Project Specialist

United Nations Development Programme, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Skill Required:, Project/ Programme Management
Preferred Experience: 
3 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 
25th June, 2019

Job Description


The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Flagship Portfolio on SDG16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (henceforth, the “portfolio”), aims to address governance deficits and strengthen the effectiveness of key institutions to deliver people-centered services. It also aims to build the space, capacity and trust for excluded and vulnerable groups to participate and inform policy- and decision-making, so that it meets their specific needs and interests. The portfolio intervenes across 3 inter-related outcomes/service lines:

  • Parliament and Independent Commissions;
  • Rule of Law and Access to Justice; and
  • Public Sector and Local Governance.

This position will involve working on the Flagship Portfolio on SDG16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, with a specific focus on the Parliament and Rule of Law and Access to Justice service lines with the possibility of being assigned/re-assigned to other outputs as required.

Parliament & Rule of Law and Access to Justice

Parliament: This service line will provide technical assistance to the Parliament to adopt people-centered approaches, systems and processes, in especially upholding the rights of excluded and vulnerable groups. The portfolio builds on the democratic gains made by these institutions, while addressing key areas and gaps. The portfolio aims to strengthen a people-centered focus and the citizens’-interface across all these institutions.

In 2015, UNDP was requested by the Speaker to provide technical assistance to Parliament, as well as coordinate the support of other development partners, building on a previous phase of support from 2003-2008 as well as engagement in 2013-2014. The portfolio will build on these initiatives by continuing to provide assistance for strengthening Parliamentary committee functions, including mainstreaming of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda into the work of parliament; and improving civic engagement in key processes.

Rule of Law and Access to Justice: This service line of the portfolio will contribute to improved ability of justice sector institutions to deliver people-centered services, especially upholding the rights of excluded and vulnerable groups. The portfolio builds on UNDP’s long-standing work and partnerships with national justice sector institutions and service-providers, both state and non-state.

UNDP has been supporting the justice sector since 2004, with a focus on criminal justice. Building on results and partnerships, UNDP proposes to take forward its work in specific areas in collaboration with key state and non-state actors.

Organizational setting

This position will be based partly at the Parliament of Sri Lanka and partly at UNDP.

In relation to the Parliament Component the Project Specialist will be expected to consult and seek the guidance of the Secretary General of Parliament and UNDP Sri Lanka’s Policy Specialist (Governance and Peace Building) on substantive issues. In relation to Rule of Law and Access to Justice,, the Project Specialist will work with the guidance of the Senior Technical Specialist, Access to Justice, Rule of Law and Human Rights on substantive issues. The Project Specialist will ultimately report to the Project Manager for management and contractual purposes.

Given changes to programming due to the country’s fluid operational context, the Project Specialist may be assigned and/or reassigned different outputs falling under the SDG 16 Portfolio considering his/her workload. The substantive guidance arrangements for this contract may also change but will continue to be subject to the requirement of reporting to the Project Manager for management and contractual purposes. Any such changes will be discussed with the Project Specialist and formally communicated.

Duties and Responsibilities

Effective and efficient management of assigned outputs, taking responsibility for overall performance and delivery of outputs and results as per the portfolio/project document and/or Project Board decisions. This includes programme planning, budgeting, implementation and monitoring.

In relation to both projects the Project Specialist will be expected to inter alia:

  • Assist the Project Manager to prepare and consolidate the overall budget, monitor expenditure in accordance with UNDP financial rules and cost-recovery policies, and implement adequate internal control.
  • Support to prepare budgets, budget forecasts, budget revisions and financial reports.
  • Assist the Project Manager to Ensure compliance of programme and operations activities with UN/UNDP rules, regulations and policies; implementation of programme and operations strategies; establishment of management targets; and monitoring of the achievement of results.
  • Apply principles of gender and social inclusion as cross-cutting factors in every aspect of project implementation and management.
  • Assist the Project Manager to analyse and identify any issue that requires the attention of the Project Board and/or UNDP, and prepare succinct briefs for discussion.
  • Monitor the day-to-day progress of the project based on work plans. Regularly update the risk log, human resource plan and procurement plan.
  • Assist the Project Manager, with the support of the UNDP Country Office, oversee all the recruitment and procurement needs of the project as per approved human resource and procurement plans.
  • Assist the Project Manager to manage the selection of appropriate government and civil society partners in the implementation of the project. Monitor the work of sub-contractors to ensure the delivery of quality work.
  • Assist the Project Manager to prepare annual and quarterly progress reports as well as other reports for the Project Board, UNDP, development partners and other stakeholders, as required.
  • Assist the Project Manager, based on the M&E framework in the project document and strategic planning exercises, help develop and refine indicators, baselines and targets for the effective implementation of the project.
  • Assist the Project Manager to identify challenges to timely implementation and identify mitigation strategies in consultation with the Policy Specialist (Governance and Peace building), and the Senior Technical Specialist, Access to Justice, Rule of Law and Human Rights
  • In addition, the Project Specialist will be expected to carry out the following tasks specific to each project.

In relation to the Parliament component;

  • Assist the Project Manager to lead and facilitate coordination efforts with other implementing partners providing support to Parliament.
  • Assist the Project Manager in the preparation of annual and quarterly work plans, in consultation with the Secretary General of Parliament, UNDP and ultimately the Project Board
  • Assist the Project Manager to organize regular Project Board meetings in consultation with the Secretary General and UNDP Country Office, and ensure the implementation of the Project Board’s decisions.

In relation to the Access to Justice component;

  • The Project Specialist will work under the technical guidance of the Senior Technical Specialist, Access to Justice, Rule of Law and Human rights, in implementing day to day activities of the Justice sector assessment and on strengthening Continuing Legal Education (CLE)
  • Liaise with working groups, research institutes to ensure completion of activities
  • Liaise with Academic Institutions, Legal Institutions to identify the needs of CLE
  • Participate in fieldwork, consultations and public perception surveys
  • Organize progress review meetings with relevant stakeholders on the Assessment on Access to Justice

Facilitate technical assistance and knowledge management:

  • Source technical assistance and policy advice through UNDP Sri Lanka Country Office and UNDP Regional Hub.
  • Ensure synergies between the project and other UNDP/UN programmes/projects.
  • Facilitate knowledge-building and management. Ensure that project lessons learned and best practices are captured and documented to inform project management decisions, as well as wider policies and programmes.
  • Analyse results and lessons learned and recommend strategies for improved delivery of project outputs and results.
  • Advocacy and rapport-building
  • Facilitate and support capacity-building.
  • Participate in meetings, workshops, seminars, etc., as required.
  • Maintain regular communication and coordination with the Parliamentary Secretariat to implement project activities in a timely manner. Facilitate a good working relationship and collaboration between Parliament and UNDP.

Partnership-building and resource mobilization:

  • Develop partnerships with government institutions, UN Agencies, development partners, civil society organizations, private sector, etc., with a view to achieving the results of the project.
  • Support the mobilization of resources from traditional and non-traditional development partners.
  • Assist the Parliament Secretariat in ensuring all development partners supporting Parliament plan their activities and outputs around a common results framework and annual work plan.
  • Consolidate results from the assistance provided by all development partners within a common results framework.
  • Ensure the formulation and implementation of a M&E framework that measures quantitative as well as qualitative results, including outcomes and impact of the activities that have been carried out by key development partners assisting Parliament.
  • Assist in partnership building – liaise with stakeholders and working groups and maintain good relationships
  • Support initiatives aimed at supporting continuing legal education in Sri Lanka


Technical Competencies

  • A good understanding of the governance structure and systems in the country.
  • Sound project management and coordination skills.
  • Knowledge of human and financial resources management, procurement, and general administration.
  • Ability to lead teams effectively and demonstrates mentoring as well as conflict resolution skills.
  • Openness to change and ability to manage complexities.
  • Theoretical and/or practical knowledge (preferably both) of Parliamentary procedure and practice would be a distinct advantage.
  • Strong analytical skills.
  • Strong verbal and written English communication skills.
  • Good understanding of the Justice sector in the country and the general challenges in relation to equal access to justice.
  • Previous experience with working with stakeholders in the Justice sector would be an advantage.


  • Proven networking, team building, organizational and communications skills.
  • Ability to engage effectively with Parliamentary leadership.
  • Ability to engage effectively with other implementing agencies supporting/linked to Parliament, including government institutions, other UN agencies, multilateral and bilateral development partners, civil society organizations, the private sector, etc.
  • Ability to build strong relationships with all partners, focusing on impact and results for the client.


  • Ability to lead strategic planning, and results-based management and reporting.
  • Promotes knowledge management in Parliament, and a learning environment in the office through leadership and personal example.
  • Actively works towards continuing personal learning and development in relevant practice areas, and applies newly acquired skills.

Required Skills and Experience


  • Master’s degree or equivalent in political science, social sciences, public administration, law, development studies or other relevant field.
  • A Bachelor's Degree or equivalent in political science, social sciences, public administration, law, development studies or other relevant field with a minimum of 3 years’ relevant work experience managing and/or coordinating programs/project.


  • Strong background of working in the Justice Sector. Good understanding of challenges in relation to access to justice
  • Experience in working with Government actors in the Justice sector would be an advantage
  • Experience in working on research projects. Experience in fieldwork and conducting assessments
  • Experience in Parliament, parliamentary development support and/or policy reform processes will be an advantage.
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a team environment, effectively manage a team, and motivate its members and other project counterparts to effectively work towards the project’s expected outputs and outcomes.
  • Good communication skills, and competence to handle the project’s internal and external relations at all levels.
  • Familiarity and prior experience in working in accordance with policies and guidelines of UNDP or a similar development agency is an asset.

Language Proficiency: Fluency in English, including excellent written and verbal communication skills, as well as a working knowledge of Sinhala and/or Tamil is essential.


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