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National Programme Officer (Social and Human Sciences)

Sri Lanka

  • Organization: UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • Location: Sri Lanka
  • Grade: Junior level - NO-B, National Professional Officer - Locally recruited position
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Scientist and Researcher
    • Project and Programme Management
  • Closing Date: Closed


Post Number : 4LKSHS0001PA

Grade : NOB

Parent Sector : Social and Human Sciences Sector

Duty Station: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Standard Duration of Assignement: 1 year

Job Family: Social and Human Sciences

Type of contract : Project Appointment

Duration of contract : One year (Renewable)

Recruitment open to : External and Internal Candidates

Application Deadline (Midnight Paris Time) : 8-JULY-2024


UNESCO Core Values: Commitment to the Organization, Integrity, Respect for Diversity, Professionalism


Only Nationals of Sri Lanka can apply for this post

Duration of contract: 1 year with the possibility of extension subject to availability of funds and satisfactory performance


UNESCO is committed to supporting Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka in achieving the 2030 Development Agenda for Sustainable Development by building inclusive, just, and peaceful societies. This involves promoting freedom of expression, cultural diversity, education for global citizenship, and protecting heritage while addressing social inequalities and combating discrimination, racism, and hate speech. UNESCO focuses on mobilising rights-based knowledge and ethical principles to foster social inclusion, cohesion, and peacebuilding. Leveraging its expertise, UNESCO assists Member States in promoting participatory societies, enhancing intercultural dialogue, engaging young people, and advancing inclusive social development. The organisation's strategic approach, as outlined in UNESCO's Medium-Term Strategy (C/4s), the approved Programme and Budget (C/5), emphasises effective social policies, human rights, scientific freedom, and tackling all forms of discrimination to achieve peacebuilding and social cohesion, contributing to the overarching goal of sustainable development. 


The PBF project aims to support Sri Lanka in achieving a peaceful, inclusive, and just response to its economic crisis through inclusive social dialogue at national and local levels. The project focuses on building institutional capacities for structured, gender-responsive, inclusive, and constructive dialogue and dispute resolution. The overarching goal is to promote economic inclusion, social cohesion, and sustained peace in the face of ongoing economic and social challenges. Outcome 3 led by UNESCO and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will focus on enhancing the engagement of women, youth, and other under-represented workers in the informal economy with District and National Level Policy Making structures aimed towards highlighting concerns faced by marginalised communities and facilitating inclusive and gender-responsive peaceful dispute resolutions.   


Interventions for this project will be guided by the data for Sri Lanka from UNESCO’s Framework for Enabling Intercultural Dialogue which shows that whilst many of the preconditions for intercultural dialogue to thrive towards peacebuilding objectives are strong in the country, comparing favourably to the world average – including horizontal equality, freedom of expression, and governance and citizenship – challenges remain in critical areas, including as relates to inclusion and representation, social cohesion, and to a lesser extent leadership and organization. 

Long Description

The National Programme Officer (NPO) will be part of the UNESCO South Asia Regional Office in New Delhi (hereinafter UNESCO New Delhi) but based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, specifically contributing to the implementation of Outcome 3 of the Peace Building Fund (PBF)-funded joint project titled ‘Social Dialogue for Peace and Crisis Prevention in Sri Lanka’. Under the functional authority of the Director of the UNESCO New Delhi Regional Office, the NPO will operate under the direct supervision of the Programme Specialist and Head of Social and Human Sciences Programme Sector in UNESCO New Delhi. The NPO will work in close collaboration with ILO and UNFPA as well as other UN agencies, national and local government bodies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), implementing partners, and community-based organizations involved in the project.

The NPO will lead overall project management leading implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), and reporting efforts in coordination with other UN agencies as well as UNESCO’s implementing partners while contributing to the frameworks of UNESCO's Medium-Term Strategy (C/4s), the approved Programme and Budget (C/5) and according to global development plans such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Agenda 2030.

Long Description

Main duties and responsibilities


1.    Coordination and implementation of the project:

•    Lead overall project management and provide overall programme advisory support to Implementation Partners and local stakeholders.
•    Facilitate effective communication and coordination with other UN agencies, implementing partners, and stakeholders to ensure cohesive and integrated project implementation.
•    Develop and manage detailed work plans, budgets, and timelines for project activities 
•    Support the various activities undertaken by the project and coordinate with relevant stakeholders in finalising the project’s deliverables.
•    Support the development of capacity development programmes on intercultural competencies, with a focus on promote economic inclusion and social cohesion.

2.    Monitoring and Reporting:
•    Design and implement a robust M&E framework to track progress against project objectives and outcomes and provide guidance to Implementation Partners for effective monitoring. 
•    Collect, analyse, and report data on project performance, ensuring gender and age-disaggregated data collection in coordination with Implementation Partners and local government stakeholders.
•    Conduct regular field visits to monitor project activities and engage with stakeholders. 
•    Participate in periodic monitoring meetings with implementation and government partners.
•    Prepare comprehensive project reports, including Annual and Semi-annual project progress reports, ensuring timely submission to donors and stakeholders. 
•    Document and share best practices, lessons learned, and success stories from project implementation.

3.    Financial Management
•    Lead financial monitoring and manage budgets, administration and procurement-related matters and functions in accordance with UNESCO rules and regulations.
•    Coordinate the contracting of project services to implementing agencies, ensuring compliance with UN procedures; oversee the release of funds to counterparts, liquidation of funds and other processes.

Long Description COMPETENCIES (Core / Managerial) Communication (C) Accountability (C) Innovation (C) Knowledge sharing and continuous improvement (C) Planning and organizing (C) Results focus (C) Teamwork (C) Professionalism (C) - For detailed information, please consult the UNESCO Competency Framework. REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS

•    Advanced university degree (Master’s or equivalent) in the relevant field of social and human sciences, political sciences, development studies, public administration, or a related discipline.

Work Experience
•    Minimum 2 (two) years of progressively responsible experience in programme management (technical and financial), including programme design, programme coordination, monitoring and evaluation of activities and budget, donor reporting.
•    Experience in working at the national and/or international level on social cohesion, peace-building, intercultural dialogue.

Skills and Competencies
•    Proven organizational and coordination skills, ability to take initiative, establish priorities, monitor own work plans, budget and report on actions and projects.
•    Strong project management skills.
•    Good interpersonal and communication skills; ability to deal efficiently with partners at different levels.
•    Ability to work effectively in a multicultural team environment.
•    Capacity to adapt and adjust work schedules and perform diligently under pressure.
•    Excellent knowledge management with an understanding of emerging communication and information technologies and their potential uses.

•    Excellent knowledge of English and either one of the local languages (Sinhala / Tamil).


Work Experience

•    Experience in UNESCO’s Programmes and/or normative tools in the field of Social and Human Sciences.
•    Experience with the United Nations System, multilateral settings/cooperation and development.
•    Experience with inter-agency mechanisms of the United Nations System.

Skills and Competencies

•    Knowledge of cross-cutting principles such as Gender, Human Rights-based approaches to development, Conflict Sensitivity and Do-No-Harm approaches and disability inclusion.
•    Experience in leading teams effectively.
•    Familiarity with the United Nations system and its coordination mechanism is an advantage.
•    Knowledge of the geopolitical context of the South Asia region.


•    Knowledge of another official language of UNESCO (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish).


UNESCO’s salaries consist of a basic salary and other benefits which may include if applicable: 30 days annual leave, family allowance, medical insurance, pension plan etc.

The approximate annual starting salary for this post is 6547840 Rupees.

For full information on benefits and entitlements, please consult our Guide to Staff Benefits.


Please note that all candidates must complete an on-line application and provide complete and accurate information. To apply, please visit the UNESCO careers website. No modifications can be made to the application submitted.

The evaluation of candidates is based on the criteria in the vacancy notice, and may include tests and/or assessments, as well as a competency-based interview. 

UNESCO uses communication technologies such as video or teleconference, e-mail correspondence, etc. for the assessment and evaluation of candidates.

Please note that only selected candidates will be further contacted and candidates in the final selection step will be subject to reference checks based on the information provided.


UNESCO recalls that paramount consideration in the appointment of staff members shall be the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, technical competence and integrity. UNESCO applies a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of harassment. UNESCO is committed to achieving and sustaining equitable and diverse geographical distribution, as well as gender parity among its staff members in all categories and at all grades. Furthermore, UNESCO is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Candidates from non- and under-represented Member States (last update here) are particularly welcome and strongly encouraged to apply. Individuals from minority groups and indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the highest level of confidentiality. Worldwide mobility is required for staff members appointed to international posts.

UNESCO does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process.

This vacancy is now closed.