Mission structures

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Many elements of mission structures are consistent across missions, though details of reporting lines and nomenclature can vary based on the specifics of the mandate. This page describes the functions and organization of the main structures in a multidimensional peacekeeping mission.

Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General

The SRSG is the head of mission and is usually the senior UN official in the country. For large field missions, the SRSG is an official of Under-Secretary-General (USG) rank, while in smaller missions the SRSG is often an official of Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) rank.

  • Conduct and Discipline Team: Supports the head of mission on ensuring conduct and discipline in the mission, including in implementing measures to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations personnel.
  • Gender Affairs: Responsible for gender mainstreaming and ensuring gender-sensitive planning and analysis. Covers gender-based violence (distinct from conflict-related sexual violence, which falls under human rights/women's protection).

Office of the Chief of Staff

  • Joint Operations Centre: Provides integrated (civilian, military and police) situational awareness and supports mission crisis management.
  • Joint Mission Analysis Centre: Provides integrated (civilian, military and police) integrated analysis and assessments in support of mission planning and decision-making.
  • Strategic Planning Unit: Supports development of mission-wide planning documents. In most missions, the SPU also tracks the results-based budgeting framework.
  • Board of Inquiry Unit: Supports mission boards of inquiry, which are convened when there are incidents involving death, serious injury or loss or damage to property.
  • Legal: Provides internal legal support and advice.
  • Field Office Coordination: Facilitates coordination between mission headquarters and mission offices at the state/region level.
  • Best Practices: Collects best practices from across the mission and serves as interface with DPET at Headquarters to obtain best practices from other peace operations[1]

Safety and Security

Headed by a Chief Security Adviser. Often colloquially referred to as DSS, as the key officers are from the UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS). Responsible for ensuring the safety and security of all UN personnel (field mission and UN Country Team) and for supporting the SRSG in his/her role as the Designated Official (DO) responsible for the entire country under the UN Security Management System.

Public information

The public information or strategic communications section is headed by the mission spokesperson. In some missions, the mission operates a radio station (e.g. Radio Miraya in UNMISS); these are part of the public information section.

Substantive component

Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General

A multidimensional mission may have one or two deputy special representatives of the Secretary-General (DSRSG), depending on the size of the mission and complexity of the mandate. In structurally-integrated missions, one of the two DSRSGs concurrently serves as the resident coordinator and, in some cases, also the humanitarian coordinator.

The other DSRSG is usually designated the DSRSG for Political Affairs, or DSRSG(P).

Substantive offices

These are units reporting to one of the DSRSGs. With the exception of political affairs, which always reports to the DSRSG(P), the various units can report to either DSRSG depending on the specific mission.
  • Political Affairs: Responsible for mission engagement with government and political processes
  • Civil Affairs: Responsible for mission engagement with communities and local authorities
  • Electoral Affairs
  • Human Rights: Responsibilities can include monitoring, reporting and investigation. Has a dual reporting line to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Since 2015, dedicated capacities for child protection and conflict-related sexual violence have been consolidated within human rights divisions.[2]
    • Child Protection
    • Women’s Protection: Responsible for addressing conflict-related sexual violence.
  • Security Sector Reform
  • Rule of Law/Justice and Corrections
  • Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration
  • Mine Action

Military component

The military component in a multidimensional mission is headed by the Force Commander. The military component can consist of different types of military personnel, including troops, military staff officers, military observers and military liaison officers.

Force headquarters[3]

The day-to-day management of Force Headquarters is the responsibility of the Force Chief of Staff. Force Headquarters are generally arranged along the basis of the continental staff system, as follows:
  • Personnel and Administration (U-1)
  • Intelligence (U-2)
  • Operations (U-3)
  • Logistics (U-4)
  • Plans and Policy (U-5)
  • Communications (U-6)
  • Training (U-7)
  • Engineering (U-8)
  • Civil-Military Coordination (U-9)

Sector headquarters

Due to the size of the mission area, missions are generally organized into multiple sectors, each with a Sector Commander subordinate to the Force Commander. The Force Headquarters structure is often replicated at a lower level for each sector.
Note that military sectors do not always align with the organization of mission field offices.

Police component

The police component is headed by the Police Commissioner. The police component consists of individually-deployed police officers (IPOs) and, in some missions, formed police units responsible for public order maintenance. In most missions, IPOs have a training and capacity development function, though in some missions, the police component has an executive mandate and exercises law enforcement authority within the mission area.

Mission support component

The mission support structure presented below reflects the DFS guidance on mission support structures issued in September 2017[4], though some missions still follow the legacy structure and nomenclature.

The mission support component is headed by a director (D-2) or chief (D-1) of mission support responsible for the general management of the human, financial and physical resources of the mission. The Office of the DMS generally includes the aviation safety, audit response, occupational health and safety and information and records management functions.

Operations and resource management

This pillar brings together cross-cutting mission support functions.
  • Human Resources
  • Budget/Financial Resourcing and Performance
  • Field Technology (previously Geospatial, Information Technology and Telecommunications Section)
  • Mission Support Centre: The support planning function for the mission

Service delivery management

The service delivery pillar provides logistics support services to the mission.
  • Transport: manages mission vehicle fleet (only UN-owned equipment; does not cover contingent-owned equipment)
  • Aviation: manages mission air operations, including military utility helicopters.
  • Medical
  • Engineering and Facilities Maintenance
  • Life Support: Manages fuel, rations/catering and general supply.

Supply chain management

This pillar includes the supply chain planning, sourcing, delivery, return and enabling functions.
  • Property Management
  • Acquisitions Management: covers acquisition planning, requisitioning and contract performance evaluation
  • Procurement
  • Central Warehousing
  • Movement Control (MOVCON): Facilitates the movement of UN-owned equipment, contingent-owned equipment and personnel

See also


  1. A/62/593 Peacekeeping best practices
  2. A/70/357–S/2015/682, paragraph 66
  3. Force Headquarters Handbook
  4. DFS Supplementary Guidance on Mission Support Structures, 1 September 2017