Organizational Setting and Work Relationships
The Senior External Relations Adviser has the responsibility of coordinating the External Relations functions. The incumbent advocates on behalf of UNHCR’s global operations and protection mandate through contacts with multiple high-level interlocutors to ensure consistency of messages and to coordinate advocacy efforts with respect to global, regional, and domestic refugee protection and assistance. The Senior External Relations Adviser normally reports to the Representative or Deputy Representative. The incumbent has direct supervisory responsibility for External Relations staff.
External contacts are predominantly with partners, media, government, embassies and other international organizations in the country on matters of importance to the organization.
All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core, functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR¿s core values of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity.
– Stay abreast of the challenges posed by the political context, the UN and humanitarian reform, and institutional developments in forced displacement and humanitarian operations.
– Guide and manage UNHCR’s relationships with key stakeholders including the government; NGOs/think tanks; and civil society influencers to maintain and enhance political and financial support for UNHCR’s global operations.
– Through a consultative process with UNHCR colleagues (Programme, Protection, etc.) with external actors and partners, develop and implement protection and assistance strategy, with clearly articulated objectives, timelines, and outputs.
– Implement a communications strategy that generates support for UNHCR¿s operations from external partners (e.g. the general public, governments, partners, the media, academia and persons of concern).
– Address issues pertaining to the needs of the populations of concern and the strategies in place to respond to their needs.
– Ensure that the UNHCR priorities are given adequate weight in the documentation of the UN Country Team.
– Maintain a close dialogue with and provide accurate information to donors by organizing regular briefings, bilateral meetings, and donor missions. Prepare reports as appropriate.
– Coordinate appropriate interventions/responses (missions, briefings, statements, letters, etc.) by the Representative and other senior staff to influence key decision-makers on legislative and policy issues of concern to UNHCR.
– In accordance with the operational context and in close cooperation with headquarters, access new and non-traditional funding sources, as appropriate, including private sector and humanitarian pooled/basket funds (e.g. Central Emergency Response Fund, Human Security Fund).
– Disseminate information on UNHCR¿s global funding situation and mobilize additional funds to implement special projects aimed at enhancing the quality of protection for persons of concern in the country operation.
– Lead the inter-agency cooperation and communication strategies, initiatives, and tools.
– Advise senior management in representing UNHCR in the UN Country Team and other UN coordination fora.
– Lead local UN integrated missions, Inter-Agency Standing Committee, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Cluster communication strategies and initiatives.
– Manage the information flow within the country operations by identifying priority matters, securing, analysing and disseminating documentation and information to support country operations and corporate communication processes and priorities.
– Consolidate information on UNHCR¿s country operations and identify appropriate messages for campaigns and appeals.
– Coordinate the drafting of, and/or draft, situation reports, briefing notes, background material, talking points, fact sheets, press releases and articles.
– Monitor the interests and concerns of key stakeholders and partners, particularly policymakers and NGOs, and recommend appropriate action or responses on the part of UNHCR.
– Develop targeted communications strategies and media packages for situations and/or activities that require focused attention.
– Identify and target major events and initiatives (e.g., commercial, cultural, political and sports) to promote the work of UNHCR.
– Manage media relations by, inter alia, responding to direct queries, publishing press releases and organizing regular briefings and visits to country operations.
– Approve fund-raising messages.
– Approve any relevant expenditure for the implementation of fund-raising activities.
– Decide which donors to approach and which operations or activities to prioritize for special fundraising appeals.
– Approve the communications strategy.
– Approve budgets and expenditures for communications activities.
– Clear external relations/communication products and tools.
– Represent UNHCR fund-raising and communication priorities in inter-agency initiatives and fora.
– Perform other related duties as required.
Education & Professional Work Experience
Years of Experience / Degree Level
For P5 – 12 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 11 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 10 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree
Field(s) of Education
Political Sciences; Social Sciences; International Relations;
Journalism; or other relevant field.
(Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk* are essential)
Certificates and/or Licenses
Relevant Job Experience
12 years relevant previous work experience in humanitarian operations in a field environment. Excellent knowledge of local institution, politics and culture.
Good knowledge of UNHCR operations both at Headquarters and in the Field. Fund-raising and programming/programme management experience. Experience of working with social media.
CO-Preparation of key messages/talking points/speeches
ER-Inter-Agency External Relations
(Functional Skills marked with an asterisk* are essential)
For International Professional and Field Service jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English.
For National Professional jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English and local language.
For General Service jobs: Knowledge of English and/or UN working language of the duty station if not English.
All UNHCR workforce members must individually and collectively, contribute towards a working environment where each person feels safe, and empowered to perform their duties. This includes by demonstrating no tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, harassment including sexual harassment, sexism, gender inequality, discrimination, and abuse of power.
As individuals and as managers, all must be proactive in preventing and responding to inappropriate conduct, support ongoing dialogue on these matters and speaking up and seeking guidance and support from relevant UNHCR resources when these issues arise.
This is a Standard Job Description for all UNHCR jobs with this job title and grade level. The Operational Context may contain additional essential and/or desirable qualifications relating to the specific operation and/or position. Any such requirements are incorporated by reference in this Job Description and will be considered for the screening, shortlisting and selection of candidates.
Desired Candidate Profile
Proven record in strategic thinking, planning and decision making, and in proactively developing strategies and contributing to policy and programme development.
Political astuteness and ability to navigate complex relations in a politically sensitive environment, where reputational risks can be high;
Previous experience of working within a large and complex humanitarian-development setting, where linkages and cooperation between humanitarian organizations and programmes and recovery and development organisations and programmes are fostered and leveraged to increase protection and solutions opportunities for IDPs, refugees and returnees.
Ideally, experience from working in an IDP context.
Demonstrated strong experience from liaising, engaging and communicating effectively with Government humanitarian and development donors, and private sector partners with the aim of mobilizing resources for UNHCR’s programmes.
Sound knowledge of UNHCR resource mobilization/fund raising policies and requirements for funding submissions and reports; experience from Monitoring and Evaluation is an asset.
Excellent communication, coordination, stakeholder development and management and interpersonal skills;
Excellent external communication and external relations abilities, and ability to represent UNHCR vis-à-vis senior stakeholders, including government, donor, HCT and UNCT; prior experience in complex donor relations and engagement, including development actors and/or international finance institutions is an asset;
Experience from developing progressive external relations strategies, that communicate effectively and compassionately to the audience targeted;
Strong teamworking skills and experience from effectively supervising and managing a team, to empower and support the colleagues in efficiently delivering on their responsibilities.
Proactive, forward looking and solutions-oriented, with a strong sense of responsibility and accountability for delivering with high quality on the duties set out in the job description.
Experience from foresight and innovation and in the development of new, progressive approaches is an asset;
Excellent English communication and drafting skills, with high attention to detail.
Required languages (expected Overall ability is at least B2 level):
Occupational Safety and Health Considerations:
Nature of Position:
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been working in Ukraine since 1994, initially facilitating the repatriation of Crimean Tatars and supporting the government of Ukraine in providing protection services and assistance to refugees and stateless persons. In 2014, UNHCR’s operation significantly expanded to assist people internally displaced (IDPs) from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and IDPs and conflict-affected people from the Donbas. Following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, UNHCR has further scaled up its presence and operation across the country and now has offices in Kyiv, Dnipro, Vinnytsia, Lviv, Uzhhorod, Chernivtsi, Odesa, as well as in Donetsk and Luhansk, and is currently working with 20 implementing NGO partners operating throughout Ukraine. In line with its protection and durable solutions mandate for displaced and stateless populations, the Global Compact on Refugees and relevant Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) guidance, UNHCR – through its field offices and partners – supports the Ukrainian authorities to provide humanitarian services and assistance to those most affected and made vulnerable by the ongoing war, including by supporting people’s access to essential services, exercise of rights, inclusion in national services, and attainment of long-term and sustainable solutions. Within the inter-agency humanitarian response, UNHCR leads the coordination of the Protection, the Shelter/NFI and the Camp Coordination Camp Management (CCCM) Clusters.
While the war continues and leads to more civilian casualties, displacement and destruction of private homes and civilian infrastructure, the government is committed to advancing its recovery goals, set out in the National Recovery Plan adopted in 2022. To implement this, and facilitate the development of recovery-related programmes, more than 20 Sectoral Working Groups have been established, including one on the return and reintegration of refugees and IDPs, which UNHCR co-chairs. The Government of Ukraine and Ministries like the one on Digital Transformation are also driving the development of technological and energy efficient solutions, in the context of the recovery and building back better and preparing Ukraine for EU accession. Given the strong government leadership, forward-looking vision and active role of national and local institutions, such as the Social Protection Departments, the context is thus very conducive for innovation, humanitarian-development nexus programming and area based durable solutions programming.
UNHCR Ukraine has developed an operational strategy that is aligned with the interagency Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and the Transitional Framework (pending the development of a UNSDCF for Ukraine), and which prioritises the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to war-affected people living in frontline regions impacted by the war and newly displaced people, while simultaneously working to support the ability of IDPs and returnees to recover and find durable solutions to their situation.
In 2023, UNHCR has a budget $602.5 million, allocated to reach 3.6 million internally displaced, war-affected people and returnees with protection services and psychosocial support, emergency shelter and housing repairs, essential items and cash assistance. Building on the strong resource mobilisation from Government and private sector partner donors in 2022, the Senior External Relations Adviser is responsible for developing and ensuring the implementation of the operation’s resource mobilisation strategy, encompassing targets and complementary and mutually reinforcing activities, including visibility events. In a competitive environment, of high and continuously rising needs, it will be key to demonstrate and effectively communicate – using data and evidence from participatory surveys, PDMs and other sources – the needs in protection and solutions, and UNHCR’s added value to the efforts of the government, its national institutions and other partners. Demonstrating effectiveness, efficiency and due diligence will equally be key.
Since UNHCR works in the humanitarian-early recovery sphere, especially in the design and implementation of its shelter/housing and protection programs, the Senior External Relations Adviser is expected to contribute to the development of joint and multi-partner programs and to engage with humanitarian, development as well as private sector donors, who want to contribute to sustainable and dignified solutions for IDPs and returnees.
Living and Working Conditions:
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been present in Ukraine since 1994 but has increased its presence by a substantially larger scale up in the operation’s structure, staffing and response after the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The geographical presence within Ukraine has significatively expanded to deliver the emergency response. The functions in the country office are currently divided between Kyiv and L’viv, and new operational offices have been established in the central and western regions. UNHCR now has direct operational presence in Chernivtsi, Dnipro, Kyiv, L’viv, Odesa, Poltava, Uzhhorod and Vinnytsia as well as in Donetsk and Luhansk, which are currently not under the control of the Government of Ukraine. The current structure is the foundation for the 2023 structure, however it will be continuously reviewed and adjusted in response to the evolving operational environment.
The war in Ukraine has caused death and suffering on a dramatic scale and left at least 17.6 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection. At the end of January 2023, over 5.9 million people are estimated to be internally displaced, while 8 million refugees from Ukraine have been recorded across Europe, most of them women and children.
The massive destruction of civilian infrastructure, with the energy sector being particularly targeted in the fall of 2022, has made life unbearable for millions of people who have lost their homes and livelihoods, and has severely disrupted access to electricity, water, heating as well as critical services, including healthcare, education and social protection services. Humanitarian access continues to be hampered, particularly in areas in the East under the temporary military control of the Russian Federation.
Civilians remain exposed to serious risks to their physical security and integrity, particularly in eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. The risk of GBV, including sexual violence, is high particularly in areas of active hostilities. The separation of families is one of the problems most reported by protection actors, particularly following displacement. Populations displaced or affected by the war live in situations of deprivation, following the loss or damage of their housing, loss of incomes, and the lack of access to essential services, such as health care or education.
The Government of Ukraine maintains a strong lead role in responding to the needs of its population and UNHCR supports the Government and its central and local institutions to provide protection, shelter/housing, cash and in-kind assistance to people impacted by the war. Under the leadership of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, UNHCR operates as part of the inter-agency humanitarian response, working in close coordination with local authorities and humanitarian partners. UNHCR is leading three clusters – Protection, Shelter and NFIs, and CCCM and is part of the Durable Solutions Steering Committee
The strategic orientation of UNHCR’s response is to reach people with specific vulnerabilities who remain in frontline and heavily affected areas with immediate relief while supporting displaced people and those who have remained in their homes, or returned, with protection advice, shelter support and cash assistance to enable their attainment of durable solutions.
The war in Ukraine continues to evolve and areas of Donetska, Luhanska, Khersonska and Zaporizka oblasts in the east and south of Ukraine are currently under the temporary military control of the Russian Federation. The most intense fighting is now concentrated in the east (Donbas) and south of the country. At the same time, long-range cruise missiles and UAVs have been hitting vital infrastructure across the country, including airports at the start of the invasion. The airspace is therefore closed for commercial traffic, leaving cars and trains the only means of transportation across and in and out of the country. Large scale attacks on critical energy and transportation infrastructure have also taken place since October 2022. This has led to frequent power outages, internet, and connectivity problems; coupled with the harsh winter conditions, these developments present an additional challenge to the operational and security environment and affect staff safety and wellbeing.
The UN has not been targeted and retains its impartiality and neutrality when delivering its mandate. However, the danger cannot be fully ruled out, and risks to personnel and dependents, assets, and programmatic activities remain extant.
Security threats and risk levels are being identified and reviewed through comprehensive Security Risk Management SRM processes. The highest residual risks, assessed at this moment in time, emanate from the international armed conflict threat factors and vary from high in non-contested areas, to very high and even extreme, for areas where open armed hostilities are ongoing. In this context, the humanitarian space has shrunk, making access to beneficiaries in contested areas difficult.
To determine if a risk is acceptable, the UNHCR Representative, Heads of Offices and Programme Managers, security staff, and personnel apply the concept, principles, and applicability of the SRM process as defined by the UNSMS. However, the minimal projected risk level in Ukraine is still assessed as “high” which should be strongly considered, and staff applying for positions in Ukraine should be ready to live and work in a very dynamic security environment in which unexpected events could be a daily occurrence. Air raids are common, and staff can be obliged to work from bunkers or underground carparks for several hours. Power and water outages are to be expected in places of residence and shops, restaurants and other services can be disrupted. Curfews are in place country wide. Mission travel must be authorized by the Representative or designated managers and security clearance is mandatory. When necessary, the security unit works closely with UNDSS to make sure that programme activities can go ahead using the SRM processes and procedures that have already been set up and approved by the Designated Official or the ASC. Considering the changing operational and security environment in the country, UNHCR is flexible to relocate its offices to locations that would better serve the delivery of its mandate to help people in need of protection and assistance.
BA: International Relations (Required), BA: Journalism (Required), BA: Political Science (Required), BA: Social Science (Required)
Accountability, Client & results orientation, Commitment to continuous learning, Communication, Empowering & building trust, Judgement & decision making, Leadership, Managing performance, Negotiation & conflict resolution, Organizational awareness, Political awareness, Stakeholder management, Strategic planning & visions, Teamwork & collaboration
UNHCR Salary Calculator
March 2023 Compendium – Part B
This position doesn’t require a functional clearance
How to apply
The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Please note that UNHCR does not charge a fee at any stage of its recruitment process (application, interview, meeting, travelling, processing, training or any other fees).
Closing date of receipt of applications: 20 April 2023 (midnight Geneva time)