E (most hardship)
Non FamilyDanger Pay
Residential location (if applicable)
Staff Member / Affiliate Type
Regular > Regular Assignment
February 16, 2023
Senior Communications Officer
Organizational Setting and Work Relationships
In line with its Global Communications Strategy, UNHCR requires skilled communications professionals to conceive and execute a range of activities that help us lead the narrative on forced displacement, generate empathy and mobilize action. This body of work spans communications strategy and coordination, news and media relations, multimedia content production, social media engagement, Goodwill Ambassadors and other influencers, public outreach and campaigns, fundraising, analytics and brand.
UNHCR¿s Senior Communications Officers need to cultivate a keen understanding of our target audiences¿including an up-to-the-minute grasp of the methods and tone of voice that resonate deeply, win trust and spark quality engagement. They must be vigilant about editorial and journalistic standards, attentive to protection concerns and political sensitivities, and focused on communicating successfully with key demographics. These audiences will vary by location, language and platform, among other factors, as well as whether the aim is to inform, advocate or raise funds.
Senior Communications Officers¿ functions, working relationships and skills specializations differ depending on language, location, grade, and whether they sit within a country operation, a regional bureau or the Global Communications Service. UNHCR¿s primary target audiences include public, media and policymakers, while our main partners and influencers include peers and private sector, trusted figures and our own workforce. Some communicators will focus mainly on news and media relations, for example, while others will produce multimedia content, manage social media accounts or lead advocacy campaigns. Forging partnerships with media outlets that reach target audiences is a central role for all Senior Communications Officers.
All Senior Communications Officers are expected to work strategically in support of UNHCR¿s operational and communications objectives for their geographic area of responsibility (AoR) as well as global priorities. Communications approaches should reflect our core values as an organization that is caring, trustworthy, proactive, outcome-focused and responsive. This will reinforce UNHCR¿s role as the lead agency that protects refugees, internally displaced and stateless people and mobilizes action to provide solutions.¿
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.
- Develop and implement communications strategies for countries, situations and special projects; identify thematic priorities and target audiences to meet UNHCR¿s global communications objectives.
- Monitor news and popular trends to insert UNHCR¿s messaging into ongoing conversations; identify key moments for proactive communications.
- Forge strategic partnerships with individuals and organizations who can help produce and promote UNHCR content, activities and messaging as well as provide research insights to improve communications; promote the work of engaged businesses and civil society actors.
- Develop news-driven and authoritative content to lead the narrative on forced displacement and show UNHCR¿s impact (e.g. interviews, press releases, flagship reports, speeches), create emotive storytelling to generate empathy (e.g. stories, multimedia content) and mobilize action by signposting concrete steps people can take to help refugees (e.g. digital diplomacy, action-driven campaigns, fundraising).
- Ensure content created reaches maximum impact by developing strategies for distribution from the outset, boosting the visibility of our content on relevant UNHCR channels and placing it on external channels.
- Closely monitor the implementation of communications projects and adjust accordingly. Benchmark the results of communications projects against set success indicators; build on communications successes.
Additional duties for news and media roles:
- Strategically lead UNHCR¿s media relations work for designated AoR and thematic issues, working with international and national media, acting as a UNHCR spokesperson for their respective areas, doing interviews, speaking on behalf of the Organization at press events, handling media queries and providing comment. Maintaining close coordination with focal points in headquarters, bureaux, and country offices.
- Working in collaboration with Senior Management and assigned focal points, lead development and implementation of communications strategies for the assigned AoR, ensuring close alignment with UNHCR¿s Global Communications Strategy.
- Develop in-depth expertise on their assigned AoR and issues, proposing and developing communications/advocacy initiatives, plans and messaging, securing internal consensus for these, and overseeing rapid and timely implementation.
- Ensure UNHCR¿s leading share of voice in a variety of news and social media on all matters relating to refugees and others under the Organization¿s duty of care, by proposing initiatives, and using reactive, opportunistic and proactive communications.
- Draft, research, prepare, fact check, sub-edit and secure clearances for media releases (including reports, media briefing notes, fact sheets, statements and press releases), keeping in mind needs of media and public.
- Engage with media and public on social media in support of UNHCR¿s global advocacy objectives on behalf of refugees, the internally displaced and stateless people.
- Ensure messaging and other communications guidance is regularly updated and shared in a timely manner with other communications staff and UNHCR managers and representatives.
- Provide expert communications advice to senior staff, including on strategies and media relations tactics, as needed. Propose communications initiatives, secure internal support for them, and once agreed see them to completion
- Undertake missions and field trips with media and other official visitors, as well as short-notice missions to humanitarian emergencies and other situations as required, and represent UNHCR at media and public events.
- Facilitate the production of multimedia content for the assigned AoR, working with the Content Production Section within UNHCR¿s Global Communications Service as well as staff and freelance contributors.
- Seek opportunities for collaborative advocacy with partners, while ensuring UNHCR¿s distinct positioning and brand visibility.
- Ensure that media contact lists are regularly updated and that effective distribution mechanisms are in place for time-dependent communications products including press releases and statements.
- Ensure highest standards of accuracy and editorial content in all external outputs. Offer editorial guidance and coordinate training activities for communications staff;
- Continually maintain and upgrade communications skills, keeping abreast of emerging platforms and tools, and systematically reviewing media impact results and other measurement tools for learning purposes.
Additional duties for news and media roles within the Global Communications Service
- Oversee coordination of communications work for their designated regions and thematic issues, working closely with communications staff in bureaux and country offices and in collaboration with the senior communications officers/advisers in that region.
- Manage a wide network of relationships at all levels across bureaux, divisions and offices (including the Executive Office) to ensure timely internal information sharing as a foundation for grounded communications, and to build consensus around communications proposals.
- Maintain close involvement in communications recruitment and training needs for assigned regions, keeping in mind UNHCR¿s goals of employing and retaining the world¿s leading humanitarian communications expertise.
Additional duties for news and media roles within Country Offices
- Act as the primary interface on communications matters between their country office and the Global Communications Service.
- Supervise and oversee country communications team and manage related budgetary resources.
- Act as the lead for crisis communications work for countries in their region, alerting the GCS/News & Media Section¿s crisis communications lead to risk issues and ensuring close coordination.
Additional duties for news and media roles within Regional Bureaux
- Serve as primary liaison and interface for advocacy and communications matters between the Bureau and the Global Communications Service. Establish for the Bureau global positioning and advocacy priorities and timelines for these in consultation with Senior Management and assigned focal point.
- Advocate within Bureau for a positive communications culture that takes into account the political and protection landscapes for country operations and UNHCR¿s global positioning needs.
- Supervise and oversee country and regional communications teams and manage related budgetary resources.
- Perform other related duties as required.
Years of Experience / Degree Level
For P4/NOD - 9 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 8 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 7 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree
Field(s) of Education
Journalism; International Relations; Political Science;
Communications; Public Information; Media;
Film / Video; or other relevant field.
(Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk* are essential)
Certificates and/or Licenses
Relevant Job Experience
Minimum 7 years of professional experience in journalism and/or communications, mainly at international level.
Depending on the specific role, the following areas of experience may be essential or desirable: Experience developing and implementing communications strategies. Strong social media presence. Experience working on advocacy campaigns. Experience working with goodwill ambassadors and other high-profile influencers. Experience with brand management. Experience with measurement and evaluation, especially providing analysis of media coverage, social media engagement, web traffic, etc. Experience reporting, writing, editing for magazines, newspapers and websites. Experience using digital asset management systems. Experience with digital analytics and performance reporting.
CO-Drafting and Documentation
CO-International Media Contacts
CO-Preparation of key messages/talking points/speeches
CO-Video production for digital platforms (including news organizations)
CO-Journalism (incl. print, broadcast, photography, video, layout & graphics)
CO-Digital content production
(Functional Skills marked with an asterisk* are essential)
For International Professional and Field Service jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English.
For National Professional jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English and local language.
For General Service jobs: Knowledge of English and/or UN working language of the duty station if not English.
All UNHCR workforce members must individually and collectively, contribute towards a working environment where each person feels safe, and empowered to perform their duties. This includes by demonstrating no tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, harassment including sexual harassment, sexism, gender inequality, discrimination and abuse of power.
As individuals and as managers, all must be proactive in preventing and responding to inappropriate conduct, support ongoing dialogue on these matters and speaking up and seeking guidance and support from relevant UNHCR resources when these issues arise.
This is a Standard Job Description for all UNHCR jobs with this job title and grade level. The Operational Context may contain additional essential and/or desirable qualifications relating to the specific operation and/or position. Any such requirements are incorporated by reference in this Job Description and will be considered for the screening, shortlisting and selection of candidates.
Desired Candidate Profile
The incumbent should have a strong crisis communication background and experience working in comparable complex and challenging operations. Familiarity with managing high profile media queries that may impact the reputation of UNHCR is important for the position. Prior experience in journalism with a major media house will be a strong advantage.
Required languages (expected Overall ability is at least B2 level):
Occupational Safety and Health Considerations:
To view occupational safety and health considerations for this duty station, please visit this link:
Nature of Position:
Under the supervision of the Representative, the Senior Communications Officer will supervise 2 Assistant National Officers and work closely with the Senior Communications Officer who is responsible for Mass Communication activities.
Afghanistan is experiencing a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented scale, exacerbated by the critical economic crisis, high levels of poverty, natural disasters (earthquakes, drought and floods) and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 24.4 million people – 59 per cent of Afghanistan’s estimated 42 million population - urgently require humanitarian and protection assistance according to the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).
Mainly to implement the communications strategy and lead UNHCR’s media relations work for designated AoR covering UNHCR 8 Field Offices in Afghanistan. The candidate will act as a UNHCR spokesperson mainly to focus on thematic issues, working with international and national media, doing interviews, speaking on behalf of the Organization at press events, handling media queries and providing comment. Expected to maintain close coordination with focal points in Headquarters, RBAP and neighbouring country offices handling Afghan situation such as Pakistan and Iran.
UNHCR Afghanistan requires skilled communications professional to conceive and execute a range of activities that will help us lead the narrative on forced displacement, generate empathy and mobilize action. This body of work spans communications strategy and coordination of news and media relations, multimedia content production, social media engagement, Goodwill Ambassadors and other influencers, public outreach and campaigns, fundraising, analytics, and brand.
UNHCR’s Senior Communications Officers need to cultivate a keen understanding of our target audiences including an up-to-the-minute grasp of the methods and tone of voice that resonate deeply, win trust and spark quality engagement. Candidate must be vigilant about editorial and journalistic standards, attentive to protection concerns and political sensitivities, and focused on communicating successfully with key demographics particularly in a sensitive working environment as Afghanistan. These audiences will vary by location, language and platform, among other factors, as well as whether the aim is to inform, advocate or raise funds. Therefore, experience in similar previous context will be useful for Afghanistan situation.
UNHCR’s primary target audiences include public, media and policymakers, while our main partners and influencers include peers and private sector, trusted figures and our own workforce. Some communicators will focus mainly on news and media relations, for example, while others will produce multimedia content, manage social media accounts, or lead advocacy campaigns. Forging partnerships with media outlets that reach target audiences is a central role for all Senior Communications Officers.
Excellent communication and diplomatic skills in engaging the stakeholders and experience working in large-scale emergency setting with multiple humanitarian actors will be useful.
Living and Working Conditions:
Afghanistan is a high-risk country with a very complex operational environment, characterized by uncertainty and frequent security incidents. Movement by all personnel is restricted, coordinated and monitored by the security officers. UNHCR in Kabul is located within the ICON Compound on the Supreme road of the Police district 9. It occupies 40 MOSS compliant rooms for staff accommodation with each room having its own washroom and other facilities. Offices are within the ICON compound. No visits except in UN compounds and Embassies which is frustrating, stressful to cope. UNHCR and UN agencies jointly run JMS Level 1 medical clinic and satellite located in ICON. S/M on special prescription should travel with sufficient quantity. Medical facilities in Kabul include German Clinic, French Medical Institute for Mothers & Children (FMIC), Blossom Health Center and Iqarus International (AMC). COVID-19 MTF was established in ICON. Outdoor air quality is a health concern in Kabul. The degree of exposure and concentration of air pollutants can be detrimental to breathing problems, development of chronic diseases and deterioration of health status in individuals with chronic diseases. Air pollution contributes to comorbidities that are known to worsen outcomes among those infected with COVID-19. air pollution can impair lung development in infants and children; increase probability of preterm birth and delivery of new-borns with low birth weight. office provides air purifiers both in the office and accommodation. Health problems contributing to years lost to illness, disability, or premature death in the country include diet, tobacco use, high fasting glucose and high blood pressure; as well as environmental risks such as pollution and water-borne disease. Road crash, conflict, terror are major causes of injuries. security situation is unstable, volatile, unpredictable with rise 2020-2022. A daily radio check is mandatory. All movements is strictly by Armoured Vehicle or by air and no road. A 4-week R&R cycle, staff are highly encouraged not to delay. Considering the serious restrictions on staff movement, it is crucial to demonstrate a record of maintaining a positive attitude whenever confronted with adversity and restraints in social life. Staff interested in the position should be mentally, psychologically, and physically fit and ready to face situations when required to be locked down in compound bunkers for an extended period due to security incidents.
BA: Communication (Required), BA: International Relations (Required), BA: Political Science (Required)
Annual Budget OL in Operation/Office, Number of Persons of Concern Served, Number of Workforce in Operation/Work Setting, Workforce to Supervise, Working with Persons of Concern: Asylum Seekers, Working with Persons of Concern: Internally Displaced Persons, Working with Persons of Concern: Others of Concern, Working with Persons of Concern: Refugees, Working with Persons of Concern: Returned IDPs, Working with Persons of Concern: Returned Refugees, Working with Persons of Concern: Stateless
Accountability, Analytical thinking, Client & results orientation, Commitment to continuous learning, Communication, Empowering & building trust, Innovation & creativity, Judgement & decision making, Leadership, Organizational awareness, Political awareness, Strategic planning & visions, Teamwork & collaboration
Add.2 to Bi-annual Compendium 2022 - Part B
This position doesn't require a functional clearance