Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New UN Security Chief Lays Down a Marker

The United Nation's Department of Safety and Security (DSS) has a new Undersecretary, one who until recently was the Director of the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). How great is that? He can re-use his old DSS logo caps and coffee mugs!

The new boss was interviewed by the UN correspondent of the Washington Times. Here are some quotes from the WT article:

At least 20 U.N. outposts in dangerous corners of the world suffer from inadequate security despite rising threats to the organization, the U.N. director of security says.

Gregory B. Starr, a former State Department security specialist named as U.N. security coordinator a little more than three months ago, cited U.N. offices in Iraq and Afghanistan for particular concern.

He also classified outposts in Somalia, Sudan's Darfur region, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon as dangerous spots for U.N. international and local staff.

Mr. Starr spent much of his first three months on the job assessing the needs of U.N. bureaus in Africa, Asia and even New York City. Having completed an initial review, he told The Washington Times that he was especially concerned with security conditions in at least 20 U.N. sites.

He offered his assessment to The Washington Times a year and a half after a deadly car bomb leveled the U.N. headquarters in Algeria.

The Dec. 11, 2007, attack in the capital city of Algiers killed 22 people, including 17 U.N. staffers. A local insurgent group claiming to be affiliated with al Qaeda took responsibility for the blast.

-- snip --

The Algiers bombing was the second major assault on U.N. property this decade.
In August 2003, Iraqi insurgents drove a truckload of explosives onto a small road behind the U.N. compound in Baghdad. The attack killed 22 people, including Brazilian diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. official in Iraq.

The UN has never had a comparative assessment of vulnerabilities before now, even though that's the only way to rationally prioritize your security needs and develop a budget. If I interpret this interview correctly, U/S Starr is putting the UN on the path toward a risk-based protection program, just like the one he implemented in his previous position at the other DSS.

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