Working at the United Nations
The vast majority of UN staff come under the UN Secretariat. They work, among others, at the Secretariat's headquarters in New York and its sub-head offices in Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi, as well as at the many UN offices around the world. In addition, the UN system consists of the funds and programmes (such as UNICEF and UNDP), the specialist organisations (such as UNESCO) and other related organisations (such as IAEA).
An overview of the structure of the UN system can be found here.
Categories of personnel
The United Nations offers a wide range of employment opportunities for all profiles and levels. A distinction is made between the following five categories of personnel:
- Professional and higher categories (P and D): university positions in management, economic and social development, peace and security, ICT, communication, etc.
- General services and related categories (G, TC, S, PIA and LT): supporting roles in the fields of administration, security, building maintenance, etc.
- National professional staff (NO): university roles for nationals of the country in which the relevant UN institution is located.
- Field staff (FS): are usually deployed as part of peacekeeping operations.
- Senior appointments (SG, DSG, USG and ASG): the highest management positions (e.g. Secretary-General and head of department).
Detailed information about the different categories can be found here.
An extensive overview of UN vacancies can be found on the UN Careers website.
However, the list of vacancies on the UN Careers website is non-exhaustive. This is because specialist UN organisations, funds and programmes often use specific selection procedures. Vacancies can be found on the website of the organisation concerned.
Specific information on employment in peacekeeping operations can be found on the UN Peacekeeping website.
The metasearch engine https://unjobs.org/ offers the most comprehensive overview of UN vacancies. You will also find vacancies from NGOs and other international organisations. However, this is not an official UN website. The FPS cannot guarantee the accuracy of the data and recommends using this site with caution.
For starting professionals, there are several possibilities for building up professional experience within the United Nations.
- Work placement opportunities:
For students and recent graduates, there are plenty of opportunities for doing an internship at the United Nations. Internships are unpaid and last two to six months. More information about the programming can be found here.
- UN volunteers:
UN Volunteers, the UN Volunteers Programme, is managed by the UN Development Programme (UNDP). UN volunteers are deployed all over the world in development, humanitarian aid and the promotion of human rights and democracy. They receive a modest monthly allowance for this. You can find more information on the UN Volunteers website.
- Junior Professional Officer (JPO):
The United Nations JPO Programme provides an opportunity for young experts to gain experience in a number of UN organisations. Belgium finances the programme by employing a number of JPOs each year at the following organisations: FAO, UNDP, ILO, UNHCR, UNRWA, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNAIDS, WHO, UN WOMEN, UNEP, IOM and WFP. Candidates must have a university education and at least two years' relevant work experience. The age limit is 32 years. Vacancies and information about the selection procedure for the JPO programme can be found here.
For candidates who are shortlisted following a selection procedure for a P or D post, it may be useful to make their candidacy known to the FPS Foreign Affairs, United Nations Directorate (firstname.lastname@example.org).