Researcher - Artificial Intelligence

The United Nations University
  • Location
    Macau, China
  • Sector
  • Experience
    Early Career / Mid Career
  • Posted
    May 24

Position description

UNU is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge in furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. The mission of UNU is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations and its Member States.

For the past four decades, UNU has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on human survival, conflict prevention, sustainable development, and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 12 countries, UNU's work spans the 17 Sustainable Development Goals' full breadth, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.

About UNU Institute in Macau (UNU Macau)

UNU Institute in Macau (UNU Macau) is one of 13 research and training Institutes that comprise the think tanks in the UNU system. UNU Macau is a research institute at the intersections of digital technology and sustainable development. The Institute conducts policy-relevant research and generates solutions, addressing pressing challenges expressed in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through high-impact innovations and the latest technologies. Through its research, the UNU Institute in Macau encourages data-driven and evidence-based actions and policies to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

One of the Institute’s missions is to nurture the next generation of interdisciplinary computing, information and social scientists, and engineers to be leaders in the field of ICT for development. To this end, the institute seeks to build a team of experts to help deliver the institute’s mission and work plan. The Institute’s research tends to be more applied, and strives for policy impact in the UN system, at international, regional and national levels.

The UNU Institute in Macau is situated in the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, and it is the only UN entity in the city. Macau is one of the most dynamic regions in Asia, where technological innovations have become an integral part in driving social and economic change. Macau is part of the Greater Bay Area (GBA), that hosts many private sector companies and technological giants that are just a short distance away. Its proximity to China, Hong Kong SAR and other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, provides an exciting opportunity for researchers and experts to maximize the impact of their work.


The UNU Institute in Macau’s research team consists of a dynamic and highly professional group of multi-disciplinary researchers from across the world. The research team works collaboratively to seek big-sized research grants and conduct research projects together for policy impact. The Institute has recently developed its Strategic Plan (2021-2025), where systems thinking, and participatory approaches are the two major pillars of the research portfolio (see for details).

Under the guidance and direct supervision of the Head of Research, and the overall guidance of the Director of the Institute, successful candidates will be entrusted with the following tasks:

1. Implement the Institute’s Strategic Plan and conduct research by achieving the following results:

• Develop research activities while aligning them with the research priorities set out in the Institute’s Strategic Plan (2021-2025); and
• Jointly develop research activities with the wider team in the Institute, striving for policy impact in the UN system, at international, regional and national levels.

2. Resource mobilization and grant management by achieving the following results:

• Build partnership with key stakeholders, and actively seek fundraising opportunities;
• Contribute to fundraising efforts with other researchers and individually, and meet targets set out in the Institute strategic plan and benchmarks and indicators;
• Initiate and implement grant initiatives under the supervision of a Senior Researcher (Team Lead);
• Ensure grant requirements are fulfilled, and reports are submitted on time;
• Comply with donor agreements when using the grants; and
• Support supervisor and Institute Finance on grant administration.

3. Exercise the highest professional and ethical standards when conducting research, and ensure high quality research outputs by achieving the following results:

• Draft and submit periodic reports on their research activities;
• Create diverse written products related to the research projects or areas of expertise, such as academic papers in high-ranking peer-reviewed journals, blogs, op-eds, policy briefs, and UN reports;
• Support the Communications team of the institute in providing outputs for social media and platforms; and
• Demonstrate professionalism, flexibility and ability to work to realistic deadlines, creative thinking, results-driven, foreseeing risks and allowing for contingencies when planning.

4. Lead and contribute to the training, learning and education projects of the Institute; take a key role in coordinating the UNU AI Network:

• Develop training courses and deliver them to audiences such as university students, relevant government officials, UN system staff, and private sector participants;
• Contribute to the creation of a joint master’s degree program;
• Take a leading role in organizing the UNU AI Network, by coordinating activities among members, develop new partnership.

5. Communicate research accomplishments at academic conferences, and especially high-impact international venues (e.g. UN conferences) by achieving the following results:

• Identify, participate and present at high impact conferences organized by the UN and academic partners. Increase UNU visibility;
• Actively participate in and take initiatives to organize Institute events, in line with the Institute priorities

6. Perform other tasks as assigned by the Head of Research and/or the Director.

Key performance indicators

• Timely and quality development and implementation of the Institute’s strategy, research programmes, projects and workplans.
• Timely and quality delivery on operational goals.
• Timely and quality delivery of curated fundraising opportunities.
• Timely and quality research publications.
• Quality and level of engagement with partners, related networks and working groups.
• UNU Macau is seen as a reliable and trustworthy partner by research partners, governments, donors, and civil society.
• Performance of research team personnel; produces quality knowledge products.



• Inclusion — take action to create an environment of dignity and respect for all, regardless of age, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, geography, grade, language, nationality, racial identity, religion, sex, sex characteristics, sexual orientation, social origin or any other aspect of identity
• Integrity — act ethically, demonstrating the standards of conduct of the United Nations and taking prompt action in case of witnessing unprofessional or unethical behaviour, or any other breach of UN standards
• Humility — demonstrate self-awareness and willingness to learn from others
• Humanity — act according to the purposes of the United Nations: peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet


• Connect and collaborate — build positive relationships with others to advance the work of the United Nations and work coherently as One UN
• Analyse and plan — seek out and use data from a wide range of sources to understand problems, inform decision-making, propose evidence-based solutions and plan action
• Deliver results with positive impact — hold oneself and others accountable for delivering results and making a positive difference to the people and causes that the United Nations serves
• Learn and develop — pursue own learning and development and contribute to the learning and development of others
• Adapt and innovate — demonstrate flexibility, agility and the ability to think and act in novel ways


Education and certifications:

Doctoral degree (PhD) in computer science, artificial intelligence, computational social science, human-computer interaction, data science, digital technology and ethics, science and technology policy or a related field is required.

We are looking for a researcher working on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The selected candidate is expected to have a multi-disciplinary perspective on Artificial Intelligence, expertise in utilizing AI tools and techniques, and a focus on research application to meet diverse global challenges and policy-relevant issues.

Areas of expertise may include but are not limited to:

• Impacts of AI on the SDGs;
• AI and sustainability;
• AI for Good;
• Agent-based modelling, distributed AI or social simulation;
• Multicultural, cross-cultural, or cross-national aspects of AI;
• AI governance and regulation;
• AI and International Relations;
• Ethics of AI and public policy, regulatory frameworks and guidelines; ethics operationalization and contextualization;
• AI and data ethics: algorithmics biases and discrimination, accountability and transparency, synthetic data;
• AI as related to peace and security issues;
• Gender perspectives on AI.

Experience and other requirements:


• At least THREE (3) years of full-time research experience post-doctoral dissertation; Exceptions can be made for candidates with outstanding publication record, research fundraising results and/or broad UN exposure;
• With a solid research and strong background in AI and the areas of expertise mentioned in the “education and certification section”;
• A track record of academic publications;
• Good team player with strong interpersonal skills demonstrated by the ability to work in an international environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity;
• Passion for the mission of the United Nations and enthusiasm to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals;
• This position is Macau-based. Selected candidates are required to reside full-time in Macau. This is not a remote position.


• Experience working with diverse stakeholders, including public, private, non-profit and intergovernmental organizations;
• Experience in working a multi-disciplinary team;
• Experience working with the United Nations system.

Language requirements:

• Strong communication and presentation skills, along with excellent drafting skills, and fluency in English
• Knowledge of another UN official working language is an asset


The successful candidate will be employed under a PSA contract. UNU offers an attractive compensation package including locally tax-exempted salary (net annual salary from USD$36,347) commensurate with the experience and qualifications of the candidate. Benefits include 30 days annual leave and a health insurance scheme.

UNU will cover the cost of travel of the international appointees (non-Macanese residents) to the duty station at initial appointment, as well as their return to their home country/point of hire upon final completion of their services. Travel costs are covered only in the event that the function will be undertaken physically in the duty station and excludes working-from-remote arrangements.

International appointees can apply for rental subsidy shall they relocate to Macau full-time, and undertake housing arrangement in Macau, excluding working-from-remote arrangements. 

UNU is not liable for any taxes that may be levied on the remuneration you receive under this contract. Payment of any such taxes remains the sole responsibility of PSA holders.

Duration of contract

The duration of the initial contract is 1 year. This is a Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract with UNU, with the possibility for renewal subject to requirements and satisfactory work performance. The combined duration on a PSA contract with UNU may not exceed six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for PSA holders is 65 years.

Expected start date: As soon as possible 

Application instructions

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