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 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.
The UNSCO published a report in July 2017 titled Gaza: 10 Years Later, in which the organization explores how Hamas
has increasingly tightened its grip on power since seizing control of Gaza in 2007. The report's authors detail Hamas human rights abuses, including
restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly as well as a campaign of arbitrary arrests, harassment, torture that even lead to death in custody. To read the full report, please click here.
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. It develops UNSCO’s relationship with the parties, regional and international partners, facilitating dialogue and negotiations and the implementation of agreements, and briefing relevant actors on developments. The Regional Affairs Unit also provides political guidance to the UN system as it relates to the Middle East peace process. It provides input for Security Council briefings, public statements and briefings by the Secretary-General and the Special Coordinator, as well as information and analysis for senior decision-markers in the UN system. Additionally the unit provides technical assistance for the organization of free, fair and transparent Palestinian elections.
The Coordination Unit: The unit advises the Special Coordinator and the Deputy Special Coordinator on humanitarian and development aid coordination issues. It works closely with UN Agencies, the donor community, the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Israel and the local NGO community on the planning, monitoring and evaluation of aid policies and projects. It provides a combination of coordination services and policy assessments. 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.
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: Mission support components of UNSCO comprises Administration, Budget, Finance, Human Resources, General Services (Logistics), Communications & Information Technology, Transport, and Security.