Vulnerable Populations Lead

Applications procedure
Related Files
    Personnel Service Agreement (PSA)
    New York, USA
    UTC -4

    About United Nations University

    For the past four decades, United Nations University (UNU) has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on the pressing global problems of human survival, conflict prevention, development and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 13 countries, UNU’s work spans the full breadth of the 17 SDGs, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.

    United Nations University Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR)

    United Nations University Centre for Policy Research in New York is an independent think tank within the United Nations system. The Centre combines research excellence with deep knowledge of the multilateral system to generate innovative solutions to current and future global public policy challenges.

    The Centre comprises social and data scientists and UN practitioners. It has a successful track record of international multi-stakeholder partnerships, and has launched pioneering work in several thematic areas, including modern slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and child labour (Sustainable Development Goals Target 8.7). For more information on UNU-CPR and its work, please visit

    The FAST Inititative

    The FAST initiative was launched in mid-2018 as a public-private partnership in response to calls from the G7, the G20 and the United Nations General Assembly to mobilise the private sector in the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking. In under two years, the initiative has already had substantial impact, having trained thousands of financial sector professionals in more than 130 countries, mobilised institutional investors with more than USD 8 trillion assets under management to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking, developed risk analysis tools for the sector, and provided input into a range of multilateral and regulatory policy processes. It has also organised a coalition of banks and survivor support organisations to provide survivors with improved access to financial services.

    Owing to the generous support of FAST donors, the project has been extended by a further three years and is successfully poised for growth.

    The position

    The UNU Centre for Policy Research is looking for a dedicated and creative Vulnerable Populations Lead to oversee the project’s research related to populations at high-risk of modern slavery. This is a newly created position as part of this growing project.

    This workstream investigates the new frontiers of vulnerability and takes into account the exacerbation of vulnerabilities owing to COVID19. It will include policy-relevant academic contributions and insights targeted to policymakers and the financial sector. This workstream considers the effectiveness of past interventions and aims to identify new approaches that can disrupt pathways into slavery and human trafficking by giving vulnerable populations better access to safe and reliable financial products and services. Insights will be channeled to financial sector partners, governments and multilateral institutions, CSO and survivor support organisations.

    Over the next three years (2021-2023), the Vulnerable Populations Lead will work closely with the FAST Project Director and the other two workstream leads to implement a programme of work that aligns with donor expectations and ambitions. The Vulnerable Populations Lead will be responsible for shaping activities to meet the workstream objective to identify high risk populations and to provide research insights that point to effective interventions by the financial sector that contribute to reducing vulnerability in these populations.

    About you

    You are an experienced researcher with a detailed knowledge of modern slavery risks – including human trafficking and forced labour – and interventions developed to provide opportunities to vulnerable populations. You are familiar with financial inclusion programmes, sector-specific risk profiles and regulatory changes that reduce or create vulnerability to modern slavery. You will have excellent knowledge of local and international efforts to address modern slavery, and best practices in research.

    You have experience working closely with vulnerable populations and a creative, inclusive approach to working with survivors of modern slavery, ensuring their perspectives are included in the design of FAST projects, research and interventions. You have a proven track record of conducting action-oriented research with a view to influencing policy. You thrive in innovative and purpose-oriented settings and are committed to diversity, equality, and building a workplace that values excellence, empathy, and individual growth equally.

    You are proactive and motivated by the prospect of collaborating with the rich constellation of public and private partnerships developed by the UNU Centre for Policy Research to be part of a bold and impactful programme of work that will extend the capacity of financial institutions, governments and other key stakeholders to reduce the prevalence of modern slavery.

    Responsibilities and deliverables

    The Vulnerable Populations Lead will report to the FAST Project Director and will be expected to:

    • lead the FAST programme of work related to vulnerable populations, building on existing research, and ensuring future activities align with donor priorities
    • collaborate with other members of the FAST project team, including the workstream Leads for the Government Sector and Financial Sector, to leverage insights about vulnerable populations relevant to government and multilateral institutions and investment and banking
    • conduct and commission innovative research on COVID-19 and broader socio-economic change to explore how these phenomena impact vulnerability to modern slavery and human trafficking, incorporating the views of business, financial actors, and high-risk populations
    • study financial interventions for vulnerable populations and assess their effectiveness to ultimately improve the financial resilience of vulnerable populations
    • disseminate findings for (a) governments and multilateral organisations; (b) financial sector actors; and (c) civil society organisations
    • support efforts that broaden access to financial services for survivors, notably, by linking survivor support organisations and financial institutions, promoting financial literacy, and disseminating best practices
    • participate in meetings and conferences that support FAST outreach, coalition-building, and the dissemination of findings, including an annual implementation review conference
    • perform other duties as required by the FAST Project Director

    Required qualifications and experience

    Required qualifications and experience include:

    • an advanced university degree in a relevant field, including but not limited to sociology, political science, international relations, human rights, and public policy
    • minimum of five years (seven preferable) of relevant work experience, ideally including relevant leadership experience
    • demonstrable experience conducting research on vulnerable populations and feeding this evidence into public policy
    • expert knowledge of issues in the areas of vulnerable populations, modern slavery, human trafficking, child labour and forced labour, and business and human rights
    • excellent analytical and conceptual thinking skills
    • familiarity with statistics, data analysis, and research methodologies
    • exceptional interpersonal and problem-solving skills demonstrated by the ability to work in a multi-cultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity and gender parity
    • superior English-language oral and written communication skills; knowledge of another official UN language(s) is desirable
    • past experience working in or collaborating with governments and multilateral institutions or the financial sector is advantageous

    UNU is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities to apply and become part of the organisation.

    UNU has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNU, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination.

    Remuneration and entitlements

    Remuneration will be between USD 90,000 – USD 110,000, per annum based on the candidate’s qualifications and experience.

    Annual leave entitlement of 2.5 days/month (30 days/year) and some limited benefits, including health care, are included.

    Duration of contract

    The successful candidate shall work under an initial 1-year Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract, with the possibility of renewal subject to satisfactory performance and external funding.

    The successful candidate will not hold international civil servant status nor be a “staff member” as defined in the United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations.


    New York-based, with possibility of starting remotely.

    Starting date

    1 August 2021 or sooner.

  • Interested applicants should submit their application and all required documents listed below online through Impactpool by 16 May 2021 and include the following:

    • a cover letter setting out how your qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position
    • a curriculum vitae
    • full contact information of three (3) references
    • an indication of the reference number of the vacancy announcement (2021/UNU/CPR/PSA/VPL/FAST/33)