Senior Humanitarian Affairs Officer

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, New York, United States

Skill Required:, Project/ Programme Management
Preferred Experience: 
Above 10 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 
27th October, 2020

Job Description

This position is located in the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC) in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The Humanitarian Affairs Officer, Chief of Staff reports to the USG/ERC and will be responsible to support the USG/ERC in all of his functions, including by ensuring the efficient and effective functioning of OCHA.

OCHA is the part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. OCHA also ensures there is a framework within which each actor can contribute to the overall response effort.


Within delegated authority, the Senior Humanitarian Affairs Officer, Chief of Staff (CoS) will be responsible for the following duties:

  • Support the USG/ERC in the overall executive direction and management of OCHA by advising on policy, operational, administrative and management matters, including staffing;
  • Provides authoritative substantive, technical, administrative and policy advice to the USG/ERC and senior management in OCHA and other agencies in the UN system, Member
  • State officials, international and regional organizations on the implementation of OCHA's mandate in line with the humanitarian principles; supports the USG/ERC in the development of programmes, projects and issues of significant impact on humanitarian, emergency relief and disaster response/management efforts according to OCHA's overall strategy and plan of action to ensure results-oriented fulfillment of OCHA's mandate under General Assembly, Security Council and ECOSOC resolutions, including on humanitarian coordination, advocacy, information management, humanitarian finance and policy development.
  • Monitors the performance of the institution's humanitarian mandate; influences the development and evolution of the UN’s approach to humanitarian affairs; designs and
  • implements significant policy and programme changes to address country, regional, global humanitarian affairs issues, including gender considerations; conceptualizes the linkages with the political and peacekeeping functions in the Secretariat.
  • Develops and ensures the implementation of coherent humanitarian/disaster response strategies and procedures.
  • Conceptualizes, formulates and manages major projects; leads and directs a multi-agency team in carrying out disaster assessment or other missions; initiates, mobilizes and
  • coordinates international humanitarian/emergency assistance for exceptionally complex situations or major disasters; ensures necessary support (e.g. staff, funding, specialized equipment, supplies, etc.); prepares situation reports to the international community, apprising of situation to date and specifying unmet requirements of stricken countries.
  • Manages the production of appeals for international assistance; ensures the proper use and spending of donor contributions channeled through OCHA.
  • Leads capacity building initiatives; identifies bottlenecks and gaps and develops proposals to improve response systems and mechanisms, to include technical assistance in the design of
  • specific coordination and other systems/mechanisms; organizes and participates as trainer/resource person in national and international training seminars.
  • Fosters teamwork and communication among staff in OCHA, serves as primary liaison with non-UN entities, including senior host government officials, donor representatives, NGO officials, the media, etc., in emergency situations;
  • Establishes overall work plan and budget for Office of the USG/ ERC.;
  • Leads and directs a team of staff; oversee the evaluation of OCHA's activities, including monitoring of programme performance; appraises official reports and documentation prepared
  • by OCHA and ensures their accuracy and consistency with OCHA strategy before approval by the USG/ERC; plans and allocates work assignments; coaches, mentors and evaluates staff; participates in recruitment, selection and training of new staff and in the development of training programs.;
  • Ensures coordination and cooperation among the substantive functional areas of OCHA.
  • Initiates, supervises and finalizes position papers and related submissions; prepares diverse reports, papers, policy guidelines, statements, presentations, etc. for senior management.



Knowledge of full range of humanitarian and emergency relief assistance and related human rights issues. Ability to advise senior management and other senior officials on approaches and techniques to address highly complex/sensitive issues. Demonstrated capacity for intellectual leadership; conceptual and strategic analytical capacity and ability to thoroughly analyze and evaluate critical matters pertaining to a broad spectrum of humanitarian and emergency relief issues/problems. Demonstrated capacity for original and creative thinking, independent judgment and discretion in advising on and handling major policy, project and other issues/problems. Ability to negotiate and ability to influence others to reach agreement on difficult issues. Ability to work under extreme pressure, on occasion in a highly stressful environment (e.g. civil strife, natural disasters and human misery). Knowledge of institutional mandates, policies and guidelines related to humanitarian affairs and seasoned knowledge of the institutions of the UN system. 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.


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.


Actively seeks to improve programmes or services; offers new and different options to solve problems or meet client needs; promotes and persuades others to consider new ideas; takes calculated risks on new and unusual ideas; thinks “outside the box”; takes an interest in new ideas and new ways of doing things; is not bound by current thinking or traditional approaches.

Managerial Competencies


Serves as a role model that other people want to follow: empowers others to translate vision into results; is proactive in developing strategies to accomplish objectives; establishes and maintains relationships with a broad range of people to understand needs and gain support; anticipates and resolves conflicts by pursuing mutually agreeable solutions; drives for change and improvements; does not accept the status quo; shows the courage to take unpopular stands. Provides leadership and takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work; demonstrates knowledge of strategies and commitment to the goal of gender balance in staffing.


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 impacts of decisions prior to making them; takes decisions with an eye to the 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 the actions proposed will satisfy the expressed and underlying needs for the decision; makes tough decisions when necessary.


  • Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent degree) in political science, social science, international studies, public administration, economics, engineering, earth sciences 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

  • A minimum of ten years of progressively responsible experience in humanitarian affairs, emergency preparedness, crisis/emergency relief management, rehabilitation, development, or other related area, is required.
  • Experience working in public administration is desirable.
  • Field experience in the relevant area, in the context of a complex emergency is desirable.
  • Field experience within the UN Common System or other international organization is desirable.
  • Experience working in a front office, including in drafting and reviewing correspondence and briefing materials for senior officials of an international organization, including UN, is desirable.
  • Experience managing budgets is desirable.
  • At least four years of experience advising and supporting senior officials is desirable.
  • Experience of working in more than one organization/entity is desirable.


  • English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For the post advertised, fluency in English is required. Knowledge of French is desirable. Knowledge of another UN official language is desirable.


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