Organizational Setting and Work Relationships

In the Bureaux, the Senior Protection Officer works under the direct supervision of the Bureau Deputy Director or Head of Bureau Protection Service or Senior Protection Coordinator. In the Field, the incumbent normally reports to the Representative, Deputy or Assistant Representative (Protection) or Head of Sub Office as appropriate. The incumbent has direct supervisory responsibility for protection staff whose work may include RSD, community-based protection, registration, resettlement, internal displacement, complementary pathways, and education, among other areas.

In HQ, the incumbent may report to a Chief of Section or Deputy Director and may lead a Unit and/or supervise other protection staff. The incumbent acts as a key advisor to senior management and leads the development of a comprehensive protection strategy under the area of responsibility (AoR). S/he represents the Organization to authorities, UN sister agencies, partners and other stakeholders on protection policy and doctrine. The Senior Protection Officer plans, leads and coordinates quality, timely and effective protection responses to the needs of populations of concern under the AoR. This includes ensuring that operational responses in all sectors are shaped in a protection optic, are consistent with and promote respect for relevant international law and UNHCR’s doctrine, mainstream protection methodologies and integrate protection safeguards. Another important element of the incumbent¿s functions is to ensure that persons of concern of all age, gender and diversity groups are involved with the Office in making decisions that affect them, whether in accessing their rights or in identifying and implementing appropriate solutions to their problems. To undertake this role effectively, the incumbent will need to build and maintain effective interfaces with other relevant teams within the operation or the Bureau (including programme; PI and external relations; IM) and with DIP, communities of concern, authorities, protection and assistance partners as well as a broader network of stakeholders who can contribute to enhancing protection and achieving solutions.

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.


– Provide technical guidance and support to UNHCR and partners on all protection related issues.

– Stay abreast of legal, political, social, economic and cultural developments that have an impact on the protection environment.

– Manage a consultative process with government counterparts, partners and persons of concern to develop and implement a comprehensive protection and solutions strategy addressing the specific protection needs of women and men, children, youth and older persons, persons with disabilities, persons of diverse sexual orientation and/or gender identities (LGBTI persons), persons living with HIV/AIDS; gender equality and Gender Based Violence (GBV) priorities with regard to these persons.

– In operations applying the Cluster Approach, ensure the response of the Protection Cluster is grounded in a strategy which covers all assessed and prioritized protection needs of the affected populations.

– Ensure that the protection strategy is fully integrated into the Country Operations Plan, the UN Development and Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and the Humanitarian Country Team¿s common humanitarian response plan as well as with the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees and the Three Year Strategy on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways.

– Promote relevant International, Regional and National Law and applicable UN/UNHCR and IASC policy, standards and codes of conduct and ensure that all sectors and /or in clusters in applicable operations fulfil their responsibilities in mainstreaming protection.

– Promote the implementation of the AGD policy, including UNHCR¿s updated commitments to women and girls, and design, deliver and monitor programmes on an AGD basis to address identified protection needs.

– Develop, implement and monitor community-based protection strategies and ensure systematic application and integration of participatory and community-based approaches in protection and solutions planning, programming and strategies.

– Support the establishment of feedback and response systems and the incorporation of feedback received from persons of concern into programme design and adaptation.

– Guide the operation in the development and implementation of robust prevention, identification, and responses to fraud within protection processes and procedures, including registration, RSD, and resettlement, ensuring the integrity of interventions across all protection activities.

– Oversee the management of individual protection cases including those on GBV and child protection.

– Provide legal advice and guidance on protection issues to internal and external interlocutors; ensure legal assistance is accessible to persons of concern; liaise with competent authorities to ensure the issuance of personal and other relevant documents to persons of concern (including women and others in need of civil documentation in particular birth certificates).

– As designated Data Protection Focal Point, assist the data controller in carrying out his or her responsibilities regarding the Data Protection Policy (7.2 DPP).

– Oversee eligibility and status determination in the Operation(s) under the AoR, ensuring compliance with UNHCR procedural standards and international protection principles.

– Promote and implement strategies and measures to identify, prevent and reduce statelessness.

– Develop and implement an education plan as part of the protection strategy within the AoR as relevant.

– Develop and implement a child protection plan as part of the protection strategy within the AoR, ensuring programmes use a child protection systems approach.

– Monitor and intervene in cases of refoulement, expulsion and other protection incidents through working relations with governments and other partners.

– Work to safeguard the rights of persons of concerns in the context of mixed movements as relevant.

– Coordinate the preparation of, implement and oversee Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all protection/solutions activities.

– Ensure that durable solutions through voluntary repatriation, local integration and where appropriate, resettlement and complementary pathways are sought and provided to the largest possible number of persons of concern including undertaking, supporting, and/or overseeing resettlement and complementary pathways activities, including implementation of the GCR Three Year Strategy.

– Coordinate the design, implementation and evaluation of protection related programming with implementing and operational partners. – Develop and implement a programme of results-based advocacy through a consultative process with sectorial and/or cluster partners.

– Ensure that the Protection Sector or Cluster has an effective information management component which provides disaggregated data on populations of concern and their problems.

– Research, collect and disseminate relevant protection information and good practices to enhance protection delivery. – Develop the protection capacity of national and local authorities, partners and civil society to assume their responsibilities vis-à-vis all persons of concern through protection training, mainstreaming and related activities.

– Coordinate capacity-development initiatives for communities and individuals to assert their rights.

– Advise and capacitate national authorities, relevant institutions and civil society to strengthen legislation and status determination procedures and mechanisms.

– Perform other related duties as required.

For positions in Bureaux

– Support the Regional Bureau and Country Operations to reflect the protection and solution angle in support of persons of concern with regional processes.

– Support Country Operations in the development of strategies to build and further develop national asylum/RSD systems with a view to ensuring their fairness, efficiency, adaptability and integrity, favourable protection environment and solutions.

-Assist UNHCR management at country level to comply with policies and commitment on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse measures.

– Support Country Operations and ensure they meet their complementary pathways objectives and resettlement quotas.

– In close collaboration with DIP, (a) contribute to the development of background and general normative, policy, and legal positions, in compliance with UNHCR¿s global protection policies and standards; (b) contribute to the development of strategies at the regional and country level on the usage of law and policy approaches, including legislative and judicial engagement and UN human rights mechanisms ¿and/or regional ones ¿ and other protection frameworks, and integrated human rights standards in protection strategies and advocacy; and (c) coordinate and review UNHCR¿s country reports to the UN human rights mechanisms.

– Engage in relevant international and regional fora and forge regional partnerships to advocate for key protection and mandate issues, and engage in cross-cutting protection-related matters, including mixed movement, internal displacement and climate change/disaster-related displacement responses, as well as Statelessness in cooperation with DIP and where relevant RSD.

Minimum Qualifications

Years of Experience / Degree Level For P4/NOD – 9 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 8 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 7 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree Field(s) of Education Law, International Law, International refugee Law, International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, Refugee and Forced Migration, Political Sciences or other relevant field. (Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk* are essential) Certificates and/or Licenses Protection Learning Programme RSD-Resettlement Learning Programme Management Learning Programme (Certificates and Licenses marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Relevant Job Experience

Essential Minimum 7 years of relevant professional experience in the area of refugee protection, internal displacement, human rights or international humanitarian law, including experience in working directly with Field Offices. Very good knowledge of International Refugee and Human Rights Law and ability to apply the relevant legal principles, and of UNHCR¿s protection strategies and policies. Excellent legal research, analytical skills and drafting. Desirable Diverse field experience. Good IT skills including database management skills.

Functional Skills *PR-Protection-related guidelines, standards and indicators *PR-Age, Gender and Diversity (AGD) PR-Refugee Coordination Model PR-Human Rights Doctrine/Standards PR-International Humanitarian Law PR-Assessment of IDPs Status, Rights, Obligation PR-Comprehensive Solutions Framework LE-Judicial Engagement PR-Climate change and disaster related displacement PR-Accountability to Affected People – Principles and Framework PR-Gender Based Violence (GBV) Coordination (Functional Skills marked with an asterisk* are essential) Language Requirements 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

It is crucial that the incumbent has solid experience in the various aspects of protection work that will need to be undertaken in a complex humanitarian operation in a refugee setting. Proven experience working on refugee issues in politically complex operation will be required. S/he will have previously worked on, or supervised work related to community-based protection, legal protection, CwC, child protection and GBV areas of work. It is important that the incumbent has the skills to be able to undertake his/her responsibilities through an open and transparent partnership approach. To perform the responsibilities and tasks of the position in the context of Iran, it is critical that the incumbent has flexibility/adoptability, political acumen, cultural sensitivity, as well as excellent inter-personnel and communication skills that fit to the context in Iran. Given that the position will lead engagement with high-level external stakeholders, with a supervisory function, s/he is also expected to have practical managerial experience coupled with possession of maturity, analytical and diplomatic skills, good drafting skills, and team building/leading capacity.

Required languages (expected Overall ability is at least B2 level):


Desired languages


Operational context

Occupational Safety and Health Considerations:

To view occupational safety and health considerations for this duty station, please visit this link:

Nature of Position:

The Islamic Republic of Iran hosts one of the largest and most protracted refugee situations globally. Besides refugees, Iran also hosts large numbers of undocumented Afghans (in situ and those who newly fled to Iran in 2021) and Afghan passport-holders, who may be in need of international protection. Despite economic challenges, the Government of Iran has maintained its inclusive policies, enabling refugees and undocumented Afghans to access health and education services within the national system. UNHCR supports the Government through the provision of protection and humanitarian assistance for refugees, and also contributes to enhancing national services, which benefit persons of concern and host communities, in urban areas and in the 20 refugee settlements across the country. UNHCR also works closely with sister UN agencies, NGOs, and other international organizations under the umbrella of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) and as per the inter-agency Refugee Response Plan (RRP) for the Afghanistan situation.

According to evolving estimates by the Government of Iran, approximately 500, 000 to 1 million Afghans have arrived in Iran since 2021. New arrivals add to the in-situ Afghan population already in Iran. As per Government of Iran, there are currently approximately 4.5 million Afghans of varying status, in Iran. These include the 2.6 million Afghans that participated in a recently concluded headcount exercise conducted by the Government of Iran. Amongst displaced populations, there is also the presence of approximately 11,000 Iraqi registered refugees in the country. Access to refugees remains limited to those that approach UNHCR via the reception centres and helplines. Refugees live predominantly in urban areas, and a lesser number are in settlements in various parts of Iran. Outreach work continues to be challenged due to access limitations, due to which it is important to have an innovative approach on advancing community-based protection work.

The Senior Protection Officer will lead the Protection Section in ORT/Iran comprising of diverse international and national staff. The incumbent should have a demonstrated record of strong leadership, team management and strategic planning in the domain of protection. In view of the convergence of a number of strengthened contextual dynamics (complex geo-political context, limited durable solutions, increased needs due to economic hardship, precarious status of new arrivals in the country), the incumbent will be expected to provide protection guidance and implement overall protection work in a pragmatic manner and within the evolving operational constraints specific to the Iran context. The incumbent would be required to steer key protection issues in the operation and advocate on protection concerns with government counterparts. S/he should therefore possess strong negotiation skills at senior -level and problem -solving skills so as to advance UNHCR protection strategy in-country. S/he will ensure the implementation of the new protection and solutions strategy. S/he will also be responsible for addressing regular protection issues, including those related to legal protection, including arrests, detention and deportation. S/he would need to regularly analyse, in collaboration with the IM unit, sub-offices, and inter-agency team inflow and outflow trends to ensure preparedness and efficient service response, as required. To ensure timely information sharing continued meetings with relevant country operations in the region will be held. The incumbent is expected to have sound and up to date knowledge of GBV, Child Protection and CBP work and practices in UNHCR contexts and a good understanding of UNHCR’s AGD policy and approach with a view to implementation. S/he will be expected to be aware of emerging protection issues, and provide guidance as required, including through supporting the various sub and field offices in Iran.

Furthermore, proven operational experience of working in complex geo-political contexts and achieving tangible results in the area of protection is critical for this position. Strong coordination skills as well as experience in working effectively with international and national NGOs are required to advance protection agenda as part of the Refugee Response Plan for the Afghanistan situation. Experience in working with urban caseload will be an asset as the vast majority of refugee and asylum -seekers reside in urban areas.

Given the religious and cultural particularities of Iran, it is important that the incumbent has an excellent record of inter-personal and diplomatic skills, cultural sensitivity, and political awareness.

Living and Working Conditions:

UNHCR is present in Iran through its Country Representation in Tehran, three Sub-Offices (Mashhad, Kerman, Shiraz), Field Office in Tehran and two Field Units (Esfahan and Dogharoun).

Tehran is a B category duty station (Family duty station). Certain aspects of working/living conditions in Iran could be affected by the ongoing sanctions.

Issuance of entry visa and residence permit for international staff and his/her dependents/family members is subject to the approval of the Government, for which the process can take several months. Family members with a dependent visa are not allowed to work. For international staff and their family members residing in Iran are required to follow the cultural practices in Iran, which include the donning of culturally appropriate dress, particularly for women.

Iranian schools only teach subjects in Farsi. There are a few privately owned schools offering curriculums in English in Teheran. There are also some Embassy schools such as French Embassy School, Italian Embassy offering course in their native language. German Embassy School, in its international section provides classes in English up to grade 8, which is open for any nationals. This school is a candidate school for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programs KG1 to 5, but as of October 2022, no international schools in Iran offers IB curriculum. Similarly, Pakistan Embassy School and Indian Embassy School also offer courses in English, which however are open only for nationals of the respective countries.

In Tehran, pharmacies, shops, shopping malls, markets and cafes/restaurants, etc are available. Staff can purchase basic commodities, groceries, household items and clothing, while some foreign products / international food items etc may be less easily available. Living cost in Teheran is on rise. Iranian banks are available and accessible by foreign nationals through a required process. There are several hospitals and clinics offering medical services to Iranians and foreign nationals alike, although, at times the language can be a barrier for international who do not speak Farsi. Staff live in private accommodation – different options are available with varying rental prices.

There are one international airport and one domestic airport in Teheran. For in-country travels, there are multiple domestic flights and trains connecting Teheran to cities/towns across the country, including where UNHCR has offices. When required, the office also use road missions. Direct international flights are connected to a number of countries with several airlines.

The security level throughout Iran remains at level 2 (LOW) except for Sistan-Baluchestan which is recognized as level 3. The area is prone to earthquakes. Depending on the season, air quality in Tehran can deteriorate to below a normal range.

Living/working conditions in Iran could evolve and can be subject to change.

Additional Qualifications



BA: International Law (Required), BA: Law (Required), BA: Political Science (Required)


HCR Management Learning Program – UNHCR, HCR Protection Learning Program – UNHCR, HCR Resettlement Learning Program – UNHCR

Work Experience

Annual Budget OL in Operation/Office, Number of Persons of Concern Served, Number of Workforce in Operation/Work Setting, Workforce to Supervise, Working with Persons of Concern: Asylum Seekers, Working with Persons of Concern: Refugees


Accountability, Client & results orientation, Commitment to continuous learning, Communication, Empowering & building trust, Judgement & decision making, Leadership, Managing performance, Negotiation & conflict resolution, Organizational awareness, Planning & organizing, Political awareness, Strategic planning & visions, Teamwork & collaboration

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Add. 3 to Bi-annual Compendium 2022 – Part B

Additional Information

Functional clearance

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: 16 March 2023 (midnight Geneva time)