange of security information among partners, as it ultimately leads to better programme implementation.

Several donors have established initiatives to strengthen security collaboration between organisations and to provide greater security support to their implementing partners. For example, USAID’s initiative, the Partner Liaison Security Operation (PLSO), aims to enhance the sharing of security information and advice between USAID and its implementing partners, both international and national organisations, and to support implementing partners to better manage and mitigate their own security concerns.

PSLO projects have been established in Nigeria, Haiti, Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia, in addition to Security Advisor positions within Afghanistan and Nepal. In most cases, PLSO implementation has been outsourced to commercial risk management companies, but the services offered under this programme are free to all USAID implementing partners, and in some cases are extended to organisations funded by other donors.

USAID Partner Liaison Security Operations (PLSO)

Partner Liaison Security Operations (PLSO) is a USAID-funded initiative to enhance communication and support between USAID and its Implementing Partners (IPs) regarding safety and security. PLSO provides a variety of services to USAID and its IPs, including:

  • Threat alerts – by text and email.
  • Security awareness briefings.
  • Online and in-person security training.
  • Workshops and networking events.
  • Security resources and templates.
  • Office and operating area risk assessments.
  • Security advisory services.

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), previously DFID, and the German development agency GIZ have established Risk Management Offices (RMO), jointly in Nepal, and separately in Nigeria (DFID), Yemen and Afghanistan (GIZ). While the RMOs principally support the donor’s own staff and programmes, security advice, information, training and support is also extended to partners.