Organizational Setting and Reporting Relationships: The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) is an autonomous institution within the United Nations that conducts independent research on disarmament and related problems, particularly international security issues. UNIDIR supports Member States, the United Nations and policy and research communities in advancing ideas and actions that contribute to a more sustainable and peaceful world. 

UNIDIR seeks a Head of Programmes to lead its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and Space Security (SPACE) Programmes. UNIDIR’s WMD and Space Security Programmes work to support progress in nuclear arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, addressing all aspects of the nuclear dilemma, from delivery vehicles and security policies to the benefits and risks of nuclear technology. The Programmes also contributes to policymakers’ efforts to keep the world free of biological and chemical weapons, while also helping think through the implications of new strategic technologies—from missiles to anti-satellite weapons and missile defence systems.

The Head of Programme will report to the Deputy Director and also work closely with the Director of the Institute.

Responsibilities: Within delegated authority, the Programme Officer will be responsible for the following duties:

  • Develops, implements and evaluates the Space Security Programme, the WMD programme, and related workstreams;
  • Monitors and analyzes programme/project development and implementation; reviews relevant documents and reports; identifies problems and issues to be addressed and initiates research; liaises with relevant parties; ensures follow-up actions.
  • Performs consulting assignments, in collaboration with Member States, the United Nations and policy and research communities, by planning facilitating workshops, through other interactive sessions and assisting in developing the action plan relevant stakeholders could use to manage the change.
  • Conducts original policy-relevant research and analysis and presents information gathered from diverse sources in written outputs (including research briefs, reports and studies).
  • Coordinates policy development, including the review and analysis of issues and trends, preparation of evaluations or other research activities and studies,
  • Generates survey initiatives; designs data collection tools; reviews, analyzes and interprets responses, identify problems/issues and prepares conclusions.
  • Organizes and prepares written outputs, e.g. draft background papers, analysis, sections of reports and studies, inputs to publications, etc.
  • Provides substantive backstopping to consultative and other meetings, conferences, etc., to include proposing agenda topics, identifying participants, preparation of documents and presentations, etc.
  • Initiates and coordinates outreach activities; convenes deliberations, workshops, seminars, etc.; makes presentations on assigned topics/activities.
  • Leads and/or participates in large, complex field missions, including provision of guidance to external consultants, government officials and other parties and drafting mission summaries, etc.
  • Coordinates activities related to budget funding (programme/project preparation and submissions, progress reports, financial statements, etc.) and prepares related documents/reports (pledging, work programme, programme budget, etc.).
  • Performs other duties as required.

Work implies frequent interaction with the following:

Establish and maintain relationships with counterparts, senior officers and technical staff in relevant Secretariat units and in UN funds, programs and other UN specialized agencies, representatives and officials in national governments, international organizations, and consultants.

Results Expected:

Develops, implements, evaluates, effective leadership and management of major projects and teams; demonstrates timely delivery of outputs in accordance with overall objectives and policies. Plays a lead role in identifying significant issues and develops well-reasoned, innovative approaches to deal with these issues.  Serves as an effective spokesperson internally and externally and forms strong partnerships with relevant parties.


  • Professionalism: Knowledge and understanding of theories, concepts and approaches relevant to particular sector, functional area or other specialized field.  Ability to identify issues, analyze and participate in the resolution of issues/problems. Ability to conduct data collection using various methods. Conceptual analytical and evaluative skills to conduct independent research and analysis, including  familiarity with and experience in the use of various research sources, including electronic sources on the internet, intranet and other databases.  Ability to apply judgment in the context of assignments given, plan own work and manage conflicting priorities.  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. Able to analyze and interpret data in support of decision-making and convey resulting information to management.
  • Managing performance: Delegates the appropriate responsibility, accountability and decision-making authority; Makes sure that roles, responsibilities and reporting lines are clear to each staff member; Accurately judges the amount of time and resources needed to accomplish a task and matches task to skills; Monitors progress against milestones and deadlines; Regularly discusses performance and provides feedback and coaching to staff; Encourages risk-taking and supports creativity and initiative; Actively supports the development and career aspirations of staff; Appraises performance fairly.
  • 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.
  • Planning and Organizing:  Develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies; identifies priority activities and assignments; adjusts priorities as required; allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work; foresees risks and allows for contingencies when planning; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary; uses time efficiently.
  • Accountability: Takes ownership of all responsibilities and honours commitments; delivers outputs for which one has responsibility within prescribed time, cost and quality standards; operates in compliance with organizational regulations and rules; supports subordinates, provides oversight and takes responsibility for delegated assignments; takes personal responsibility for his/her own shortcomings and those of the work unit, where applicable.
  • Creativity: Actively seeks to improve programmes or services; offers new and different options to solve problems or meet client needs; promotes and persuades others to consider new ideas; takes calculated risks on new and unusual ideas; thinks “outside the box”; takes an interest in new ideas and new ways of doing things; is not bound by current thinking or traditional approaches.
  • 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.


Education:  Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in political science, international relations, international security, nonproliferation studies, policy studies or a related field.   A doctoral degree is highly desirable. 


  • A minimum of seven years of progressively responsible experience in  managing policy-focused research programmes or projects is required.
  • Proven experience in research and drafting policy-relevant materials on international security, arms control and disarmament issues related to WMD, Space Security, and other strategic weapons is required (policy-relevant publications must be listed in the candidate’s Personal History Profile). 
  • Experience mobilizing and managing resources and support for policy-research activities is desirable.
  • Experience managing teams is desirable. 

Language:  Fluency in English (both oral and written) is required; knowledge of French  is an advantage. Knowledge of another UN official language is desirable  .

How to apply

The applicant should submit:

  • an introductory letter;
  • a PDF of a UN Personal History Profile created via Inspira (; and
  • the name and contact details of three references.

Applications should be sent as email attachments, with the subject line “Application: Head of Programme, WMD and Space Security Programmes” to Deadline for submission of applications is 22 May 2024, midnight Geneva time.

UNIDIR promotes the core values of the United Nations: Integrity, Professionalism and Respect for Diversity. Women are encouraged to apply.

Subject line Application: Head of Programme, WMD and Space Security Programmes

Please note

Recruitment is subject to availability of funding. No enquiries will be accepted by phone. No applications will be accepted by post. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.