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Saving Lives Together (SLT): FAQs

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9 August 2021

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Saving Lives Together (SLT): FAQs

Saving Lives Together (SLT) is an initiative to enhance security collaboration between the UN Security Management System (UNSMS), International Non-governmental Organisations (INGOs) and International Organisations (IOs). It recognises the existence of collectively experienced security threats and the importance of collaboration to support the safe delivery of humanitarian and development assistance.

The primary objective of SLT is to enhance the ability of organisations to make informed decisions based on shared information and knowledge. This is intended to empower counterpart organisations to better manage risks and implement effective security arrangements to enable the delivery of assistance, improve the security of humanitarian personnel and support continuity of operations. As such, SLT should be viewed as a tool to support existing activities in partner organisations rather than a substitute for in-house analysis and security risk management.

To engage with SLT, organisations must commit to the adoption and effective implementation of the principles, objectives and arrangements in the SLT Framework.

The SLT Framework and Guidelines are available in English, French and Spanish

It is important to remember that SLT is a partnership, not a service provided by UNDSS. To this end, SLT counterpart organisations commit to:

    • Establish security collaboration arrangements
    • Share relevant security information
    • Cooperate on security training
    • Cooperate on security operation and logistics arrangements, where feasible
    • Identify resource requirements for enhancing security coordination between the UN, INGOS, and IOs
    • Consult on common ground rules for humanitarian action

Introduction to Saving Lives Together

This short video provides an introduction to Saving Lives Together (SLT), where it comes from, how it works today and what it offers for security risk management in the humanitarian sector. It is ideal for training programmes, team meetings, and other events where staff safety and security is being discussed as well as for individual learning.

The SLT framework was established in 2005 by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) to improve cooperation on security issues between the United Nations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and international organizations (IOs) that are implementing and/or operational partners of the United Nations. Following extensive consultations, UN OCHA, UNDSS, and UNDP jointly issued, in October 2015, a revised Saving Lives Together (SLT) Framework building on previous iterations.

This video serves to raise awareness and increase the understanding among field practitioners for information sharing, coordination, and collaboration in Security Risk Management (SRM). It takes a comprehensive approach covering all aspects of the SLT Framework and answers the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The ultimate objective of this video is to address knowledge gaps and misconceptions while broadening access and increasing engagement with SLT among field operators.

The target audience for this video is NGO security professionals, Area/ Field Coordinators, Emergency Response Managers, Country Directors, NGO Forum Representatives, Senior NGO Leadership at HQ with operational positions and their counterparts in UN agencies.

This video was produced with the support of RSM Consulting, a GISF Business Partner.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the tangible benefits of SLT?

At a local level, this changes from country to country but the primary benefit is greater information sharing on security issues across INGOs, IOs and the UN agencies, it also provides access to UN Safe and Secure Approaches in Field Environments (SSAFE) trainings and other collaboration opportunities. SLT counterparts at a global level receive daily updates, access to a common online platform, as well as access to UNDSS security training. It does not include the UN providing guarantees or taking responsibility for the evacuation or relocation of INGO or IO personnel. 

What does my organisation have to do to become a counterpart of SLT at a global level?

You must be an international non-governmental organization or International Organisation (IO) to be an SLT counterpart, as well as being an implementing or operating partner of the UN. If you are interested, you can contact UNDSS or UN OCHA directly and ask to be included. For more information on what this means for an INGO contact GISF, InterAction or ICVA.

To Register your interest contact Lloyd Cederstrand on cederstrand@un.org

UNDSS offer an exchange of Letters of Understanding between UNDSS HQ and the HQ of the respective INGO or IO. This LoU confirms the commitment of the INGO / IO to the principles of SLT, but it is not obligatory for engagement with SLT at either country or HQ level. At this time the LoU offers no additional tangible benefits to the organisation than the agreement to be included as an SLT global counterpart, this may change in the future.

Does my organisation have to be a global SLT counterpart to participate at country level?

No. Who can be part of SLT at country level is determined at country level (details are included in the SLT implementation guidelines).

How is SLT with the UN organized at country level?

If there is an NGO coordination mechanism in place, whether formal or informal, security specific or more general, this is the preferred approach for implementing SLT objectives. A coordination agreement between UNDSS and an NGO forum does not preclude individual organizations from establishing their own relationship, if both sides agree.  

What does my organisation have to do to become a member of SLT at a country level?

Who can be part of SLT at country level is determined at country level. If you are a UN implementing or operational partner you are eligible to become a member of SLT. To participate at country level, you should contact UNDSS in country and ask for details on how to engage.

You do not need to be an SLT global counterpart to engage at country level. If there are any issues please contact a member of the SLT working group, e.g. GISF or InterAction.

Can national staff from an INGO engage with UNDSS and SLT?

Yes, but they must be authorised by their organisation to represent it.

If my organisation is an SLT counterpart will the UN guarantee safe haven and / or evacuation in case of an emergency?

The UN does not provide guarantees and takes no responsibility for the evacuation or relocation of INGO or IO personnel. 

However, if you are an SLT counterpart at a country level and are part of the information sharing partnership there are greater opportunities for you to discuss shared concerns and you may be asked to provide staff and location details for the UN to consider in their contingency planning.

The United Nations regularly evacuates INGO personnel. UN vehicles, UN peacekeeping and WFP aircraft are made available for the transport of INGO and IO personnel when feasible, including for medical evacuations. INGO and IO personnel will be required to sign a liability waiver when using UN vehicles or aircraft. INGOs and IOs may be required to cover costs when UN services are utilised.

If my organisation becomes an SLT counterpart organisation must we defer to UNDSS on matters of acceptable risk and assessments of threat and vulnerability?

No. SLT is designed to enhance and complement the security risk management systems of SLT partner organisations, not substitute these systems and their related arrangements.

As an SLT counterpart, will the UN be responsible for INGO or IO personnel and security risk management measures?

No. The UN, INGOs and IOs maintain full responsibility for their own organisation’s personnel and security arrangements. 

Does UNDSS conduct security risk assessments for INGO and IOs?

UNDSS may share existing assessments partially or fully with INGOs and IOs, but UNDSS security professionals will not conduct assessments specifically for INGOs or IOs as part of SLT. 

Does UNDSS conduct assessments compounds for INGOs and IOs?

UNDSS may, when feasible, conduct compound assessments for INGOs and IOs. Such assessments will be on an informal basis. UNDSS assessments can only measure the compliance of the INGO/IO compound with UN security standards and arrangements. 

My organisation is a member of GISF (and/or InterAction) but I have questions or find it difficult to engage with UNDSS in the field, what should I do?

Direct any queries or concerns to either NGO representatives gisf-director@gisf.ngo or Sean_Denson@wvi.org, or directly to the UN representatives Lloyd Cederstrand (UNDSS) at cederstrand@un.org or Joachim Schmitz (OCHA) at schmitzj@un.org.

GISF is currently working on a feedback mechanism.

Are there any financial obligations related to security collaboration under the SLT framework?

No. There are no fees or contributions for participation in SLT. SLT partner organizations are expected to cover their costs related to the regular implementation of SLT: including staff hours, communications costs, transport and accommodation for the attendance at meetings or events. 

Are there costs associated if an SLT partner organization provides assistance to another SLT partner?

In case an SLT partner organization provides logistical and/or medical support to the personnel of another SLT partner, the supplying organization may request the related costs to be reimbursed. 

Reimbursement of costs may also be required for participation in security training events, this should be determined at the time of booking with the training provider.  

What is the SLT Oversight Committee (SLT OC) and who are the members?

The SLT Oversight Committee meets up to 4 times per year and focuses on supporting the effective implementation of the SLT framework through leadership and guidance. The meetings and SLT OC membership are coordinated with, where appropriate, the global UN Security Management Team (SMT). The committee is comprised of representatives from: UNDSS, OCHA, WFP, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, and UNDP on the UN side and GISF, ICVA, InterAction, and SCHR as well as an operational NGO representative from GISF and InterAction. It is co-chaired by an NGO Representative, currently Sean Denson of World Vision (on behalf of SCHR), the GISF member representative Neil Elliot of OXFAM International, and Bill Miller, Director of Regional Operations, UNDSS.

What is the SLT Working Group (SLT WG) and who are the members?

The SLT OC is supported by an SLT working group, which meets once a month to discuss the operational aspects of the implementation of the SLT framework. The working group is comprised of representatives from: UNDSS, OCHA, WFP, GISF, InterAction, ICVA and SCHR.

SLT counterparts are encouraged to submit feedback or concerns on implementation. Feedback can be provided through any member of the SLT OC, for example gisf-director@gisf.ngo

The contacts for SLT in the UN are: Joachim Schmitz of UDSS schmitzj@un.org and Lloyd Cederstand of OCHA on cederstrand@un.org.


Saving Lives Together

The Saving Lives Together (SLT) initiative was created to provide a framework to improve collaboration between the UN Security Management System (UNSMS), International Non-governmental Organisations (INGOs) and International Organisations (IO).


Saving Lives Together Framework | English, French & Spanish

This document details the Saving Lives Together (SLT) Framework, its objective, principles and implementation. 

Saving Lives Together Implementation Guidelines | English, French & Spanish

This document contains guidelines for the implmentation of the 'Saving Lives Together' framework.