Employment Information

  • Below you will find some details about employment with the United Nations University. Please see the Applying tab for specific instructions on submitting an application.


    Selection Policies

    Staff members are selected solely on merit. While recruiting only the most able and technically competent candidates, UNU strives for balance in gender and nationality representation. UNU has no country or gender quotas, but does try to ensure that the diversity of UN Member States is reflected in the composition of its staff. In this way, the University can more effectively understand and meet the different needs of UN Member States and also encourage a greater cross-fertilization of ideas within the organization. Where competing candidates exhibit equal merit, preference is given to candidates from developing countries or regions, and every effort is made to achieve a balanced gender distribution within the organization.

    UNU strongly supports the principle of equal rights of men and women enshrined in the first sentence of the United Nations Charter. Measures have been taken to allow for a climate conducive to the equal participation of men and women in the workplace. These include a flexible working-hours scheme, family leave, the possibility of extended maternity leave and a policy of giving preference to well-qualified female applicants in cases of candidates with comparable qualifications and suitability.


    The working language of UNU is English. Consequently, fluency in written and spoken English is essential. It is advantageous to be proficient in one or more of the other languages commonly used in the UNU system — especially Japanese, French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Finnish and Russian.

    Academic qualifications and experience

    Most professional academic positions within the University require, as a minimum, a relevant doctorate (Ph.D. or equivalent) with several years of post-qualifying experience. Most administrative positions at the professional level require a minimum of a postgraduate degree (master’s or equivalent) plus post-qualifying experience. Most general service positions require a minimum of an undergraduate university degree together with several years relevant experience.

    The required minimum period of experience depends on the grade of the post stated in the vacancy announcement. There are five grades in the professional category (P-1 at the junior level to P-5 at the senior level) and two in the policy-making category (D-1 and D-2). Candidates for professional positions at grades P-3 to P-5 are typically required to have 6-15 years of relevant work experience. Applicants for positions at D-1 and D-2 are expected to be able to demonstrate more extensive experience, at higher organizational levels. General service staff must have several years successful experience in a relevant area and have excellent business computing skills and sound administrative abilities.

    Computer skills

    Sound, hands-on knowledge of standard office software (word processing, spreadsheets, databases, etc.) and good quantitative skills are required of all staff.

    Personal qualities

    Good interpersonal skills are essential, as are diplomacy, tact and the ability to work well as part of  a team. Persons wishing to work in a multinational environment need to be tolerant and able to cope with cultural differences and different approaches to problem-solving and decision-making. Besides having a well-balanced personality and good communications skills, candidates should enjoy cultural diversity. Prior experience in a cross-cultural work environment is an asset.

    Management skills

    Management skills are required of candidates applying for supervisory positions. In particular, the ability to plan and prioritize work is a key competency. Thus, you should be able to demonstrate that you are able to set clear goals; monitor performance; effectively manage projects and assignments; motivate individuals and teams; delegate freely and promote teamwork; develop the skills and expertise of your team; provide guidance, feedback and objective appraisal of people’s performance; promote a free flow of information; and resolve conflicts.

    Staff within UNU may be called upon to work well beyond the established office hours, to meet very short deadlines and to travel extensively — sometimes to countries with difficult living conditions. They may have to cope with poor technology and other constraints in the field. Nevertheless, they must remain committed and do their job efficiently and effectively, often with limited resources.

    Professional staff members of UNU should also be able to demonstrate an ability to analyse problems thoroughly and systematically. Furthermore, they should be articulate, tactful, diplomatic and flexible, and should possess sound judgement, integrity and a drive for results.

    Medical Clearance

    Offers of appointment are contingent upon the candidate passing a pre-employment medical examination.

    Other details

    Duration of tour of service

    UNU does not offer permanent appointments. In order to keep the collective knowledge of UNU staff current and at the highest levels, especially in scientific and academic fields, and to ensure the regular injection of new ideas from outside, UNU generally appoints all staff on a two-year, fixed-term, contract basis. In many cases, an appointment to a further two-year contract is made, if performance meets the required standards and if there is a continuing need for the services of the staff member.

    Salary and benefits

    The organization offers attractive remuneration packages and benefits to attract staff of the highest quality. Starting salaries are based upon academic and professional qualifications, as well as the level of the post. The base salary scales are set by the UN General Assembly.

    Salaries and benefits are usually paid in the currency of the duty station and are, in principle, exempt from local and national, income taxes, although UN “staff assessment” (a UN income tax) is deducted from gross salaries. Depending upon the duty station, dependency allowances, in the form of higher net salaries for a dependant spouse or allowances for dependant children may be provided. Other benefits include: paid annual leave at the rate of 30 days per year; 10 “UNU official holidays” in lieu of national holidays; generous sick leave entitlements; a contributory health insurance scheme; and group life assurance coverage.

    All staff members are required to contribute to the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF). The monthly contribution is tied to a scale determined by the United Nations General Assembly and a contribution to the staff member’s account is also made by UNU. Besides retirement pensions, the UNJSPF provides disability pensions and, in the event of the death of the participant, survivor benefits. The mandatory retirement age is 62. Staff members separating from UNU before reaching that age are entitled to either a lump-sum withdrawal settlement instead of a pension, or (if they have at least five years of contributory service) a deferred retirement benefit, or (if, in addition, they are over 55 years of age) an early retirement pension at a reduced rate. Pensions are subject to annual cost-of-living adjustments.

    Professional staff members of UNU may be required to serve at various duty stations during the course of their contract. Such staff receive a post adjustment component on top of their base salary, based on the cost of living at the duty station and the rate of exchange of the local currency vis-à-vis the United States dollar. Staff serving away from their home countries receive an assignment allowance and an education grant and dependency allowance are paid for each eligible child. International staff members may also be eligible for a rental subsidy and various shipping, travel and installation allowances related to appointment to and transfers between duty stations. If an internationally recruited staff member’s contract is extended beyond the initial two years, UNU will meet the “home leave” travel costs of the staff member travelling (with spouse and dependant children) to his or her recognized country of origin.

    Relocation expenses

    In the case of new staff members who have been internationally recruited, UNU usually meets the costs of travel from the place of recruitment to the duty station for the staff member and their eligible dependants. It also usually meets the costs of shipping and insuring household effects. Assistance with visa formalities may be provided, and UNU can arrange initial hotel accommodation.

    Similarly, a repatriation grant is payable to internationally recruited staff upon separation and relocation back to their home country. The amount of the grant is linked to the staff member’s dependency status and the length of service with the United Nations.