Chief, Policy Branch, D1

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)
  • Location
    Geneva, Switzerland
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
  • Apply by
  • Posted
    Jan 12

Position description

Org. Setting and Reporting

The Chief of Branch for Policy will work under the overall strategic guidance of the Under-Secretary General/Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC) and the direct supervision of the Assistant Secretary General/Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator (ASG/DERC).


Within delegated authority, the Chief of Branch provides leadership on all policy topics (e.g., intergovernmental policy, international humanitarian law) and ensures that OCHA develops policies in consultation and collaboration with partners and that are in-line with the needs of the humanitarian ecosystem. S/he formulates and implements the substantive work programme of the Policy Branch under his/her supervision. Oversees the management of activities undertaken by the Policy Branch, ensures that programmed activities are carried out in a timely fashion and co-ordinates work in the different areas both within the Branch, and with other organizations of the United Nations System, as appropriate. Specifically, the Chief of Branch will be responsible for the following:

  • Leads, supervises and carries out the work programme of the Policy Branch. Co-ordinates the work carried out by different work units under the Branch and by other agencies and bodies of the United Nations system; provides programmatic/substantive reviews of the drafts prepared by others. Serves as the focal point and advisor for the coordination of policy issues affecting OCHA’s work. Provides strategic analysis and identifies trends, challenges, and opportunities within the humanitarian landscape. Develops common policies, concepts, strategies, and recommendations to react to these trends, challenges, and opportunities, in close collaboration with partners. Facilitates and supports the advancement of the outcomes of the World Humanitarian Summit and Agenda for Humanity, including the Platform for Action Commitments and Transformation, the Annual Synthesis Report, and monitoring of the Agenda for Humanity outcomes. Promotes the normative framework for humanitarian action and identifies gaps in the framework and its interpretation of guidance, policies, norms, and standards (e.g., Secretary-General reports, reference guides, aide memories, studies). Provides strategic and thought leadership across OCHA to: improve the effectiveness of humanitarian action; develop, advance, and strengthen the normative framework for humanitarian action, including International Humanitarian Law and Principles; and provide policy and thematic expertise to advice decision-making by the USG/ERC and ASG/DERC and the broader humanitarian community at the global, regional, and country levels.
  • Co-ordinates and oversees the preparation of reports for presentation to intergovernmental bodies such as the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budget Questions, Committee for Programme Coordination, Economic and Social C ouncil, the General Assembly and other policy-making organs, as appropriate. Develops and provides advice at the global, regional, and country levels on thematic issues – such as International Humanitarian Law, internal displacement, access, protection, civil-military relations, etc. – to ensure coherent and predictable humanitarian action at all levels.
  • Reports to intergovernmental bodies on budget/programme performance or on programmatic/ substantive issues, as appropriate, particularly those presented in biannual and/or annual reports.
  • Ensures that the outputs produced by the Branch maintain high-quality standards; that reports are clear, objective and based on comprehensive data. Ensures that all outputs produced by the Branch meet required standards before completion to ensure they comply with the relevant mandates. Operationalizes policies and strategies across OCHA and in close collaboration with partners and networks.
  • Develops and prepares the strategy and the work programme of the Policy Branch, determining priorities, and allocating resources for the completion of outputs and their timely delivery. Ensures the Branch’s work programme meets objectives laid out in the “Creating a better OCHA” document, the OCHA Strategic Plan, and the Results Framework. Contributes to the formulation of OCHA’s overall strategies and policies by participating in various committees, preparing documents on policy issues, and acting, as required, in an advisory capacity to the USG/ASG; contributes to the overall management of the Department’s activities and operations. Advises the USG/ERC and ASG/DERC on policy issues affecting the humanitarian landscape and overarching policy strategy for OCHA.
  • Undertakes or oversees the programmatic/administrative tasks necessary for the functioning of the Branch, including preparation of budgets, reporting on budget/programme performance, evaluation of staff performance (PAS), interviews of candidates for job openings, evaluation of candidates and preparation of inputs for results-based budgeting.
  • Recruits staff, taking due account of geographical balance, gender balance and other institutional values.
  • Manages, guides, develops and trains staff under his/her supervision. Provides leadership to the development of innovative and/or change management programmes.
  • Fosters teamwork and communication among staff in the Branch and across organizational boundaries. In collaboration with OCHA’s Strategic Communications Branch, engages in global advocacy and campaigns to support International Humanitarian Law and protection of civilians. Prepares the USG/ERC and ASG/DERC for engagements with the Security Council and provides briefings to Security Council sub-groups, as appropriate. Working across OCHA, consolidates and analyzes best practices and lessons learned from field operations.
  • Leads and supervises the organization of meetings, seminars, etc. on key policy issues. Manages the substantive preparation and organization of such meetings or seminars.
  • Participates in international, regional or national meetings and provides programmatic/substantive expertise on humanitarian policy issues, or holds programmatic/substantive and organizational discussions with representatives of other institutions. Facilitates and supports a range of formal and informal inter-governmental processes and resolution negotiations by building, investing, and maintaining partnerships with Member States.
  • Represents the Branch at international, regional or national meetings.
  • Performs other related duties as requested by the senior management of the Organization.


PROFESSIONALISM: Knowledge of the substantive field of work in general and of specific areas being supervised. Ability to produce reports and papers on technical issues and to review and edit the work of others. Ability to apply UN rules, regulations, policies and guidelines in work situations. 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.

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.

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.

LEADERSHIP: Serves as a role model that other people want to follow: empowers others to translate vision into results; is proactive in developing strategies to accomplish objectives; establishes and maintains relationships with a broad range of people to understand needs and gain support; anticipates and resolves conflicts by pursuing mutually agreeable solutions; drives for change and improvements; does not accept the status quo; shows the courage to take unpopular stands. Provides leadership and takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work; demonstrates knowledge of strategies and commitment to the goal of gender balance in staffing.

JUDGEMENT/DECISION-MAKING: Identifies the key issues in a complex situation, and comes to the heart of the problem quickly; gathers relevant information before making a decision; considers positive and negative impacts of decisions prior to making them; takes decisions with an eye to the impact on others and on the Organization; proposes a course of action or makes a recommendation based on all available information; checks assumptions against facts; determines that the actions proposed will satisfy the expressed and underlying needs for the decision; makes tough decisions when necessary.


Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in international relations, social sciences, economics, management or related area is required. A first-level university degree in combination two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Work Experience

A minimum of fifteen years of progressively responsible experience in international relations, humanitarian affairs, economics, management or related area is required. At least five years of senior managerial experience is required. Experience in policy development is desirable. At least five years of experience at the international level with the United Nations organization, or other comparable international organization is desirable.


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this post, fluency in written and spoken English is required. Knowledge of French is desirable. Knowledge of another UN official language is an advantage.

Application instructions

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