Publication of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Duty of Care to Seconded Civilian Personnel

26.04.2017

ZIF supports the development of a common understanding and approach to implement the Duty of Care to seconded civilian personnel in multilateral peace operations. The Voluntary Guidelines on the Duty of Care to Seconded Civilian Personnel have just been published – a guide for seconding and staff-receiving organizations.

These Voluntary Guidelines on the Duty of Care to Seconded Civilian Personnel represent a milestone in the development of a common understanding of Duty of Care and are intended to assist seconding and staff-receiving organizations to define their respective rights and obligations in the field of Duty of Care.

What means Duty of Care in the context of multilateral peace operations?

The answer to this question is now given by a guiding document, developed by a Duty of Care expert on behalf and with the participation of different seconding and staff-receiving organizations. These Voluntary Guidelines on the Duty of Care to Seconded Civilian Personnel are intended to assist seconding and staff-receiving organizations to define their respective rights and obligations in the field of Duty of Care. The guidelines are structured around five standards which are raising questions these organizations need to consider in order to fulfill their Duty of Care:

  1. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: What are the relevant national and international legal and regulatory requirements to the health, safety and security of secondees?
  2. Safety and Security Risk Management: What kind of information does a seconding organization need to know about the safety and security risk management of a peace operation to second staff with good conscience?
  3. Informed Consent: What kind of information do seconding and staff-receiving organizations need to provide to seconded personnel in order to allow the secondee to make an informed decision about being deployed?
  4. Competent Workforce: What kind of experience, skills and competencies do seconded personnel need to bring along in order to contribute to the success of a mission?
  5. Quality Management: How can seconding and staff-receiving organizations continually work on improving processes and measures for the benefit of their personnel?

How did the Guidelines evolve?

The development of these guidelines followed the exchange within the framework of the Duty of Care Roundtable, an event format that ZIF introduced together with the German Federal Foreign Office in 2014. The Roundtable provided the framework for a dialogue between seconding states, their national seconding organizations like ZIF and the staff-receiving multilateral organizations OSCE, EU and UN. The Roundtable became an annual event ZIF organized jointly with its partners such as the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the British Stabilisation Unit (SU).

The participating institutions quickly became aware of the need to develop a common understanding of Duty of Care and the underlying rights and obligations. At the initiative of FDFA and with the collaboration of SU and ZIF, the Duty of Care expert Maarten Merkelbach drafted Duty of Care guidelines for the special context of secondment to peace operations. This draft was presented at the 3rd Duty of Care Roundtable in London in November 2016 and discussed with representatives of seconding states, their seconding organizations and multilateral organizations (AU, EU, UN, OSCE, NATO).

A total of seven institutions and organizations decided to support the publication of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Duty of Care to Seconded Civilian Personnel by their logo: Crisis Management Centre (Finland), Folke Bernadotte Academy (Sweden), the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, OSCE, SU, FDFA and ZIF.

For ZIF, these guidelines are of particular importance on the way to become a full-fledged seconding organization. It reaffirms the national requirements for the Duty of Care which ZIF will take over as an employer of the German seconded civilian personnel to multilateral peace operations. Already now, ZIF offers a wide range of services for personnel welfare before, during and after the deployment of German civilian experts, seconded by the German Federal Foreign Office.