Senior Policy Advisor and Head of Programme — Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace

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    Personnel Service Agreement (PSA)
    New York, USA
    UTC -4

    United Nations University

    The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge in furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. UNU’s mission is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations and its Member States.

    For the past four decades, UNU has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on human survival, conflict prevention, sustainable development, and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 12 countries, UNU’s work spans the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, 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. We combine research excellence with deep knowledge of the multilateral system to generate innovative solutions to current and future global public policy challenges. For more information on UNU-CPR and its work, please visit

    Position overview

    The Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace programme is a newly formed cluster of projects that includes small, bespoke policy research for senior UN policymakers as well as large, multi-year and multi-stakeholder initiatives on a range of peace, security and prevention topics.

    The projects designed in the Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace programme will take account of new trends that are redefining conflict actors and settings, as well as both UN prevention and resolution strategies; this includes, mediation, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, and protection of civilians. It also includes emerging topics such as technological disruption, disinformation, trust deficits and changing approaches to multilateral cooperation. The Programme will deliver authoritative insights into the changing nature of conflict, and practices that can sustain peace in an increasingly polarised and networked world. The Senior Policy Advisor and Head of Programme will actively partner with the UN system and Member States to assess research needs, entry points for impact, and develop a research programme and mobilise resources to deliver empirically-grounded research insights to this policy audience.

    The Head of Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace programme will provide intellectual leadership and oversight for existing projects and launch new initiatives that align with the objectives of the programme. There is significant room and appetite for innovation and to extend UNU-CPR’s already rich network of partnerships to new audiences and research groups.

    About you

    You have extensive knowledge of the UN’s conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities, including the architecture, financing and key operational actors. Recent academic literature, public opinion, and political currents related to these themes will be familiar and accessible through your networks. Your prior experience will demonstrate you have the capacity to translate empirical research findings into practical policy guidance for senior UN and government actors. You are an excellent writer capable of producing rigorous, accessible reports and mentoring staff to deliver written products of the highest quality. You have experience communicating research ideas and research findings in clear and compelling ways for diverse audiences in both closed door and large public forums.

    Over the course of your career, you will have mobilised resources to support policy research and dissemination activities in support of your own work and the work carried out by teams under your supervision. Experience conducting research in field settings and/or with human subjects is especially helpful. You are politically astute, comfortable working with civil society, scholars, and senior government representatives, charismatic and empathetic, and have a proven track-record working as a coalition-builder. 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.


    This role reports to the Director of Programmes and the Executive Director.

    The Senior Policy Advisor and Head of Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace Programme will be responsible for developing and implementing a three-year research and resource-mobilisation plan for the Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace Programme, as well as supervising and mentoring project personnel. In addition, they will be responsible for generating policy reports, op-eds, and insights for the UNU-CPR websites, as well as new media offerings that disseminate the programme’s findings to new audiences.

    Required qualifications and experience

    Required qualifications and experience include:

    • a PhD in a relevant academic discipline is strongly preferred but may be substituted by an advanced degree and a strong publication record
    • at least 10 years of relevant policy research experience, or a combination of field and research experience
    • deep knowledge and experience of the United Nations, its principal agencies, and bodies involved in peace and conflict, as well as UN-Member State dynamics
    • exceptional drafting ability and experience editing academic reports and shorter communications
    • demonstrated success in fund-raising and in managing donor relations
    • English is the working language of UNU-CPR; knowledge of other official UN language(s) is desirable
    • self-direction and the ability to establish priorities, multi-task, and report work activities in a timely and proactive manner, and work within tight timelines
    • solid interpersonal and problem-solving skills demonstrated by the ability to work in a multicultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity and gender parity

    At UNU-CPR, we value creativity, curiosity, openness, and respect. The centre is an inclusive environment welcoming of diversity, where personnel are encouraged to share experiences and perspectives, and support colleagues that challenge the status quo. It is an empowering space that offers all personnel, irrespective of status or background, the opportunity to innovate and enrich our shared community.


    The successful candidate will be employed under an international PSA contract. UNU offers an attractive compensation package including an annual net salary in the range of $150,000 to $170,000, commensurate with the experience and qualifications of the candidate. Benefits include 30 days annual leave and a health insurance scheme.

    UNU will cover the cost of travel of the individual to the duty station. Travel costs are covered only in the event that the function will be undertaken physically in the duty station and excludes working from home arrangements.

    UNU is not liable for any taxes that may be levied on the remuneration you receive under this contract. Payment of any such taxes remains the sole responsibility of PSA holders.

    Duration of contract

    The duration of the initial contract is 1 year. This is a Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract with UNU, with the possibility for renewal subject to requirements and satisfactory work performance. The combined duration on a PSA contract with UNU may not exceed six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for PSA is 65 years.

    The successful candidate will be based in New York and may initially start remotely.

    Start date

    It is expected that the appointee will take up the position in October 2021.


    Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise and will include up to two rounds of interviews, background, and reference checks.

    Special notice

    PSA holders do not hold international civil servant status nor are they considered a “staff member” as defined in the UN Staff Rules and Regulations.

    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. Applications from developing countries, and from women are strongly encouraged. Eligible internal applicants are encouraged to apply.

    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.

    Information about UNU rosters

    UNU reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement. We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNU at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.


  • Interested applicants should submit their application online through Impactpool by 11 July 2021 and must upload the following documents:

    • a cover letter setting out how your qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position
    • a completed and signed UNU Personal History (P.11) form; please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations
    • a full curriculum vitae with a list of publications

    UNU does not charge any application, processing, training, interviewing, testing or other fee in connection with the application or recruitment process. Should you receive a solicitation for the payment of a fee, please disregard it. Furthermore, please note that emblems, logos, names and addresses are easily copied and reproduced. Therefore, you are advised to apply particular care when submitting personal information on the web.