Partnership story

Archived content.

UNICRI Creating Public-Private Cooperation Platforms for Protecting Vulnerable Targets


By: Ines Ferro Ribeiro and Brian Powrie, UNICRI

Cooperation between the public and private sectors has the potential to be highly beneficial in promoting the protection of people and places, with special regard to vulnerable targets. The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) is currently exploring this potential by developing several initiatives and flagship projects.

These projects bring together public authorities and private sector stakeholders to enhance the protection of vulnerable targets such as tourist and historical places, financial or commercial areas and other crowded places or mass gatherings. UNICRI’s approach is based on the UN Counter Terrorism Strategy and is built on the assumption that, while responsibility for security belongs to State authorities, the protection of the multitude of vulnerable targets all around the world requires an active participation both of the business community and civil society. The value of involving non-state actors is increasingly recognized and building trust between all stakeholders has proven to be an essential component in achieving this goal.

In line with UNICRI’s role within the UN Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force CTITF), UNICRI elaborated the first Handbook to Assist the Establishment of Public-Private Partnerships to protect Vulnerable Targets, produced by public and private sector representatives from all around the world. With the aim of testing the applicability of the Handbook, UNICRI has developed, in cooperation with relevant public authorities, a public-private partnership project to prevent crime and enhance security in financial facilities in Portugal. The project was designed by UNICRI within the framework of a cooperative project which involved a number of key companies in the country. The aim of this new initiative is to create the bases for information exchange amongst all stakeholders involved so as to prevent possible criminal activities and to enhance the overall perception of security in different urban areas.

In parallel, UNICRI assisted Portugal’s Higher Institute of Police Science and Internal Security to build the necessary institutional capacity to design and run a training course on public-private partnerships for the protection of vulnerable targets which was tailored for Portuguese private sector security directors. The objective of this pioneering initiative was twofold: to establish synergies between public authorities and security managers responsible for the protection of potential targets owned by the business community and to enhance private sector capabilities in the field of prevention. Additional courses in Portugal are currently being planned to meet the significant demand generated by previous activities. Evaluations conducted indicate that 96 percent of all participants were either available and/or willing to participate in future editions. Jose Ferreira de Oliveira, Chief Superintendent of the Higher Institute of Police Sciences said, “We are certain that this initiative represents a reference of excellence for business community security in Portugal and elsewhere and we are dedicated to maintaining this partnership.” Presently, UNICRI is assessing the viability of running such courses in other countries and linguistic blocks around the world.

With the aim of implementing these flagship projects and to serve as a policy tool for the development of future initiatives in this area, UNICRI has launched the program “Public-Private Security Policies Centre”, which is based in Lisbon, Portugal. The Centre is itself the product of an innovative public-private partnership approach and works to develop, test and promote, at the international level, the most effective cooperation models. Águas de Portugal, Banco Espírito Santo, Banco BPI, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, CTT, Galp Energia, Grupo 8, Millennium BCP, Motorola, Refer and REN compose the Centre’s consortium of private sector benefactors and each member of this open-ended group provides support either financially or through in-kind contributions.

UNICRI’s Centre in Lisbon will further enhance its strategy to continue to meet the terms of the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy which encourages public and private sector co-operation in capacity building programs. In this framework UNICRI will identify and share best practices to contribute to the prevention of terrorist attacks against vulnerable targets and other critical infrastructure elements.

Bringing together all available resources and expertise from the private and public sector, and creating trust between different stakeholders are key elements in the achievement of the common goal of protecting vulnerable targets. Achieving this will result in making targets less vulnerable and in promoting people’s fundamental right to freedom and security.

For more information, please contact Ms. Inȇs Ferro Ribeiro