This article informs on one of the features that distinguish security management in international organizations from security management in other sectors, namely: the diplomatic sensitivities within the structure and operations of these organizations that unavoidably weigh in on decisions surrounding security and crisis response
For those of a different sector, the term "international organization" implies structural characteristics such as extra-territoriality, a purposively multicultural workforce and not-for-profit activity with societal goals.
Our platform for discussion is the premise that in most international organizations, any practice that may be interpreted as offensive to a member or hosting state is viewed as a cardinal sin. From a security management perspective, what do you think might be some of the operational implications of this?
A first example: a client comes to you as security manager with concerns about his upcoming business trip to the fictitious country of Postonia. In addition to providing this client with basic travel security training, you will obviously need to more specifically communicate the threat actors and risk types in the country. However, there are Postonian nationals in the organization, representing their Government who contributes to organizational membership financially and in kind. How might be the best way to diplomatically and effectively communicate the more negative characteristics of Postonia to your client?
Let's turn to another example, this time in relation to emergency evacuation. Violence has erupted between military components and anti-Government insurgents in the fictitious island of Kai, very near to your organization's regional office, which is hosted by the local Government. Your office consisted of 12 international staff and 34 local Kaians, most of which reside in the immediate surroundings. You have managed to secure a craft at a nearby airfield with ample capacity. If you evacuate and close your office, how might this impact upon your relationship with the Government of Kai (let alone your business continuity)? How do you deal with your responsibility for the security of local staff, bearing in mind that as citizens of the host country they cannot be evacuated internationally?
One final example to close off this article. Human Resources has contacted you to undertake due diligence and assurance checks on a prospective recruit from the underdeveloped and war-torn fictitious country of Seña. You are accountable for your counsel but there are few avenues to conduct due diligence in Seña - even criminal records are unobtainable or lack credibility, as is often the case. Adding additional pressure, the Organization strongly supports the recruitment of this person in line with their policy of inclusion, diversity and equality. How do you both deliver your expected output and maintain your professional credibility?
These relatively simplistic scenarios illustrate but a few of the unique challenges that face security managers of international organizations as a result of the diplomatic sensitivities within their structure and operations.
Your security manager should have the soft skills, tact, maturity and foresight to know their way around these issues and, as in any other sector, should be able to demonstrate their value add through sound metrics and tangible results.