Global Guidance for Meetings During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The Division of Healthcare Management and Occupational Safety and Health (DHMOSH) has prepared guidance for organizers and meeting participants with key information for meetings in light of the current outbreak of corona virus disease (COVID-19) spreading globally. The guide is also availed in French and should be reviewed and adapted in conjunction with local health authorities’ and WHO country office advice.

For organisers:      English     French

For participants:    English     French


The Planning and Coordination Section (PCS) acts as the focal point for and coordinates conference logistics and related client services and financial functions, in addition to the information technology initiatives and systems related to United Nations meetings in Nairobi and Africa. First and foremost, it assesses conference-servicing needs and plans and coordinates the conference services of UNEP and UN-Habitat and other United Nations system organizations stationed at Nairobi, on the basis of approved mandates and meeting requests and availability of capacity in terms of conference-servicing resources at UNON and other headquarters; assisting them in formulating those needs in the most cost-effective manner.


The Section has 30 staff members. The various resources and services provided by the Section include the following:

* Premises and facilities (including reservation and preparation of meeting rooms)
* Conference equipment installation and operation
* Conference officers and assistants
* Information technology support
* Technical assistants
* Assistance in organizing accommodation, catering and transportation services

* Costing of meetings and detailed financial reports of actual costs

The main services are listed on a meetings request form. PCS not only plans and services meetings held in Nairobi but also coordinates the servicing of meetings at other locations.

PCS maintains statistical records of conference-servicing activities and provides substantive and technical secretariat services for meetings.

Procedures for requesting conference services
UNON conference facilities are reserved on a first come, first served basis. Accordingly, clients and potential clients are advised to contact PCS early and book their meetings well ahead of time to reserve adequate meeting rooms and other facilities. Early booking also gives PCS enough time to consult widely with other sections of the Division and other service providers to secure competitive prices. Late requests often result in higher costs or in the inability of PCS to provide the services required no matter what price the client may be prepared to pay, as it shares a limited pool of qualified personnel with other United Nations organizations worldwide. The procedures for requesting conference services are set out here.

1. Obtain a meetings request form either from the PCS offices located in the R-Block or from the DCS website: (For requests relating to editing, translation and reproduction work, please refer to the section on the Documents Control Unit

2. Fill out the form completely.

3. Submit the form to the PCS Meetings Coordination Unit for consideration and processing (bearing in mind the rule established by the General Assembly that pre-session documents for an official meeting must be submitted for processing at least 10 weeks before the meeting and distributed to meeting participants at least six weeks before the meeting).

4. PCS will consult the providers of the required services within and outside the Division before returning the form to the client with an estimate of the cost of the requested services based on a price list that is available upon request. At this juncture, the client may negotiate with PCS regarding some items (cost, number of staff, deadlines, dispatch dates, etc.).

5. On the basis of the services selected and costed, PCS will prepare a draft service level agreement or memorandum of understanding enumerating all the services that the Division will render to the client.

6. Once agreement has been reached by both parties (the client and PCS) on the provision of the requested services and their cost, the cost estimate and the memorandum are signed by both parties and returned to PCS for follow-up.

7. United Nations agencies are required to obligate the total estimated cost of the meeting and provide PCS with the obligation document number at least one month before the date after which the necessary preparations will begin. In the case of meetings requiring contribution by a host Government, PCS will estimate the amount of the contribution that must be paid in full at least three months before the meeting starts. After the meeting a detailed financial statement is prepared and any excess cost is invoiced to the party; any excess funds received are refunded.

Services relating to processing of documentation

Documents submission
The Documents Control Unit (DCU) is the focal point for matters involving the processing of documentation. All manuscripts, if they are to become official documents, must pass through DCU for recording and tracking purposes. DCU is responsible for the following:

* Acting as the intermediary between submitting offices and the Translation and Editorial Section, and also the Publishing Services Section

* Establishing clear guidelines for documentation submission

* Receiving and verifying document forecasts and preparing production statistics

* Negotiating with author departments on their documentation requirements, which must be balanced against workload and capacity in sections that will work on the documents

* Reviewing all manuscripts from originating departments to ensure that they meet approved editorial and technical standards and approving manuscripts for processing

* Registering manuscripts and transmitting them to appropriate units for processing

* Monitoring the processing of all documents and publications to ensure timely and simultaneous distribution

* Establishing word and page counts on the basis of which charges for document-related services are computed

* Providing document control functions and remote transmission services for meetings held outside Nairobi

To be effective, a forecast should provide:
* Complete list of documents to be submitted for processing during the period concerned, including their titles
* Estimated total number of pages of the documents
* Original language of each document and the languages into which it is to be translated
* Estimated date on which each document will be submitted to DCS and the date it is to be issued
* Title and dates of the meeting for which the documents are required
* List of any existing documents to be reproduced and referenced by DCS

Documentation forecasting
Forecasting is the first step in the documentation process. Its purpose is to establish the client’s future service requirements so that they can be incorporated into work schedules. While submission of forecasts is the responsibility of the submitting office, DCU is always available to provide advice and assistance.


Types of forecasts
Documentation workload forecast: Submitted twice a year, this covers the periods January–June and July–December and contains global information on the submission of documents prepared for the consideration of intergovernmental bodies, as well as publications, in a specific sector for a six-month period.

Documentation checklist and forecast form: Contains specific and detailed information on the pre-session documentation for a particular meeting, seminar, workshop or conference. It should be submitted three months in advance of the opening of the meeting.

In-session documents forecast: Contains a list of documents to be submitted during a meeting, indicating, where possible, an order of priority.

Publications programme: Includes various types of material such as periodicals, brochures, pamphlets and studies that are designed to inform the public on specific issues or United Nations activities.

N.B. While it is understood that needs may change with time, any serious deviation from a forecast – for example, submission of documents that have not been projected or are much longer than indicated – will have consequences not only for the document in question but also for all documents to be processed. For this reason, forecasts must be as accurate and complete as possible.

Upon receipt of a forecast, DCU will review it with a view to balancing the stated requirements against its projected capacity in all document-processing areas. Once finalized, the forecast serves as a service agreement between the submitting office and DCU.

Document submission process
All document to be processed by DCU (editing, translation and reproduction work) must be submitted in both soft (Word and PDF format) and hard copy. They should be accompanied by a D-1 “request for document services” form, which may be generated from iDCPMS (integrated Documents Control and Productivity Management System) or from the DCS website or obtained in hard copy from DCU.

Documents to be processed by DCU should be prepared using Microsoft Word 2000 or Word XP and PDF Acrobat and Excel only.

Graphic material (graphs, charts, maps, photographs, etc.) that forms part of a document should be submitted in digital form in a format that can be imported into Microsoft Word. It is absolutely essential, especially when a document is to be translated, to provide any background data used to create graphs or charts.

DCU is responsible for forwarding the work to the appropriate section or department for action. The steps in the procedure are as follows:

The submitting office submits the documents that it needs processed to DCU, along with a D-1 form including all relevant information.

DCU ascertains whether the work can be done within the proposed deadline and, once a date has been agreed with the submitting office, forwards the documents to the relevant section for editing, translation and revision, or for reproduction.

N.B. Officers in submitting departments are requested to refrain from contacting translation and text-processing units or the reproduction section directly. Similarly, submitting offices are requested not to submit corrections directly to translation and text-processing units or to the reproduction section. Furthermore, corrections to documents after they have been submitted to DCU (or after they have been cleared by the client following editing) will result in higher charges and will be reflected in the submission date. Alternatively the document will be corrected by the issuance of a corrigendum.

Once the documents have been edited, they are returned to the submitting office for clearance, after which any mutually agreed changes are incorporated and the document is finalized and sent for translation, where applicable, and for distribution.

DCU then establishes an invoice on the basis of a word or page count and notifies the submitting office of the same for payment.

Contact persons
If you have questions or need further information, please contact the following:

Mr. Francisco Vasquez
Chief, Meetings Planning Unit
Tel.: +254 (0)20 762 3397

Mr. Bo Sorensen
Chief, Documents Control Unit
Tel.: +254 (0)20 762 2523

Mr. Malcolm Attard
Chief, Information Technology Unit

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