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Programme Specialist (Social and Human Sciences)


  • Organization: UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • Location: Paris
  • Grade: Mid level - P-4, International Professional - Internationally recruited position
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Scientist and Researcher
    • Project and Programme Management
  • Closing Date: Closed

Post Number : SHS 137

Grade : P-4

Parent Sector : Social and Human Sciences Sector (SHS)

Duty Station: Paris

Job Family: Social and Human Sciences

Type of contract : Fixed Term

Duration of contract : 2 years, renewable

Recruitment open to : Internal and external candidates

Application Deadline (Midnight Paris Time) : 26-JUN-2023


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



The focus of the Social and Human Sciences Sector (SHS) at UNESCO is to foster inclusive societies, by prioritizing policies that benefit the most vulnerable segments of our societies, who are most likely to be left behind in crisis contexts. In the face of increasing challenges linked to the unequal access to scientific knowledge and applications, the erosion of trust in science and the infringements on scientific freedom and based on UNESCO’s 2017 Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers (RS|SR), the Inclusion, Rights and Intercultural Dialogue (IRD) Section in the Sector for Social and Human Sciences is leading action towards the creation of science ecosystems that go beyond growth and productivity considerations to uphold the right to science. Particular emphasis is placed on the protection of scientific freedom and scientists building on ongoing initiatives in favor of journalists and artists, in response to the request of Member States for strengthening of efforts in this field (Document 216 EX/45). This work is integrated in the Section’s broader mandate pertaining to social inclusion, antiracism and antidiscrimination, intercultural dialogue, routes of enslaved peoples, and changing mindsets and combating harmful stereotypes and gender norms, by applying a human rights-based approach and a gender lens.

Under the overall authority of the Assistant Director-General for the Social and Human Sciences Sector (ADG/SHS), guidance from the Director for Research, Ethics and Inclusion and direct supervision of the Chief of Section, the incumbent will be responsible for the design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting on activities that advance a science vision anchored in the universal values of justice, inclusion and human rights as outlined in the 2017 UNESCO Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers and promote the mainstreaming of the right to science and scientific freedom in the programmes of the SHS Sector and the Organization as a whole.

In particular, S/he will:

  • Advance the implementation of the RS|SR through diverse interventions that respond to current trends and specific needs on the ground, thereby ensuring UNESCO’s and SHS leadership in this field, including by: developing tools and frameworks in support of statutory monitoring, national reviews and other assessment efforts, creating and brokering knowledge on priority issues linked to the 10 key areas of the Recommendation, providing technical assistance to Member States and conducting consultations with them as appropriate, furthering communication and outreach, and ensuring timely and adequate reporting to UNESCO’s governing bodies. 
  • Develop and implement the core elements of a programme on the freedom of scientific researchers, linked to the right to science and as a foundation for consolidating trust in science, by shedding light onto the concept, strengthening the evidence base on current trends and challenges across regions, creating spaces for policy dialogue and experience-sharing, notably an annual ministerial roundtable, and building the capacities of key stakeholders.    
  • Create linkages between efforts to foster the realization of the right to science and scientific freedom and converging programmes within the SHS Sector, notably in relation to the Anti-Racism Roadmap, the Transforming MEN’talities initiative, the MOST Comprehensive Strategy 2022-2029 and the ethics of Artificial Intelligence, as well as across the Organization.  
  • Build solid partnerships with renowned academic and research institutions and thinkers to inform high-level policy exchanges, including at the ministerial roundtable and set the global agenda on the right to science and the freedom of scientific researchers, thereby consolidating the Organization’s leadership in this domain; and also set strategic objectives for the mobilization of funds in support of the implementation of the RS|SR, prepare proposals, creating alliances as appropriate, and supervise the design, implementation and assessment of related projects.
  • Promote, through targeted advocacy and the development of tailored guidance, the uptake of the right to science and scientific freedom by UN human rights monitoring mechanisms, particularly the Human Rights Council and the Committee of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as in the work of the UN system, both at the global level and as a country level priority, notably in the context of efforts to attain the Sustainable Development Goals inter alia through UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks. 
  • Lead and coordinate programme planning, budgeting, contracting, activity implementation, monitoring and evaluation and reporting for activities linked to the implementation of the RS|SR and human rights mainstreaming more broadly, in line with UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy (C/4), the approved Programme and Budget (C/5), and global development plans such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Prepare briefings, statements, reports for formal reporting as required. 
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) Building partnerships (M) Driving and managing change (M) Leading and empowering others (M) Making quality decisions (M) Managing performance (M) Strategic thinking (M) - For detailed information, please consult the UNESCO Competency Framework. REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS


  • Advanced university degree (Master’s or equivalent) in the field of Social and Human Sciences.
  • Expertise in the human rights in UNESCO’s fields of competence and particularly the human rights to science. 

Work Experience

  • At least 7 years of progressive professional experience relevant to research in social sciences, social policy and social transformation of which preferably 3 years acquired at  international level. 
  • Experience in designing, implementing and coordinating strategies and activities related to capacity-building in the area of Social and Human Sciences.
  • Proven track record in fund-raising and other resource mobilization mechanisms.

Skills and competencies 

  • Recognized scientific research, publication, writing and critical thinking competencies. 
  • Strong qualitative and quantitative research skills, and project management, along with resource mobilization. 
  • Proven ability in programme management, including the monitoring and reporting of programme activities and related financial and substantive aspects. 
  • Leadership and expertise, including the ability to manage and motivate staff and teams and to maintain effective working relationships in a multicultural environment. 
  • Capacity to build and maintain effective working relations with national and international authorities, academic and non-government institutions, intergovernmental organizations, including through networking. 
  • Excellent coordination and interpersonal skills. 
  • Ability to participate effectively in high-level negotiations with internal and external partners. 
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to prepare and present findings and recommendations on issues clearly and concisely. 


  • Excellent knowledge (written and spoken) of English and good knowledge of French. 


  • A PhD in Social Sciences with a history of publications in fields including inequality and exclusion, development of population, environmental change, and society, governance of regional and global commons, or digital transformations and societal disruption.  

Work Experience 

  • Proven knowledge creation and brokering experience.
  • Professional experience in the United Nations system or other multilateral organizations and/or in the field of international relations and diplomacy, multilateral settings/cooperation and development.
  • Experience in a multilateral context.

Skills and Competencies

  • Good knowledge of UNESCO’s work, and familiarity with SHS Sector activities.
  • Familiarity with the work and general functioning of international organizations and/or the United Nations System.


  • Knowledge of other official languages of UNESCO (Arabic, Chinese, Russian and/or 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 119 469 USD.

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.
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