UNSCO - The Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

UNSCO represents the Secretary-General and leads the UN system in all political and diplomatic efforts related to the peace process, including in the Middle East Quartet. UNSCO also coordinates the humanitarian and development work of UN agencies and programmes in the occupied Palestinian territory, in support of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is deeply committed to peace in the Middle East. The UN works for the creation of an independent State of Palestine living side-by-side in peace with the State of Israel, and a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, in accordance with relevant UN resolutions and international law.

UNSCO History

The first United Nations Special Coordinator was appointed and the office of UNSCO established in June 1994 following the signing of the Oslo Accord. The aim was to enhance the involvement of the United Nations during the transition process, and to strengthen UN inter-agency cooperation to respond to the needs of the Palestinian people, mobilizing financial, technical, economic and other assistance.

In 1999, UNSCO's mandate was enhanced. It became the Office of the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, as well as the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. The Special Coordinator was charged with boosting United Nations development assistance in support of the peace process. Additionally the Special Coordinator represented the Secretary-General in discussions relating to the peace process with the parties and the international community.

Since 2002, the Special Coordinator has been the Secretary-General’s envoy in the Middle East Quartet, comprising the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the United States of America, the European Union and the Russian Federation. The Quartet launched the Road Map in 2003.

The integration of UN work was further strengthened in 2006, when a Deputy Special Coordinator, Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator was appointed to lead the United Nations country team, consisting of 21 UN organizations providing humanitarian and development assistance to Palestinians.

UNSCO is a field office under the auspices of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and works in close consultation with its relevant counterparts.

Structured to respond in a rapid, effective and coordinated manner to requests by the parties, the office is mandated to assist in all issues related to the humanitarian situation and development challenges facing the Palestinian people. In addition, the office supports negotiations and the implementation of political agreements. UNSCO provides a well-recognized focal point within the United Nations system vis-à-vis the parties to the peace process, regional and international actors, and international and multilateral institutions.

Office Organization

UNSCO has offices in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza, and a roving regional presence, and is divided into three units:

The Regional Affairs Unit: The unit advises the Special Coordinator and the Deputy Special Coordinator on political and diplomatic issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Middle East peace process, including in his capacity of the UN envoy to the Middle East Quartet. The RAU develops UNSCO’s relationship with the parties, as well as regional and international partners, facilitating dialogue and negotiations and the implementation of agreements, and briefing relevant actors on developments. RAU is responsible for producing timely and comprehensive analyses of political developments and trends, providing them as guidance to the UN system as it relates to the Middle East peace process. The Unit also provides regular inputs for Security Council briefings, public statements and briefings by the Secretary-General and the Special Coordinator – including in their roles in the Middle East Quartet -- as well as information and analysis for senior decision-makers in the UN system. Additionally the unit provides technical assistance for the organization of free, fair and transparent Palestinian elections.

In addition to its main office in Jerusalem, the RAU has offices in Ramallah and Gaza. Its team of political affairs officers maintain continuous engagement with a broad range of Palestinian, Israeli and international interlocutors, including political figures, government officials, security authorities, civil society organizations, think tanks, academic institutions, and relevant representatives from embassies and consulates.

The Coordination Unit: The unit advises the Special Coordinator and the Deputy Special Coordinator/Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator on humanitarian and development aid coordination issues.  Through support to the Deputy Speciality Coordinator/Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator, the unit works to enhance coordination and coherence with the UN Country Team which composed of over 24 UN Agencies including through the development and implementation of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework and common UN approaches and policies as they relate to development programming. It also engages with the donor community, the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Israel, international community, and civil society on the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of aid policies and programming.  The unit provides a combination of coordination services and policy assessments and contributes to regular reporting such as quarterly-socio economic reports, Security Council briefings, and reports to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee. It represents the United Nations system at both the international and local levels, giving it the ability to provide assessments of the situation on the ground, mobilize donor funds, and advise donors on key policy decisions.

Its team of Coordination Officers maintain continuous engagement with a broad range of interlocutors, including Palestinian and Israel government officials, members of the international community, civil society organizations, think tanks and academic institutions. Staff are based in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza offices. 

The Media Unit: The unit advises the Special Coordinator and the Deputy Special Coordinator on media and public information issues. It supports UNSCO’s mission by raising the public profile of the Special Coordinator through its work with a variety of media outlets. The unit disseminates the Special Coordinator’s position on a variety of issues related to the political situation in the region, through media interviews, briefings for journalists, and contacts with lobby groups, and civil society organizations. The unit keeps the Special Coordinator and UNSCO staff updated on relevant developments in the media through comprehensive press digests and media monitoring.

The Mission Support Unit: The Unit Mission support components of UNSCO comprises Administration, Budget, Finance, Human Resources, General Services (Logistics), Communications & Information Technology, Transport, and Security.