UN Offices

Head of Office (Political Affairs)

UN Offices

Job Description


Org. Setting and Reporting

Under the overall supervision of the Special Envoy for Syria (SE), the Head of Office (HoO), Director of Political Affairs reports directly to the Deputy Special Envoy (DSE). The Head of Office, Director of Political Affairs is the most senior representative of the Special Envoy in Syria, leads the work of the Damascus office of the Special Envoy for Syria, and is responsible for the provision of general direction and Coordination of the Office's activities. The HoO has an overall responsibility for administering the Damascus office and for ensuring the integrated and coherent functioning of all activities of the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria at national level. The HoO, Director Political Affairs may also be appointed in writing by the Designated Official as Area Security Coordinator (ASCs), in order to coordinate and control the security arrangements applicable to all personnel, premises and assets in the respective area of responsibility. ASCs are accountable to the DO for their security related responsibilities, in accordance with their respective letters of appointment.


Within delegated authority, the Head of Office, Director of Political Affairs will be responsible for the following:

Political Analysis, Advice and Reporting:
•Represent the Special Envoy in Syria with the Government of Syria, civil society representatives, other Syrian interlocutors; and the diplomatic community.
•Provide experienced Counsel and support to the Special Envoy/Deputy Special Envoy, especially on the situation in the AoR.
•Identify, analyse and monitor local developments and emerging issues with respect to the implementation of the OSE's mandate.
•Works closely with the UN Country Team (UNCT) on development and implementation of policies and practical approaches, including on facilitating humanitarian access, as needed, and in support of other UNCT efforts.
•Assess implications of and make recommendations to the OSE leadership and partners on possible strategies, policies and other measures to advance mandated objectives and UN principles and values; Monitor, evaluate and report on outcomes.
•Ensure regular, timely and high-quality reporting to the OSE leadership on pertinent developments and issues.
•Support the Special Envoy in fulfilling reporting obligations of the OSE to UNHQ, including reports of the Secretary-General to the Security Council and other bodies as appropriate.
•Oversee the preparation of contextual information materials, such as summary and analytical reports, situation reports, briefing notes, notes to file, code cables, background notes and profiles in coordination with the OSE’s Chief of Staff and PPAO.
•Ensure an effective system of information management designed to guarantee accessibility and utility of information.

•Provide strategic leadership, direct and coordinate the personnel and activities of the Damascus office, in line with the mandate and strategic guidance provided by the Special Envoy, as well as applicable principles, rules, regulations and best practice.
•Ensure the operational functioning of the Damascus office, in coordination with the OSE’s Chief of Staff and Chief Mission Support.
•Formulate a comprehensive programme of work for the Damascus office, determining priorities and activities that are in accordance with the mandate.
•Manage related administrative tasks, including inputs into preparation of budgets, assignment and monitoring of performance parameter, reporting on budget, preparation of inputs for the results-based budgeting process in coordination with the Chief of Staff and Chief Mission Support.
•Supervise, mentor, and evaluate staff, participate in the selection of new staff under his/ her direct supervision.

Planning, Coordination and Facilitation:
•Develop and maintain productive relationships with the authorities, political and community leaders, civil society actors, the UN family and other national and international partners on coordination and policy matters.
•Develop and lead outreach strategies targeting the local population, in order to cultivate ties, create/expand political space, foster dialogue and develop an understanding of local perceptions and views on relevant issues, challenges and possible solutions thereto. Ensure that perceptions are factored into the Mission's own activities and contribution to policy making and planning processes.
•Consult and collaborate with institutional partners to increase understanding of issues and develop strategies and plans of action to address challenges, in pursuit of shared objectives.
•In coordination with the OSE-Syria office in Geneva work on advancing the implementation of the mandate and, as necessary, work with relevant departments, agencies, funds and programmes, member states and regional organizations.
•Promote coherence in the activities of the members of the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) with regard to the political process, seeking to ensure synergies that are aligned with the UN plans and priorities for the political process; Support the development and implementation of UN common planning and programming processes, including through the provision of substantive and practical assistance to related activities.
•Support and/or facilitate visits to the AoR by Mission delegations and/or other partners and stakeholders.
•Perform other relevant duties, as requested by the Special Envoy and Deputy Special Envoy.


Professionalism - Demonstrated in-depth understanding of special political missions and/or peacekeeping operations; Substantial and diverse experience in all facets of the job; Strong analytical and evaluative skills combined with good judgement; in-depth understanding of and an ability to evaluate international political situations; Excellent drafting and presentation skills; Shows pride in work and in achievements; Demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter; Is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; Is motivated by professional rather than personal concerns; Shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; Remains calm in stressful situations; Takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work.

Communication - Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; Listens to others, correctly
interprets messages from others and responds appropriately; Asks questions to clarify and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; Tailors language, tone, style and format to match audience; Demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed.

Accountability – Takes ownership of all responsibilities and honors commitments; Delivers outputs for which one has responsibility within prescribed time, cost and quality standards, operates in compliance with organizational rules and regulations, supports subordinates, provides oversight and takes responsibility for delegated assignments; Takes personal responsibility for his/her own shortcomings and those of work unit, where applicable.

Judgement/Decision-making - Identifies the key issues in a complex situation, and comes to the heart of the problem quickly; Gathers relevant information before making a decision; Considers positive and negative impact on others and on the Organization; Proposes a course of action or makes a recommendation based on all available information; checks assumptions against facts; Determines that the actions proposed will satisfy the expressed and underlying needs for the decision; Makes tough decisions when necessary.

Managing Performance – Delegates the appropriate responsibility, accountability and
decision-making authority; Makes sure that roles, responsibilities and reporting lines are clear to each staff member; Accurately judges the amount of time and resources needed to accomplish a task and matches task to skills; Monitors progress against milestones and deadlines; regularly discusses performance and provides feedback and coaching to staff; Encourages risk-taking and supports creativity and initiative; Actively supports the development and career aspirations of staff; Appraises performance fairly.


Advanced university degree (Masters or equivalent) in Political Science, International Relations, Social Science, Law or a related field. A first-level university degree in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Work Experience

At least 15 years of progressively responsible experience in political affairs, diplomacy, Conflict Resolution, or related field, of which at least five years were at international level in a large multicultural institution is required.

Extensive experience in political outreach, analysis, reporting and negotiation in an international setting is required.

Extensive experience in senior management, Administration and operations in an international organization setting is required.

Experience in leading and managing filed offices and operations away from headquarters is required.

Experience working in a United Nations common system field operation (inclusive of peacekeeping, political missions and UN agencies, funds, and programmes) or similar international organization or non-governmental organization- in a conflict or post-conflict setting is required.

Experience working in the Middle East on conflict-related issues is required.


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For the position advertised, fluency in oral and written English is required. Knowledge of Arabic is desirable.


Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise which may be followed by competency-based interview.

Special Notice

Appointment or assignment against this position is for an initial period of one year.

The United Nations Secretariat is committed to achieving 50/50 gender balance and geographical diversity in its staff. Female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.

At the United Nations, the paramount consideration in the recruitment and employment of staff is the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, with due regard to geographic diversity. All employment decisions are made on the basis of qualifications and organizational needs. The United Nations is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment of mutual respect. The United Nations recruits and employs staff regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds or disabilities.

Staff members appointed to the current position are required to submit a financial disclosure statement upon assignment or appointment and annually thereafter.

United Nations Considerations

According to article 101, paragraph 3, of the Charter of the United Nations, the paramount consideration in the employment of the staff is the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity. Candidates will not be considered for employment with the United Nations if they have committed violations of International Human Rights law, violations of international humanitarian law, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, or sexual harassment, or if there are reasonable grounds to believe that they have been involved in the commission of any of these acts. The term “sexual exploitation” means any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another. The term “sexual abuse” means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. The term “sexual harassment” means any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation, when such conduct interferes with work, is made a condition of employment or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, and when the gravity of the conduct warrants the termination of the perpetrator’s working relationship. Candidates who have committed crimes other than minor traffic offences may not be considered for employment.

Due regard will be paid to the importance of recruiting the staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible. The United Nations places no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs. The United Nations Secretariat is a non-smoking environment.

Reasonable accommodation may be provided to applicants with disabilities upon request, to support their participation in the recruitment process.

The paramount consideration in the appointment, transfer, or promotion of staff shall be the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity. By accepting an offer of appointment, United Nations staff members are subject to the authority of the Secretary-General and assignment by him or her to any activities or offices of the United Nations in accordance with staff regulation 1.2 (c). In this context, all internationally recruited staff members shall be required to move periodically to discharge new functions within or across duty stations under conditions established by the Secretary-General.

Applicants are urged to follow carefully all instructions available in the online recruitment platform, inspira. For more detailed guidance, applicants may refer to the Manual for the Applicant, which can be accessed by clicking on “Manuals” hyper-link on the upper right side of the inspira account-holder homepage.

The evaluation of applicants will be conducted on the basis of the information submitted in the application according to the evaluation criteria of the job opening and the applicable internal legislations of the United Nations including the Charter of the United Nations, resolutions of the General Assembly, the Staff Regulations and Rules, administrative issuances and guidelines. Applicants must provide complete and accurate information pertaining to their personal profile and qualifications according to the instructions provided in inspira to be considered for the current job opening. No amendment, addition, deletion, revision or modification shall be made to applications that have been submitted. Candidates under serious consideration for selection will be subject to reference checks to verify the information provided in the application.

Job openings advertised on the Careers Portal will be removed at 11:59 p.m. (New York time) on the deadline date.

No Fee


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