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Director, UNU-IIGH (D1)

United Nations University


Posted over 30 days ago...


Join UNU-IIGH as Director and lead transformative global health initiatives at a pivotal moment for sustainable development.


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No salary declared 😔

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Kuala Lumpur, MY

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Expires at anytime

The United Nations University (UNU) is a globally recognized institution dedicated to generating research that addresses critical global issues and promotes sustainable development. With 400+ researchers across 12 countries, UNU is influential in shaping policy across the Sustainable Development Goals. For more about the organization, visit UNU-IIGH.

  • UNU-IIGH, part of the UNU think tank network, focuses on evidence-based policy in global health towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The Director of UNU-IIGH reports to the UNU Rector and oversees strategic, financial, and operational aspects of the institute.
  • Build and manage international partnerships and research programs aligned with UNU's strategic goals.
  • Ensure the institute's contributions to policy debates are based on critical research outcomes.
  • Drive resource mobilization strategies and manage donor relationships to support the institute's programs.
  • Lead impactful research and capacity-building initiatives, ensuring high-quality, policy-relevant outputs.
  • Represent UNU-IIGH globally and establish strategic partnerships to enhance the institute's visibility and outreach.
  • Requires 15+ years' experience in global health, including a managerial role, and a strong academic profile.
  • Demonstrated ability to mobilize resources and manage donor relations.
  • Expertise in policy-relevant research, particularly in low and middle-income countries.
  • Excellent communication skills and a commitment to UN principles.
  • Fluency in English; additional UN language skills are an asset.

To apply, fill out the UNU P11 Form, provide a motivation statement, and answer position-specific questions by the deadline: 31 May 2024.

About UN University (UNU)

The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge, furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. UNU’s mission 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, United Nations University (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, 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 United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH)

UNU-IIGH is one of 14 research and training Institutes that comprise the think tanks in the UNU system. UNU-IIGH was established in 2005 with the mission to advance evidence-based policy on key issues related to sustainable development and global health. UNU-IIGH aims to build knowledge and capacity for decision-making by UN agencies, UN programmes and Member States towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Leveraging its position within the UN, UNU-IIGH works with a network of academic, policy and civil society experts to serve as a platform for critical thinking and the exchange of knowledge and tools for policy influence and consensus-building.

The current Strategic Plan ( 2024-2028) focuses on addressing inequalities in Global Health.Work packages include:

1.Gender Equality and Intersectionality: aim to improve the quality of health care through a human-centred approach, by ensuring the health system is responsive to the needs of structurally excluded individuals and communities; and by advancing a positive and enabling environment for the frontline health workforce—e.g. addressing the experience of gender-based violence.

2.Power and Accountability: catalyse equitable shifts in power and address key accountability deficits that prevent the equitable and effective functioning of the global health system and prevent adequate responsiveness to the needs of states and populations in the Global South.

3.Digital Health Governance:address the colonial legacies and power asymmetries that negatively impact robust digital health governance, identify ways to strengthen health data governance with a particular focus on SRHR and promote diversity in technology design and development.

4.Climate Justice and Determinants of Health: leverage UNU-IIGH's position within the UN and network of UNU institutes, network experts, practitioners, policy-makers, and academics to advance evidence-based policy on the different dimensions of the climate emergency and its impact on health.

The institute has consolidated and sharpened its research program in recent years and is now poised for growth, for more information, please visit:

Director of UNU IIGH

The Director reports to the Rector of the United Nations University and has overall responsibility for the organization and management of UNU-IIGH and its programmes. The preferred candidate should have a distinguished scientific profile of research and policy engagement in global health and strong relevant networks, sufficient to support UNU-IIGH with the necessary prestige and credibility in the communities of international scholarship, global health research, policy, and practice.

The Director develops and manages national and international partnerships and negotiations, overseas the finance, operations, and management of UNU-IIGH and implements the strategy within the broader context of the UNU strategic objectives.

The Director will ensure that the UNU-IIGH continues to contribute to important policy debates within the UN and the Member States based on a critical understanding of global health challenges and the outcomes of the Institute’s research programme. The Director is responsible for guaranteeing scientific excellence through internal quality control and providing strategic visioning and guidance for the impact of UNU-IIGH in global health policy spaces.

UNU is looking for a dynamic individual with a strong academic and management background who can recruit, lead and manage a diverse team of experts; build and strengthen partnerships with think tanks, universities, the private sector, and other parts of the UN system; and produce world-class, policy-relevant analyses, convene critical dialogues and support capacity strengthening, particularly in the Global South, to contribute to the resolution of global health challenges. 


Leadership and strategic management

  • Serve as the Chief Academic and Administrative officer of the institute with overall responsibility for the direction, organization, administration, and programming of UNU-IIGH, in accordance with the policies and criteria formulated by the UNU Council, the Rector, and the Institute’s International Advisory Board;
  • Manage, hire and supervise personnel, promoting diversity, inclusion, and gender equality;
  • Manage the Institute’s budget, including reporting requirements to donors and within the UNU system; and
  • Lead relations with the host country (Malaysia), its host institution (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia), the UN Country Team, and other key stakeholders.

Resource mobilisation

  • Develop and implement a resource mobilisation strategy to secure funding for existing and future UNU-IIGH programmes;
  • Manage donor relations and networks, including resource mobilisation activities for the institute’s research programmes; and
  • Coach researchers in preparing excellent proposals and in engaging with research partners and donors.

Research programme implementation and oversight

  • Lead a policy and impact-driven programme of substantive research, capacity-building, and knowledge translation in public health through the implementation of the strategy;
  • Oversee the strengthening and implementation of research programmes; and
  • Ensure that research outputs are high quality and policy-relevant and that recommendations are channeled effectively to the UN system, policymakers, and other stakeholders.

Represent UNU-IIGH and establish strategic partnerships

  • Establish and maintain relationships with the UN system, the UN Country Team in Malaysia, governments, partners, donors, and other stakeholders to achieve collaboration on programme development, implementation, and resource mobilisation;
  • Strengthen and expand scientific partnerships and networks with relevant institutions, including major UN stakeholders, think tanks, research organisations, and academic networks internal and external to UNU; and
  • Draw on UNU’s convening power and represent UNU-IIGH in local and global for to support the Institute’s visibility and outreach.

Knowledge sharing and collaboration

  • Facilitate the dissemination and translation of the Institute’s knowledge products to key stakeholders and the public;
  • Co-ordinate UNU-IIGH’s work programme with other UN and UNU activities and institutions in different parts of the world, particularly in the Global South; and
  • Support the Rector and the UNU system, including participation in the Conference of Directors of UNU institutes and system-wide initiatives.

Perform other duties in support of the Institute and UNU system, as requested by the Rector

Key performance indicators

  • UNU-IIGH is seen as a reliable and trustworthy partner by donors, governments, research partners, civil society, and the UN System.
  • Increase sustainable donor support to UNU-IIGH, including excellent donor relationships and diversified funding sources.
  • Implementation of a high-quality programme for UNU-IIGH, including delivering research outputs, capacity-building activities, and events. A high level of academic excellence is guaranteed in all the Institute’s activities through internal quality control and guidance for academic activities.The Institute is managed effectively and efficiently according to the policies and criteria formulated by the UNU Council, the Rector, and the Institute’s International Advisory Committee.



  • 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

1) Education and certification

  • MD, PhD, MA, MSc, or MPhil degreein public health, global health, or a related field.

2) Required skills and experience

  • At least fifteen years of progressively responsible experience in global health, of which at least five years in a managerial role, with demonstrable leadership and management;
  • Proven track record of significant resource mobilisation for international projects and donor relations, management at senior levels;
  • Strong background in policy-relevant research and international capacity development in global health, international development, human rights or related fields. A track record in gender, equity or human rights would be an advantage;
  • A prominent profile in the global health community, with high-quality publications relevant to low and middle-income countries;
  • Demonstrated understanding of contemporary challenges in global health, policymaking challenges, and experience translating research for policy communities;
  • Demonstrated knowledge of the policy-making process in the UN and member states, with a focus on low and middle-income countries;
  • Skilled networker as demonstrated engagement in networks in global health;
  • Commitment to the principles and ideals of the UN;
  • Knowledge of the UN system and familiarity with global health across the UN is a strong asset
  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills; and
  • Team player with strong interpersonal skills, political tact, and ability to work in a multicultural multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.

3) Language Requirements

  • Fluency in English is required.
  • Knowledge of another UN official working language is an asset.


UNU offers an attractive, tax-exempt compensation package including an annual net salary (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance), 30 days annual leave, dependency benefits, pension plan and health insurance scheme. For more information please see:

Duration of contract

This is a full-time, fixed-term appointment. The initial appointment will be for one (1) year with the possibility of renewal on a fixed-term appointment basis, subject to satisfactory work performance.

For academic positions, the combined duration of fixed-term appointments with UNU may not exceed six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for United Nations staff is 65 years.

Starting Date

Between Quarter 3 to Quarter 4, 2024

How to Apply

To apply to UNU, you will not need an account. Instead, we ask that you:

  • Apply via the apply link;
  • fill out the UNU P11 Form (please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations);
  • provide a motivation statement (in the P11 form); and
  • answer a few questions that are tailored to the position.

You may wish to refer to the UN Values and Behaviours Framework for more information.

Application Deadline

31 May 2024


Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise which may be followed by a competency-based interview, background checks and references.

Special notice

Staff members of the United Nations University are international civil servants subject to the Rector's authority. They may be assigned to any of the activities or offices of the United Nations University. The Rector reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a level below that advertised.

UNU is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities to apply and become part of the organisation. Applications from developing countries, and from women are strongly encouraged. Eligible internal applicants are also encouraged to apply.

UNU has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNU, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination.

If you have supervisory function you need to have awareness on gender related issues.

Information about UNU rosters

UNU reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement.We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNU.

Scam warning

UNU does not charge any application, processing, training, interviewing, testing or other fee in connection with the application or recruitment process. Should you receive a solicitation for the payment of a fee, please disregard it. Furthermore, please note that emblems, logos, names and addresses are easily copied and reproduced. Therefore, you are advised to apply particular care when submitting personal information on the web.


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