UNHCR - Junior Professional Officer Programme

The Junior Professional Officers (JPO) programme offers young professionals the unique opportunity to obtain training and exposure to UNHCR`s humanitarian work, either on assignment or at headquarters. It brings new talent and fresh energy and ideas to the organization.

UNHCR’s JPOs are young professionals who are interested in the UN and in humanitarian work, who prove able to contribute to UNHCR`s future and its work on behalf of refugees, internally displaced people and the stateless. The areas of expertise that the organization looks for in particular are: law, public administration and social sciences.

Who can be a JPO?

JPOs are between aged between 25 and 35 and are recruited as professional staff members at P2 level. While most JPOs are citizens of their donor countries, the Netherlands may also sponsor citizens of other countries under the Developing Countries Scheme (JPO/DC). Nearly 69 per cent of JPOs continue in UNHCR as regular staff at the end of their assignment. UNHCR manages around 60 JPOs yearly sponsored by 15 Governments. Most JPO assignments last from two to three years.

Applying for vacancies is still a competitive process governed by internal rules and regulations.

“There is no doubt that I have grown professionally in the last three years with UNHCR and shall continue to work with the same spirit in the days to come. I feel more professional, ready to learn more and to continue to grow. The JPO programme is an excellent entry point for any newcomer to learn and to determine their future goal.”

Suprity Timilsina, Associate Protection Officer in Nairobi, Kenya.

How to apply

UNHCR’s JPO programme welcomes applications from individuals who meet the minimum requirements outlined below. Eligibility criteria to apply for a JPO position vary from country to country. Applicants interested in pursuing a JPO experience need to regularly consult the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or a governmental institution of their country.

In general, applicants should have:

  • Degree equivalent to a Bachelor’s Degree or a Master’s Degree in a field relevant to the functions requested in the job description.
  • At least two to four years of relevant work experience (two years with a Master Degree (or higher) or four years with a Bachelor Degree).
  • Proficiency in English (spoken and written) and working knowledge of a second language of the United Nations is strongly recommended asset (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish).
  • Keen and demonstrated interest in the United Nations and humanitarian issues, in particular, and ability to live and/or serve in hardship locations.

“Be courageous, flexible, open-minded and do not hesitate to ask questions or seek guidance.” 

Ruslan Shabdunov, Associate Protection Officer in Lubumbashi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Joined the JPO programme, sponsored by the Government of the Netherlands, in February 2015.

The current open JPO vacancies can be found HERE.