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Head of Communications (P-3)

United Nations University


Posted 3 weeks ago

Lead transformative communications at a prestigious UN think tank with UNU-MERIT


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No salary declared 😔

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Boschstraat 24

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Expires at anytime

Organisation summary: UNU-MERIT, part of the United Nations University, is a leading research and training institute focusing on sustainable socio-economic development. Located in the vibrant city of Maastricht, the institute works closely with Maastricht University and boasts over 100 PhD fellows and 140 Master’s students. It is celebrated for its high-impact research and contributions to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. For a deeper dive into their groundbreaking research themes, visit

  • Lead strategic communications to amplify research uptake and policy impact.
  • Manage communications operations, including team leadership and content creation.
  • Collaborate with researchers to produce and disseminate knowledge products.
  • Uphold UNU's brand and contribute to global outreach initiatives.
  • Advise on strategic communications and institute management.
  • Advanced degree in a relevant field with at least five years of experience.
  • Exceptional communication skills in English; Dutch and other UN languages advantageous.
  • Proven track record in managing teams and communications campaigns.
  • Strong understanding of international research and policy agenda.

To apply, complete the UNU P11 Form, provide a motivation statement, and answer position-specific questions via the apply link by June 30, 2024. UNU offers an attractive tax-exempt salary, benefits, and a potential for contract renewal.

About UN University (UNU)

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 The United Nations
University – Maastricht Economic and Social
Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT)

UNU-MERIT is one of 14 research and training Institutes that comprise the think tanks in the UNU system.

The institute, which collaborates closely with Maastricht University,carries out research and training on a range of social, political and economic factors that drive sustainable socio-economic development in a global perspective. Overall the institute functions as a unique research centre and graduate school for over 100 PhD fellows and 140 Master’s students. It is also a UN think tank addressing a broad range of policy questions on science, innovation and democratic governance.

For more information, in particular on the details of the research themes, please visit


Under the overall supervision of the Director of the institute the Head of Communications heads the Communications Office and supports the overall management of UNU-MERIT. The Head of Communications responsibilities include the following:

1) Lead strategic communications and knowledge mobilization efforts at UNU-MERIT to support the achievement of the Institutes’ strategic plan

  • Increase UNU-MERIT’s research uptake – and resulting policy impact – through innovative, targeted and tailored communications campaigns;
  • Help maintain the Institute’s position as a leading think-tank and academic institute by curating and producing articles, blogs, newsletters, etc.;
  • Draft annual reports to highlight the Institute’s achievements;
  • Monitor the work of the Communications Office with respect to impact, producing and reporting relevant analytics, and adjusting communications strategies in response to the analytics;
  • Maintain the Institute’s existing social media channels and explore new channels to help promote the Institute;
  • Lead and innovate to further build upon UNU-MERIT’s success in delivering timely research communication via the Institute’s website, social media, videos, written material and other communication products, in co-operation with the UNU-MERIT Management Team, and relevant internal and external researchers; and
  • Participate in the strategic planning of the institute´s events and yearly calendar. Advise and support in the development of effective events that support the achievement of the institute’s strategic goals in co-operation with the UNU-MERIT Management Team and relevant internal and external researchers and policymakers.

2) Manage and oversee UNU-MERIT’s Communications Office to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of work of personnel, consultants, and contractors, further creating a positive work environment

  • Lead and direct the communications team, plan and allocate work assignments, participate in the recruitment and selection of new personnel and in the development of training programmes related to communication skills;
  • Motivate, encourage, guide, mentor and supervise personnel within the Communications Office;
  • Manage the day-to-day operations of the communications unit, including personnel planning and implementation of administrative policies, monitoring and evaluation of the unit’s work;
  • Plan, develop and implement clear and effective workflows and loads within the unit, and in relation to other teams in the institute.

3) Support UNU-MERIT researchers in producing impactful knowledge products targeted at broad audiences

  • Provide communications support to researchers along research project cycle(s) by designing different activities at different stages;
  • Assist UNU-MERIT researchers in the fine-tuning of concise, readable, and compelling papers and reports, infographics, videos, and report presentations; and
  • Help translate scientific research outcomes into infographics, articles, blogs, podcasts, and videos for the general public’s understanding and engagement.
4) Strategic Collaboration with UNU-Centre
  • Follow the brand, visual identity and editorial guidelines set by UNU Centre for all UNU-MERIT research and communications products;
  • Participate in UNU Centre’s coordinated global outreach efforts;
  • Liaise with UNU Centre for greater visibility between HQ and the institutes.
5) As part of the UNU-MERIT Director’s Office Team provide support to the management of the Institute to the Director by giving expert knowledge and mobilization advice on strategic and planning processes/documents and participating in Institutional initiatives
  • Take part in coordination and policy development efforts including working groups, task forces, and standing committees.
  • Develop, implement and continually update the Institute Communications Strategy in line with the Institute Strategic Plan 2021-2025, encompassing internal and external communication, using a broad range of tools and channels;
  • Support the translation of UNU-MERIT strategies into knowledge mobilization plans and implementation, as well as developing action plans for personnel;
  • Ensure the institute’s brand is maintained and enhanced in reflecting the values of the UN system, and continues to be recognized for its academic excellence, as well as reflecting academic freedom, development policy relevance, neutrality, credibility, scientific integrity, and a global perspective throughout the knowledge mobilization efforts;

6) Perform other duties as assigned by Supervisor

Key performance indicators

  • Timely and quality delivery of Institute communications strategy in accordance with the Institute Strategic Plan
  • Timely and quality delivery of communications products
  • Quality and level of engagement with media, governments, universities, and other stakeholders
  • UNU-MERIT is seen as a reliable and trustworthy partner by research partners, governments, donors, and civil society
  • Timely and quality delivery of high impact events and conferences locally and internationally



  • 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

  • Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) or A first-level university degree (Bachelor’s Degree) in communication, journalism, international relations, public administration, or related field with two additional years of work experience.

2) Required skills and experience

  • At least five years of work experience in relevant fields, with progressive experience managing communications teams
  • Strong communications and presentation skills, along with excellent writing skills in English
  • Knowledge of the international research and policy agenda in areas related to the Institute’s research programme
  • A proven track record of academic and policy communications
  • Excellent manager and a team player with strong interpersonal skills and ability to work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with inclusion, integrity, humility and humanity.
  • Demonstrated ability to carry out and communicate development research activities in an international environment
  • A demonstrated track record in creatively using communications tools to advance issues or campaigns, preferably related to global socio-economic development
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to collaborate with senior management and cross-functional team members
  • Excellent organization and project management skills
  • Creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, adaptability and familiarity with current marketing trends

Professionalism, flexibility and ability to work under realistic deadlines

Results driven, foreseeing risks and allowing for contingencies when planning

3) Desired skills and experience

  • Team management experience
  • Understandings of academic research
  • Experience working with diverse stakeholders including public, private, non-profit, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations
  • Experience working in or with the United Nations system

4) Language Requirements

  • Fluency in English is required
  • Knowledge of Dutch is highly desirable
  • 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

1 November 2024 or sooner

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

30 June 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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