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Associate Protection Officer


  • Organization: UNHCR - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Location: Tapachula
  • Grade: Junior level - P-2, International Professional - Internationally recruited position
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Protection Officer (Refugee)
  • Closing Date: Closed

This vacancy is opened in the context of the Junior Professional Officer (JPO) scheme sponsored by the Government of the USA and is addressed exclusively to candidates WITH THE US NATIONALITY ORGANIZATIONAL CONTEXT. 

The current drivers of forced displacement in Northern Central America (NCA) remain in place and have been worsening in 2021. Despite the sharp decrease in new asylum applications at the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic in April 2020, from the second half of the year there was a renewed increase in applications and this trend it is continuing in 2021. In Mexico, UNHCR is supporting the Government and other actors to build a stronger asylum system that allows refugees to fully exercise their human rights, from the moment of entry into Mexico, to when a durable solution is found.

Central Americans as well as extracontinental and extraregional populations continue to cross Mexico's southern border in significant numbers to seek protection, as part of larger mixed migration movements. In the past, it has been noted that many people with international protection needs attempt to make the dangerous journey north to the United States without making an asylum claim in Mexico. As improvements have been made in the asylum system and in improving reception arrangements, as well as in the provision of local integration opportunities, the number of asylum-seekers in Mexico has increased, as has the number of people who successfully integrate.

UNHCR estimates that violence against PoC is under-reported, and generally goes unpunished. Comprehensive protection services to PoC such as legal assistance, confidential referral mechanisms, prevention and response to GBV, child protection, and psycho-social support, medical and psychiatric services are lacking in many locations, despite the work done by UNHCR through increasing the number of specialized partnerships to better meet the needs of the population.

Mexico offers a favorable legal framework for the inclusion of refugees in public services and their local integration, both in socio-economic and legal terms. Refugees are issued a permanent residence card and a social security number and a population registration number (CURP), which permits access to public services. Refugees have access to the national education and health system and enjoy the right to work.

UNHCR has strenghtened the operational presence in Southern Mexico in line with the increased arrival of asylum-seekers, and has recently opened a new sub office in the Chiapas state capital, Tuxtla Gutierrez. This office will oversee the offices in Tapachula, Palenque, Tenosique and Acayucan and provide technical support to the different offices in the region, as well as an increased coordination with the state level authorities to improve inclusion of persons of concern in public policies.



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.


- Stay abreast of political, social, economic and cultural developments that have an impact on the protection environment.
- Promote International and National Law and applicable UN/UNHCR and IASC policy, standards and codes of conduct.
- Foster their consistent and coherent interpretation and application through mainstreaming in all sectors and /or in clusters in applicable operations.
- Assist in providing comments on existing and draft legislation related to persons of concern.  
- Provide legal advice and guidance on protection issues to persons of concern; liaise with competent authorities to ensure the issuance of personal and other relevant documentation.
- Conduct eligibility and status determination for persons of concern in compliance with UNHCR procedural standards and international protection principles.
- Promote and contribute to measures to identify, prevent and reduce statelessness.
- Contribute to a country-level child protection plan as part of the protection strategy to ensure programmes use a child protection systems approach.
- Contribute to a country-level education plan.
- Implement and oversee Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all protection/solutions activities which integrate AGD sensitive procedures.
- Oversee and manage individual protection cases, including those on GBV and child protection. Monitor, and intervene in cases of refoulement, expulsion and other protection incidents through working relations with governments and other partners.
- Recommend durable solutions for the largest possible number of persons of concern through voluntary repatriation, local integration and where appropriate, resettlement.
- Assess resettlement needs and apply priorities for the resettlement of individuals and groups of refugees and other persons of concern.
- Participate in the organisation and implementation of participatory assessments and methodologies throughout the operations management cycle and promote AGD sensitive programming with implementing and operational partners.
- Contribute to and facilitate a programme of results-based advocacy through a consultative process with sectorial and/or cluster partners.
- Facilitate effective information management through the provision of disaggregated data on populations of concern and their problems. 
- Promote and integrate community-based approaches to protection and contribute to capacity-building initiatives for communities and individuals to assert their rights.
- Support activities in the area of risk management related to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, fraud, case-processing, data protection, and human rights due diligence at country level.
- Participate in initiatives to capacitate national authorities, relevant institutions and NGOs to strengthen national protection related legislation and procedures.
- Intervene with authorities on protection issues.
- Negotiate locally on behalf of UNHCR.
- Decide priorities for reception, interviewing and counselling for groups or individuals.
- Enforce compliance of staff and implementing partners with global protection policies and standards of professional integrity in the delivery of protection services.
- Enforce compliance with, and integrity of, all protection standard operating procedures.
- Perform other related duties as required.


EDUCATION/QUALIFICATION: For P2/NOB - 3 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 2 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 1 year relevant experience with Doctorate degree


3 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 2 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 1 year relevant experience with Doctorate degree.
Professional experience in the area of refugee protection, internal displacement, human rights or international humanitarian law. Good knowledge of International Refugee and Human Rights Law and ability to apply the relevant legal principles.

Field experience, including in working directly with communities. Good IT skills including database management skills.


*PR-Protection-related guidelines, standards and indicators
*LE-International Refugee Law
*PR-Age, Gender and Diversity (AGD)
PR-Gender Based Violence (GBV) Coordination
MG-Projects management
PR-PR-Human Rights Doctrine/Standards
PR-International Humanitarian Law
PR-Protection and mixed-movements
PR-Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Operations & IDPs Status/Rights/Obligation
PR-Climate change and disaster related displacement
PR-Community-based Protection
MS-Drafting, Documentation, Data Presentation


Core Competencies:
- Accountability
- Communication
- Organizational Awareness
- Teamwork & Collaboration
- Commitment to Continuous Learning
- Client & Result Orientation

In addition to the above mentioned compentecies, the ideal candidate should have:

¿ Strong interpersonal skills and ability to maintain effective working relationships with people in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and utmost respect for diversity;
¿ Discreet personality to handle confidential matters with tact, diplomacy, discretion and the respect for confidentiality;
¿ Experience of effective communication and supporting senior management, ideally at HQ headquarters and global level, is considered an asset;
¿ Demonstrated planning and organizational skills and ability to work well under pressure on multiple tasks; simultaneously, establish priorities, and deliver quality output in a most time-efficient manner in support of the team;
¿ Understanding of the complexities of working with an international organization with multiple geographical operational sites;
¿ Proven teamwork skills to work with units key to the Protection Unit;
¿ Strong client orientation skills complemented with diplomatic approach to complex issues;
¿ Knowledge of UNHCR¿s mandate, operations, Bureaux and HQ divisions is a plus;
¿ Field experience, preferably with UNHCR, or with other humanitarian or development organizations a plus;
¿ Ability to work well under pressure on multiple tasks simultaneously;
¿The incumbent must be proactive, anticipating possible challenges and working towards finding solutions with other colleagues. REQUIRED COMPETENCIES,

Code Managerial Competencies               

M001 Empowering and Building Trust
M003 Judgement and Decision Making

Code Cross-Functional Competencies      
X001 Analytical Thinking
X004 Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
X007 Political Awareness LANGUAGE KNOWLEDGE

- Essential: English, Spanish
- Desirable: SUPERVISION: The JPO will be under the direct supervision of the manager indicated under `Supervisor title and position number¿.  The supervisor will be responsible for the performance evaluation of the JPO. The manager will also ensure that the JPO is provided a thorough induction and orientation briefing, followed by on-the-job training as well as continuous guidance for training/learning opportunities throughout the assignment. In support to the manager, the JPO Unit provides the Supervisory Guidelines upon recruitment/reassignment of the JPO. TRAINING COMPONENTS AND LEARNING ELEMENTS

- Mandatory training courses:
1. Basic Security in the Field (NB: needs to be retaken every 3 years)
2. Advanced Security in the Field  (NB: needs to be retaken every 3 years)
3. Protection Induction Programme (PIP)
4. UN Course on Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Authority
5.    Orientation to IPSAS


There are many learning opportunities during the 2 years of assignmen and creativity and innovation will be fundamental for the entire duration of this JPO position.  By the end of the 2-year assignment, the incumbent will have learnt to support UNHCR's mandate having worked within the following areas of the Protection scope: XXXX LIVING CONDITIONS AT THE DUTY STATION

Housing/accommodation: Family Duty Station - B
There is a possibility of renting private accommodation, and there is a variety of furnished and unfurnished apartments for rent. The selected residence is subject to approval by the UN security, BEFORE signing the rental contract with the landlord. Preference should be given to the options where security features are already available (security infrastructure and private guards).

Health care: Adequate health facilities, hospitals are available locally, although more specialized health services are not readily available.

Educational facilities: Although Tapachula is a family duty station, education is only available in Spanish and there are no international schools.

Security: Tapachula belongs to Security Risk Management area 06, South East, with the current General Threat Level 2, LOW. There are no known direct threats to UNHCR, yet the UNHCR personnel may be affected by crime, including: homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, highway robbery. Crime is at Moderate level, and mostly indiscriminate, targeting civilians with perceived wealthy status. In Chiapas state, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), a revolutionary leftist political and militant group, is present, but is not active currently.
The state of Chiapas has the highest levels of poverty in Mexico - 65.5% of people live in poverty, most of the poor people are of indigenous origin.

Other (transports, banks, etc) Currency and exchange: Mexican Peso. Dollars, Euros and traveler's checks can be exchanged at a Currency Exchange offices. ATMs are readily available.
Internet is available almost everywhere, but in houses and offices a contract has to be made in order to access to this service.
Transportation: it is recommended to use taxis del sitio (taxi autorizado).

Civil Unrest is at Extreme level, as cases of violent demonstrations, road blockages, forced takeover of tall collection points are quite frequent.
UNHCR personnel should avoid areas of civil unrest. Tapachula is exposed to natural hazards (High Level). Cases of flooding, heavy rains and earthquakes are quite frequent.

The UNHCR personnel must remain security aware at all times, apply personal security measures and avoid movement after dark. There is no curfew in Tapachula, yet the incidence at night hours is high. While on road missions, exercise caution and always obtain Security Clearance through UNDSS COSNU, road travel at night is restricted. Road travel is recommended only on federal highways and toll roads. Please note that the closing date for this JPO advertisement is Sunday 22 May 2022 (midnight Geneva time).

This vacancy is now closed.