Security and Conflict Transformation: An Internal Business

Textbook 2014 50 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Topic: Peace and Conflict Studies, Security


Table of Contents



Technical Security in Peace and Humanitarian Operations
1. Introduction
2. History
3. From Baghdad to Algiers
4. Present and Future

Conflict Avoidance Positive Methodologies
1. Introduction
2. Qualitative Flexibility
3. Professional Experience and Positive Attitude
4. Exposing the Negative to Reach the Positive
5. Qualitative Combination
6. Potential Challenges

Operations' Practical Security Methodology
1. Introduction
2. Enriching Security Departments
2.1. Promoting Personnel Participation in Security
2.2. Setting-up Interactive Training
2.3. Change of Security Image
2.4. Humour
2.5. Approach and Outreach
2.6. Applying Flexibility without Compromising Security

Towards Conflict-free Operation Environment
1. Introduction
2. Better Internal Coordination
3. Managerial-Political Support
4. Everybody's Business


List of Abbreviations




This book is the result of the author's experience and observation in peace, electoral, and humanitarian operations combined with the scholar apprenticeship undergone throughout the years in reputed institutions like the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies at the Coventry University in the UK, the Inter-American Defense College in the USA, and the Folke Bernadotte Academy in Sweden, as well as at the training department of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, both in its headquarters in Austria and the field operation in Kosovo.

The author avoids explicitly to name people, agencies, or projects in this book for critic purposes, although credits institutions and individuals for effort and success in different peace and humanitarian operations. This is done to honour the privacy of sources, as their opinions represent widespread points of view and not of individualistic sentiment.

Peacebuilding operations are organizational structures in emergency environments or post-conflict areas working to restore and maintain stable peace. The specificity of the geographical or political instability makes it necessary for these entities to count on with technical security departments in charge of guaranteeing the well-being of staff members and protecting programmes and assets. To effectively perform these tasks, operations' internal security departments produce a set of regulations comprised in three different operational blocks: security plans, security standard operation procedures and contingency plans, and risk and threat assessments. These norms are then communicated, trained on, and enforced to all mission staff members.

Often staff members in peacebuilding operations disregard security regulations, either conscious or unconsciously, causing secondary negative effects on operations, perceptions, and relations, and slow down or even halt programmes. Often, as well, technical security departments employ a larger amount of time to enforce regulations than required due to lack of compliance with security policy.

The aim of this book is to present a set of methodologies at the operational, perceptual, and relational level that implemented and coordinated by operations' technical security departments could positively support and enhance performance, not only in security and safety, but in operation's mandate objectives and ultimately in building stable peace.

It is understood and explained that security regulations can affect operations, in the sense that it can slow down and restrict programmes, especially in high risk environments. Therefore, the focus of this book is placed in peacebuilding and humanitarian operations with a moderate risk level, defined in the United Nations language as Security Phases one and two.


Security is defined as “the state of being free from danger or threat.”[1] Maslow refers to the human need for safety away from threat and danger, from the early stages of infant life (1943: 376), placing it on the second lowest level of his famous hierarchy of needs pyramid,[2] where security is considered only less prevalent than physiological needs like breathing, eating, drinking, or sleeping. Parallel to security, Oxford dictionary as well defines risk as “a situation involving exposure to danger,” and management is “the process of dealing with or controlling things or people.” Having defined separately these terms, organizational security and risk management refers to the institutional ability to control and alleviate the potential losses it will lay it selves open to while operating in hostile environments or simply suffering from unfavourable activities (MacAdams 2004)[3]. When these organizational structures are placed in peacebuilding contexts, the risk to different threats exposure increases and internal security departments become protagonists in ensuring safety for staff, assets, and programmes. Finally, peacebuilding organizational structures are generally placed in post-conflict, natural disaster, or emergency relief required areas, and their commitment refers to preventing, resolving and transforming violent conflicts into stable peace (CPRS 2011)[4]. As Keohane and Wallander discuss, a combination of the defined terms bring down to the actors of this book: peacebuilding organizational operations’ security management departments or institutions (2002: 89) and its regulations, and the staff, assets, and programmes affected by the actions and the regulations of the first actors[5].

There are a significant number of occasions when staff members deployed in peace and humanitarian operations omit security regulations, affecting their professional and, in cases, personal daily routines. The avoidance to follow rules is conscious in some cases and unconscious in other situations, but the final result affects the exposure to threats of staff members, operation's assets and programmes, separately or simultaneously, increasing its vulnerability to significant higher risk level and impact, should an incident happen (Young 2010: 47).

The reasons for mission personnel to exclude security regulations can be as varied as the psyche of human beings. But for the purpose of this book and to limit its scope, I chose to disregard negative factors that would lead staff members to avoid following security regulations and focused on positive methodologies who would reinforce attitudes and channel staff members towards common objectives, while working on operational and personal security.

As a nineteen years experienced practitioner in organizations like the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the European Union, the Spanish national public service, and diplomatic missions, I witnessed in considerable number of situations and locations recurring phrases like: “security [department] is too strict, and won’t let this mission work” or “security regulations are too tight, we can’t do our job.”[6] These sentences are mainly thrown out in times of personnel discontent, either in field operations or headquarters and have double connotation when used: from one side they carry complaints towards the strictness of regulations and its enforcement; on the other side bear a subtle message of criticism towards the department in charge of producing and enforcing them. The result of this criticism is likely to bring forth a professional confrontation, if not an interdepartmental one.

This publication aims at effectively propose methodologies for security departments to apply in their activities in peace and humanitarian operation personnel through different levels: operational, perceptual, and relational. At the operational level, the book will develop into training and personnel participation techniques; at the perceptual level, it will focus on change of image and inclusion of humour into daily activities; at the relational level, it will concentrate on approachability through outreach techniques. Although there might be a general perception and, perhaps, misconception in the peacebuilding arena that security regulations become barriers for operational aspects in peace and humanitarian operations, this book does not aim to contradict this statement, but to provide a forum for positive and interactive methodologies ground that would conceptualize contending elements towards unified operations, perceptions, and relations in peace and humanitarian professionals.

However, I do acknowledge that high risk field operations like Afghanistan, Iraq, or Sudan’s security regulations (in part or totally) do affect the pace of programmes’ implementation, and cause disruption to operations (UN 2012)[7]. Therefore, the aim targets those operations where risk and threat levels range from level one (precautionary) to level two (restricted movement)[8], as these levels permit to develop higher sustainability in peace or humanitarian mission activities (WFP 2002: 307). A focus on high risk operations would be ineffective for the purpose of this study.

The final aim of this book is to combine the previously described methodologies and set up a common ground between security departments' personnel and the rest of peace or humanitarian operation's personnel, where the objective is to respect mandates in safe working environments, and provide ideas for establishing domains where staff members can develop their professional and personal tasks with the safety required. The implementation of the methodology in an interactive manner would be responsibility of security departments with the acquiescence and voluntary participation of all parties involved. In fact, it is not an aim of this book to prove wrong the before mentioned accusations against security departments of “not letting them perform effectively due to high security regulations.” The study, particularly at the analytical level will be supported by the professional experience throughout my career with the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Mission in Kosovo (OMIK), the European Union Election Observation Mission in Mexico (EU-EOM), and the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM).

I considered this topic relevant to the overall topic of peacebuilding, being security a key element involved in the elaboration of policies, deployment of peace and humanitarian missions to post-conflict areas, and the constant concern for states and institutions involved in stabilization and normalization processes. On the more technical term of security and risk management, it is the technical department in charge of dealing with internal security policies, risk and threat assessments, security plans, the enforcement of all, and in summary, the care and precaution for the well being of staff members, assets, and programmes. It is a combination of all these aspects that made the subject of this study of ample importance for me, as it constitutes part of my professional experience and scholar interest. Since I joined the UNMIK in the Civilian Police component in August 1999, I held diverse positions in different post-conflict and non-post-conflict areas as security manager and law enforcement liaison officer, shaping my career and developing understanding for staff members integration into the role of security in peace and humanitarian operations. I found that participation is crucial for the success of security departments, as it engages all staff members in tasks and routines that are specifically developed for their own well being. But as well, it is of enormous benefit for the peacebuilding process as it provides higher efficiency to all departments and offices if security regulations are properly followed. It professionalises mission personnel as security is a daily subject that concerns to all staff members and not only security professionals. Moreover, security could be the common link to bring together mission members from different departments, who otherwise may not communicate, through trainings, rehearsals, common security projects like warden structures, and drills.

The application of all these methodologies and techniques in an interactive and coordinated manner would only benefit peace and humanitarian missions, their operations, their staff security and, in principle, their self knowledge and internal communications and relations.

Finally, a correct implementation of the suggestions provided in this book, would hopefully lead to peace and humanitarian operations internal conflict-free environments and enhanced peacebuilding effectiveness, which would permit deeper focus on mission mandates and overall objectives.

Technical Security in Peace and Humanitarian Operations

1. Introduction

The United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) is the main example of a technical security institution in the peace and humanitarian arena, defining its mandate as the “responsible for providing leadership, operational support and oversight of the security management system to enable the safest and most efficient conduct of the programmes and activities of the United Nations System.”[9] (UNDSS 2012).

2. History

The United Nations participate actively since its creation in 1945 in peace and humanitarian operations. The first major peacekeeping operation was sent to Egypt in 1956. But it is the end of the Cold War era what triggered a succession of peacebuilding missions sent to different areas of the world to stop civil conflicts, establish solid peace, and prevent return of further violence (Paris 2004: 38). These missions grew in number and size after the first post Cold War era, with its first mission to Namibia in 1989, becoming more professional and experienced. As missions grew, so did the attacks against UN personnel and assets, making it necessary to establish technical security departments that would deal with threat response and, gradually, with risk prevention. UN had then a security management system supervised by the United Nations Security Coordinator[10] (UNSECOORD), whose office was responsible for the management of the security in the field. Parallel to the Office of UNSECOORD, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) had established its own security management team in the field, alongside to the civilians who performed their duties in hazardous areas. As well, each of the UN headquarters throughout the world had independent security teams, as well as the International Tribunals established in The Hague and Arusha.[11]

On 19 August 2003 a truck loaded with explosives was driven into the compound of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, where the UN had its Mission in Iraq headquarters. The explosion killed twenty two people, among them the Special Representative of the Secretary General Sergio Vieira de Mello, and injured more than one hundred and fifty. A few days later, a subsequent explosion at the same facilities killed another two people and injured nineteen. These events were the alarm to start seriously realizing that the UN was at risk and that further attacks would take place regardless of the geographical location (UN 2003)[12].

Following the bombings the UN integrated in a period over one year the different security departments throughout the world, except those belonging to the International Tribunals[13] which are currently semi-independent although with specific agreements related to functional dependency. The UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/59/276, XI, 7 from 23 December 2004 created the UNDSS, which started operating on 1 January 2005[14].

However, the risks for the UN did not evaporate with the integration of the different security departments into one. On 11 December 2007 a bomb exploded at the UN offices in Algiers, Algeria, killing a total of thirty one people and injuring one hundred and seventy seven. These two attacks were the major terrorist events targeting the UN since its conception, although a third incident provoked as many UN victims as the previous: the earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010. For the purpose of this study only the two attacks are being taken for further analysis.


[1] Oxford dictionaries http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/security?q=security

[2] See Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in Maslow, A.H. (1943) ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’. Psychological Review 50 (4), 370-396

[3] MacAdams, A.C. (2004) ‘Security and Risk Management: a Fundamental Business Issue’. The Information Management Journal 38 (4), 36-44

[4] Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies (2011) ‘Theory and Practice in Peacebuilding: Understanding Armed Conflict’ (2) 1, Coventry, Coventry University

[5] Keohane, R.O. (2002) Power and Governance in a Partially Globalized World. London: Routledge

[6] The author uses these sentences as a summary of sentences heard throughout his professional years as security manager in field operations in Kosovo, Georgia, and Mexico, where a considerable number of staff members in each mission have verbally expressed them, mainly in moments of professional dissatisfaction.

[7] See the United Nations (2012) ‘The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security’. General Assembly Security Council, pp. 3-4 [online] available from<http://unama.unmissions.org/Portals/UNAMA/SG%20Reports/SG%20Report%20to%20the%20Security%20Council-March%202012.pdf>

[8] See United Nations World Food Programme Emergency Field Operations Pocketbook (13) 307 [online] available from http://www.unicef.org/emerg/files/WFP_manual.pdf

[9] See United Nations Department of Safety and Security Mission Mandate [online] available from https://dss.un.org/dssweb/Home.aspx

[10] UN created a full time Security Coordinator in 2001 at the rank of Assistant Secretary-General.

[11] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was set up in The Hague, Netherlands on 1993. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was set up in Arusha, Tanzania on 1994.

[12] United Nations (2003) Report of the Independent Panel on the Safety and Security of UN Personnel in Iraq. [online] available from <http://www.un.org/News/dh/iraq/safety-security-un-personnel-iraq.pdf>

[13] Namely the International Criminal Court based in The Hague, Netherlands, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia based in The Hague, Netherlands, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda based in Arusha, Tanzania, and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon double based in Leidschendam, Netherlands and Beirut, Lebanon.

[14] [online] available from <> pp.8-14


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Security Conflict Internal Business Technical Security



Title: Security and Conflict Transformation: An Internal Business