JIU Cyber Security Presentation
Photo: UNICC/Chauhan

UN JIU Recommends a Fund for Member States Donations to Improve the UN System’s Cyber Posture with UNICC Shared Services

The UN Joint Inspection Unit Reviews the State of Cyber Security in the United Nations

In today’s digitalised world, cyber security has emerged as a matter of importance for international organisations, and the United Nations is no exception. The potential consequences of a weak cyber security posture go beyond the disruption of ICT infrastructure and systems – rather, it affects the ability of the United Nations to deliver its mandate is at stake.

The United Nations Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), an independent external oversight body that conducts evaluations, inspections and investigations in the UN, has reviewed the use of cyber security practices across the UN, with distinct recommendations for UN Agencies to leverage cyber security services from the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC) and for the Centre to establish a fund for donor contributions.

The JIU report, Cybersecurity in the United Nations system organizations (JIU/REP/2021/3), identifies common cyber security challenges and risks faced by the UN system, provides an analysis of responses to these threats and examines current inter-Agency dynamics as well as the potential for shared solutions.

The increased interconnectedness and interdependence of systems and data calls for an approach that recognizes cybersecurity risks as a cross-cutting and collective issue that cannot be addressed in isolation.

Catherine Pollard, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance

The JIU recommends in the report that the Director of UNICC establishes a fund for donor contributions in 2022 to complement the capacity of the Centre to design, develop and offer shared services and solutions to enhance the cyber security posture of the UN system.

In addition to this, the JIU recommends that the UN General Assembly takes note of the recommendation addressed to UNICC’s Director to establish a fund and invites Member States wishing to reinforce the cyber security posture of the system to contribute to it.

Advantages of Engaging UNICC and the Need for a Fund

The JIU report on cyber security in the UN system highlights some of the benefits of engaging UNICC, primarily its strict cost-recovery model that ensures a high degree of transparency in the costing of services, ensures a continuous coordination with Partner Organizations and requires the closest possible alignment between service needs and service offer.

However, the same cost-recovery model and absence of profit-orientation can represent an obstacle, as UNICC’s service offerings are dependent on its Partner Organizations providing seed funding to cover the costs of developing new services to meet their demands. 

In this regard, the main aim of the fund the JIU report is recommending would be to finance shared, cyber security solutions to launch cyber security services that would enhance the cyber security posture of UNICC Partner Organizations. The fund would also allow to lower the cost of some of UNICC’s current services to enable more organizations to benefit from the shared cyber security solutions. 

The recommendations made by the Joint Inspections Unit will enable the UN system to strengthen its cyber security posture collectively and uniformly. 

Tima Soni, Chief, Cyber Security Section, UNICC

Other advantages that distinguish UNICC from commercial providers cited in the report include the progressive decrease in the cost of the services as UNICC’s Partner Organizations benefiting from these services grows, the Centre’s intimate knowledge of the system and needs of individual organizations. The objective is to render the system more secure for all, including UNICC as a member of the UN family, keeping in mind that UNICC is subject to the same administrative rules and structures as its Partner Organizations and its engagement with relevant inter-Agency forums. 

UNICC Shared Services, the Most Promising to Protect the UN Family

UNICC’s cyber security solutions enable its Partner Organizations to enhance cyber resilience by strengthening governance, architecture and operational components of cyber security. One of UNICC’s flagship cyber security services is the Common Secure Threat Intelligence Network, which functions to share timely, relevant and actionable security threats and incident information to enhance the ability of its members to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate risks associated with these threats. UNICC’s Management Committee has already approved that the mechanisms set up through this service be leveraged to share timely threat intelligence information with all UNICC Partner Organizations.

The JIU auditors note that this service, which addresses a long-standing collective need, has been assessed in particularly positive terms by a majority of the Centre’s Clients. According to the report, UNICC’s Common Secure Threat Intelligence Network can be considered the most promising cybersecurity service in terms of its potential to naturally attain full system-wide subscription and realize actual protection gains for the system. 

UNICC is ISO 20000, 27001 and 22301 certified. UNICC received the CSO50 award in 2017 and 2020 for the common cyber security services the Centre has built. UNICC also undergoes the ISAE 3402 audits to provide assurance on the services it provides.

Member States Welcome the JIU Report

The JIU and the United Nations Secretariat presented these findings during a special event on 4 November 2021 at the General Assembly in New York, USA, where the inspectors reiterated their request to UNICC to establish a fund to allow Member States to support the provision of shared solutions and system-wide cyber security services.

The event was attended by Member States delegates, UN Secretariat officials including Bernardo Mariano Joaquim Junior, Chief Information Technology Officer, UN Assistant Secretary-General, Office of Information and Communications Technology, representatives and heads of IT and cyber security in the UN and the Director of UNICC, Sameer Chauhan. Participants agreed on the importance of cooperation and collaboration among UN family organizations on this matter. 

Photo: UNICC/Chauhan

Tima Soni, Chief, Cyber Security Section at UNICC, was invited to participate in the presentation to share her views on the state of cyber security in the UN and answer questions together with UN CITO, Bernardo Mariano Joaquim Junior. 

The presentation at the General Assembly underscored the value of the JIU’s recommendations with the goal to actively share the findings across the UN family.

Photo: UNHCR

UN Partner Portal – New Members, New Growth, New Capabilities

Harmonized, Efficient and Easy Collaboration between Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and their UN Partners

We need to come together and explore every avenue to keep children learning and help them through this difficult time. With such initiatives like the learning hub, we are able to swiftly deploy innovative, scalable solutions for children and youth.

Fazlul Haque, UNICEF Deputy Representative, Egypt

New Members

The UN Partner Portal welcomes the UN Secretariat as the fifth UN Agency join the UN Partner Portal, together with UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR and WFP. The UN Secretariat’s DESA, OCHA, OHCHR, UN Habitat, UNEP and UNODC offices and departments will be working with UN Partner Portal (with more offices to come).

The Portal also welcomes the 5327 new CSOs (with 1498 CFEIs, Call for Expression of Interests already in place) joining over the past year, bringing the total to 18,877 CSOs.

UNFPA is ready to migrate its partners into the UNPP and is ready to take its partnerships to a whole new level of integration, optimisation and growth.

Nicole Kim, Programme Specialist, UNFPA

The UN Secretariat, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP, with operational support from UNICC, have joined forces to deliver the UN Partner Portal, a platform for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to engage with the UN on partnership opportunities. The UN Partner Portal is designed to facilitate a harmonised, efficient and easy collaboration between the UN and its partners.​

Many of the new capabilities at the UN Partner Portal website, including the new website design and News Centre, were delivered by UNICC Application Delivery and Communications teams.

The UN Partner Portal is simplifying and strengthening UN partnership processes. By choosing the right Partners, we can better support projects and programs, achieve better results and be that much closer to reaching our goals, making life better for everyone everywhere.

New Growth

It’s been a busy year at the UN Partner Portal with 4766 projects, 2313 projects completed, with over 1600 COVID projects alone.

Credit: UNICC

UNICEF, UNHCR and WFP are creating and completing projects at record numbers, with UNFPA and the UN Secretariat now starting.

Credit: UNICC

New Capabilities

New Features include needed changes for UNFPA to invite NGO partners, ‘UN Type’ and ‘Government’ type for Agency members with permissions to register and new filters to enable Agency members to perform due diligence on Partners that have completed verification.

New Website Look and Feel

The Portal website has undergone some changes that benefit both CSOs and UN Agencies, with published branding guidelines and a two-phased project to modernize its look and feel, branding updates to main page, About UN Partner Portal page, Resources page and News Centre for success stories. The Partnerships Opportunities area also has new filters to make it easier to find, filter and sort Opportunities.

Visit our new News Centre for recent partnership success stories.

About the UN Partner Portal

Benefits

The development of the UN Partner Portal draws on decades of successful partnerships between the UN and civil society, consultations with networks of NGOs, as well as best practices in partnership management, to support the harmonisation and simplification of business processes. Benefits include:

  • Learning more about UN partnership processes​​
  • Registering and creating online profiles once that can be accessed by multiple UN Agencies
  • Viewing partnership opportunities from multiple UN Agencies​​
  • Submitting concept notes to UN Agencies for funding consideration.

Features​

  • CSO partnership opportunities posted by multiple UN Agencies in a single location
  • CSO Partner profiles to alert UN Agencies of CSO field presence
  • Harmonised CSO Partner declaration accepted by all UN Agencies
  • CSO Partner concept notes (both solicited and unsolicited) reviewed by UN Agencies
  • Reduced timelines for CSO partnership selection and processing
  • CSO partnership data and metrics on partnership practices
  • UN Agencies verification and risk profiles of prospective partners
  • Key Partner profile data extraction for UN Agency analysis.

The Portal is designed to encourage harmonization within the UN and it is expected that more UN Agencies and their associated Partners will join the Portal in the near future.

The Portal also represents the efforts of UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP to implement the 2016 World Humanitarian Summits’ Grand Bargain commitments to reduce duplication and management costs and enhance partnerships with local and national actors.

There’s a reference to the UN Partner Portal in Independent Review of the Grand Bargain at Five Years: “Launched in November 2018, the creation and roll-out of the UN Partner Portal has been impressive” (Page 71,72).

UN Partner Portal teams have a continuous improvement approach, where feedback from UN Agencies and CSO users is important. We ran a survey over January 2021 to gather comments about features, functionalities and use of the platform.

UN Partner Portal Promotional Video

CSOs Overview

UN Agencies Overview