Social Affairs Officer, P4

UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Apply by
  • Posted
    Mar 01

Position description

Org. Setting and Reporting

This position is located in the Indigenous Peoples and Development Branch, Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (SPFII), in the Division for Inclusive Social Development (DISD) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). The Social Affairs Officer reports to the Chief of IPDB-SPFII. The IPDB-SPFII advocates for and facilitates the implementation within the UN system of the recommendations of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; promotes awareness of indigenous issues within the UN system, governments, and the broader public; and serves as a source of information and a coordination point for advocacy efforts that relate to the Permanent Forum's mandate, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and ongoing issues that arise concerning indigenous peoples, with particular emphasis on the system wide action plan on indigenous peoples and the 2030 Development Agenda.


Within delegated authority, the Social Affairs Officer will be responsible for the following duties:

  • Proposes, designs and carries out substantive research projects analyzing key trends and changes in socio-economic structures and related issues (e.g., poverty, employment, ageing, disability, family, youth, occupational, cultural, educational demographic patterns, gender issues, etc.) at global, regional and national levels, with particular emphasis on the rights of indigenous peoples; assesses implications and develops proposals with respect to social development and social welfare policies and interventions in the context of the rights and socio-economic situation of indigenous peoples.
  • Develops new lines of theoretical analysis and research methodologies for the diagnosis of major transformations in socio-economic structures.
  • Liaises and partners with experts in the field (e.g. governments, research institutes, academia, other international organizations, etc.) to discuss issues related to social development and indigenous peoples, exchanges views on latest findings, policy guidelines, new models of development, etc.; helps ensure that lessons learned are disseminated and incorporated into development programmes and other initiatives, including gender-related activities.
  • Plans, organizes and provides substantial servicing of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, as well as ad hoc expert group meetings, conferences, seminars, workshops, etc. to include identification and selection of participants, development of background documentation, preparation of reports, documents, policy recommendations and analytical briefs based on the outcome of such meetings.
  • Prepares a variety of studies, reports, background papers, parliamentary documentation, etc. on a wide range of social development and related issues, with particular emphasis on the situation of indigenous peoples.
  • Provides substantive support on social issues to intergovernmental bodies (such as the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council), with particular emphasis on indigenous peoples.
  • Represents the organizational unit at international, regional and national meetings.
  • Organizes panels, round tables, etc. on indigenous issues for intergovernmental processes.
  • Assists in the administration of the Trust Fund on Indigenous Issues
  • Provides technical assistance to governments and other bodies in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs related to socio-economic development, in the context of the rights and socio-economic situation of indigenous peoples.
  • Undertakes missions to member states, either alone or as a participant in a diverse team, as part of the Organization’s technical cooperation activities and/or in support of the work programme.
  • Prepares global, regional, national or sectoral analyses that provide a basis for advising national governments on social development issues, with particular emphasis on the rights of indigenous peoples
  • Conducts training seminars and workshops for government officials and others.
  • Assists in planning and preparation of unit budget and work program and in the administration of the day-to-day operations of the unit, including personnel responsibilities of the unit.
  • Provides leadership and work direction to assigned work team, and/or mentors and supervises the work of new/junior officers.
  • Prepares statements on indigenous issues for the Secretary-General and Under Secretary-General, as required.
  • Performs other duties as required.


  • Professionalism: Knowledge of social development; Ability to apply principles and concepts of socio-economic development in relation to government, indigenous peoples, the private sector, civil society and international organizations. Ability to apply modern techniques of analyzing social phenomena. Ability to conduct conceptual and strategic analyses. Ability to analyze and articulate the social dimension of complex issues. Ability to use sound judgment in applying technical expertise to resolve a wide range of complex issues/problems. Knowledge of regions or countries with indigenous peoples, including the political, economic and social dimensions. Ability to relate socio-economic issues, trends and perspectives, including gender issues, to social development initiatives/programmes in affected country/region. Ability to have strong negotiating skills and ability to influence others to reach agreement. Ability to work under pressure. Knowledge of institutional mandates, policies and guidelines pertaining to social affairs and to indigenous issues. Knowledge of the institutions of the UN system. Ability to complete in-depth studies and to formulate conclusions/recommendations and have excellent research skills. 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.
  • Teamwork: Works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve organizational goals; solicits input by genuinely valuing others’ ideas and expertise; is willing to learn from others; places team agenda before personal agenda; supports and acts in accordance with final group decision, even when such decisions may not entirely reflect own position; shares credit for team accomplishments and accepts joint responsibility for team shortcomings.


Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent degree) in sociology, law, economics, other social science or related field is required. A first-level university degree in combination with additional two years of qualifying work experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Work Experience

A minimum of seven years of progressively responsible experience in socio economic development, policy analysis, sociological research or related area is required. Experience with policy analysis and sociological research on the rights, socio-cultural and economic situation of indigenous peoples is required. Experience providing support to intergovernmental processes, including support to intergovernmental negotiations is desirable. Experience in capacity-development and/or technical cooperation projects is also desirable.


English and French are the working languages of the UN Secretariat. For this post, fluency in English is required. Knowledge of French or Spanish or Russian is desirable.

Application instructions

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