Scientific Affairs Officer (Synthetic Drugs), P3

UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
  • Location
    Vienna, Austria
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Apply by
  • Posted
    Sep 12

Position description

Org. Setting and Reporting

The position is located in the Laboratory and Scientific Section (LSS), Research and Trend Analysis Branch (RAB), Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs (DPA), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The incumbent will work under the direct supervision of the Chief, Laboratory and Scientific Section (LSS).


Within limits of assigned authority, the Scientific Affairs Officer (Synthetic Drugs) will undertake activities in the context of the on-going Forensic and Scientific work programme of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), designed to maintain and strengthen capabilities of national drug testing and forensic laboratories, and to enhance the capacity of Member States to provide scientific support to drug control and crime prevention activities. The incumbent will be responsible for the following duties:

  • Contribute to activities to strengthen the capacity of drug analysis laboratories in the identification and analysis of substances under international control, new psychoactive substances, and their metabolites and precursor chemicals;
  • Provide substantive scientific guidance to the continuing development of the UNODC Early Warning Advisory on New Psychoactive Substances, including its toxicology module;
  • Promote the use of forensic laboratory analytical data, including toxicology data in early warning systems in the review process for changing the scope of control of substances under the three international drug control conventions. Enrich trend analysis of drug markets;
  • Support the operational supply reduction activities of UNODC Programmes and those of international partners. Provide scientific support to national law enforcement counternarcotic efforts aimed at detecting, identifying and controlling substances of abuse;
  • Promote the use of good laboratory practices. Assist with the establishment of quality assurance procedures, guidelines and policies. Contribute to the development of new approaches for improving laboratory performance. Coordinate and substantively backstop the development of training courses and materials;
  • Draft substantive guidelines for procedures in line with findings and identified best practices. Disseminate reports to participating laboratories, relevant Government agencies and other interested partners;
  • Prepare/draft a variety of written outputs, such as background papers, analyses, briefings, presentations, regular and ad-hoc reports, studies, responses to internal/external requests for scientific information particularly on synthetic drugs, including new psychoactive substances. Draft parts, or contribute to the preparation, of progress and assessment reports, appraisals, work plans. Liaise on relevant substantive issues with counterparts in UN and UNODC, both in Vienna and in the field, officials of other organizations and specialized agencies;
  • Perform other work related duties, as required.


  • Professionalism: Has knowledge and understanding of theories, concepts and approaches relevant to scientific areas of drug control. Has knowledge of policies and practices in international drug control, as well as the mandates of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Has knowledge of major aspects of the work of analytical/forensic laboratories and of UNODC’s activities in this. Has knowledge of various research methodologies and sources, including electronic sources on the internet, intranet and other databases. Is able to analyse data, conduct complex evaluations and propose meaningful actions to improve performance. 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;
  • Communication: 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;
  • Client Orientation: Considers all those to whom services are provided to be “clients” and seeks to see things from clients’ point of view; establishes and maintains productive partnerships with clients by gaining their trust and respect; identifies clients’ needs and matches them to appropriate solutions; monitors ongoing developments inside and outside the clients’ environment to keep informed and anticipate problems; keeps clients informed of progress or setbacks in projects; meets timeline for delivery of products or services to client.


An advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in organic, analytical or pharmaceutical chemistry is required. 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 five years of progressively responsible professional experience in the field of drugs, technical/scientific areas of drug control with proven experience in scientific laboratory research is required. Specialized practical experience in and knowledge of drug analysis and quality assurance is required. Working experience in the development and implementation of quality assurance programmes is required. Working experience at the international level in areas related to drug analysis and quality assurance is an advantage. Working experience in programme and project development and monitoring is desirable. Familiarity and practical experience in education and training activities is an advantage. Experience in and knowledge of programme policies, guidelines and procedures in an international Organization and/or the United Nations system is an advantage.


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this post, fluency in English is required. Knowledge of French or Spanish is desirable. Working knowledge of other UN official languages is an asset.

Application instructions

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