Assistant Director-General for Priority Africa and External Relations


Post Number : PAX 001

Grade : ADG

Parent Sector : Priority Africa and External Relations Sector (PAX)

Duty Station: Paris

Job Family: External Relations

Type of contract : Fixed Term

Duration of contract : 2 years

Recruitment open to : Internal and external candidates

Application Deadline (Midnight Paris Time) : 30-AUG-2024


UNESCO Core Values: Commitment to the Organization, Integrity, Respect for Diversity, Professionalism




UNESCO has a special role to play in strengthening the foundations of lasting peace and equitable and sustainable development. Advancing cooperation in education, the sciences, culture, communication and information is of strategic relevance at a time when societies across the world face rapid change and increasingly complex, social, economic and environmental challenges.

The Sector for Priority Africa and External Relations plays a central role in building efficient partnerships and collaborations with Member States, Permanent Delegations, National Commissions, and intergovernmental organizations, in order to consolidate relations with their networks and constituencies.

Africa is one of UNESCO’s two global priorities and as such, UNESCO and development partners are attentive to the development challenges of the continent with a stronger and better-targeted strategy. The African Renaissance is underway, with the adoption of the African Union Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development paving the ground for the transformation of the African continent.

Long Description

Under the authority of the Director-General, the Assistant Director-General for the Priority Africa and External Relations is responsible for providing intellectual leadership and strategic vision for the Priority Africa and External Relations Sector in line with the Organization’s Medium-Term Strategy for 2022-2029 document (41 C/4) and the decisions of the governing bodies.

The Sector for Priority Africa and External Relations plays a central role in building efficient partnerships and collaborations, at the highest level, with government leaders and representatives, national authorities, ministries, Permanent Delegations of Member States and Associate Members to UNESCO, National Commissions for UNESCO, intergovernmental, multilateral and bilateral and regional organizations, in Africa, Asia and Pacific, Latin American and the Caribbean and Europe, and the United Nations system, with a view to strengthening UNESCO’s mandate and UNESCO’s presence in the world. The Sector also includes key programmes such as the Participation Programme, the coordination with the United Nations system as well as the Protocol unit.

The Sector is also in charge of political analysis, preparing briefings and background policy notes, as well as the coordination of the Director-General’s travel and bilateral meetings, in coordination with Field Offices. It also sees to the coordination of and follow-up on UNESCO’s action within the United Nations system.

Long Description

The Assistant Director-General will be responsible for leading and coordinating for the overall implementation of the Operational Strategy for Priority Africa for 2022-2029 and its five multidisciplinary flagship programmes as detailed in the approved Programme and Budget for 2022-2025 document (41 C/5) and for ensuring and enhancing UNESCO’s action and visibility in Africa. He/she will guide the future-oriented and innovative thinking on changes, opportunities and challenges in Africa through forward-looking research and studies to ensure coherence and efficiency in implementing Priority Africa and will promote actions aiming at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 “The Africa We Want”, in UNESCO’s fields of competence. This comprises the management, planning and coordination of the Sector and its strategies, programmes and plans of action, as well as the mobilization of extrabudgetary resources and development of strategic and substantial partnerships. He/she will also be responsible for leveraging internal and external support for Priority Africa.

The Assistant Director-General will oversee the contribution of the Programme Sectors’ Assistant Directors-General to Priority Africa and the implementation of strategies in support of Priority Africa across UNESCO’s field of competence.

He/she will be responsible for providing intellectual and political guidance to Directors and Heads of Field Offices and ensure that their actions are in line with UNESCO’s sectoral and intersectoral priorities.

He/she will engage with members of Governing bodies and contribute to the Secretariat participation and presentation to the Executive Board and General Conference.

The Assistant Director-General, also a member of the Senior Management Team, shall represent the Director-General in specialized commissions of UNESCO’s governing bodies, as well as at intergovernmental, international and regional conferences and other fora, at the senior level.

Long Description


For further information on the specific above-mentioned programmes, candidates may consult UNESCO’s website:, and/or the following documents: 41 C/4 (UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy, 2022–2029) and 41 C/5 (UNESCO’s Programme and Budget for 2022–2025).


COMPETENCIES (Core / Managerial)

Communication (C)
Accountability (C)
Innovation (C)
Knowledge sharing and continuous improvement (C)
Planning and organizing (C)
Results focus (C)
Teamwork (C)
Professionalism (C)
Building partnerships (M)
Driving and managing change (M)
Leading and empowering others (M)
Making quality decisions (M)
Managing performance (M)
Strategic thinking (M)


For detailed information, please consult the UNESCO Competency Framework.




  • Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent degree) in a discipline related to UNESCO’s mandate, public or business administration, or international relations, or related field.

Work Experience

  • A minimum of fifteen (15) years’ experience in international and intergovernmental cooperation, preferably within the United Nations system context.
  • Extensive and relevant professional experience in senior leadership/executive positions in areas directly related to UNESCO’s mandate, including assignments at the regional and/or international levels.
  • Several years of exposure to the requirements of international and intergovernmental cooperation.
  • Proven partnership experience with successful implementation of partners at global, local and community levels.
  • Extensive and relevant professional experience in management of international development programmes, projects and processes including change management initiatives.
  • Diplomatic background/political analysis.

Skills & Competencies

  • Knowledge of, and commitment to, the Organization’s mandate, vision, strategic direction and priorities.
  • Leadership capacities, a sense of objectivity and neutrality, strong analytical skills and intellectual capabilities, professional integrity and diplomacy.
  • Knowledge of international affairs, diplomacy especially crisis zones.
  • Ability to exercise well-founded and balanced authority, as well as to provide high-level advice
  • Sound knowledge of strategic planning and general management practices, including results-based management and budgeting principles, governance and accountability.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead and direct change processes at the substantive and management levels.
  • Excellent advocacy and communication skills with strong representational abilities.
  • Proven ability to interact effectively at the highest governmental levels, as well as with leaders of the private sector and NGOs, and ability to mobilize resources and to build collaborative partnerships and networks with and between a wide variety of stakeholders.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, including the ability to manage relationships at all levels of the Organization.



  • Excellent knowledge of and drafting skills in the working languages of the Organization (English and French).





  • A PhD level degree in a discipline or one of its sub-disciplines related to the post or equivalent.
  • Other university degrees or short to medium-term training in disciplines relevant to the post.


Work Experience

  • Awareness and knowledge of UNESCO’s strategic objectives and of wider reform and initiative processes within the United Nations system, especially with regard to UNDS reform, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union's Agenda 2063.
  • Experience in conducting complex negotiations diplomatically and tactfully in the overall interest of pursuing UNESCO’s mandate and mission.
  • Work experience in Africa is an asset.
  • Diplomatic experience is an asset.

Skills & Competencies

  • Skills in administration and the management of financial and human resources.
  • Solid understanding of global operational risk.
  • Experience in guiding staff and motivating teams in a culturally diverse environment.



  • Knowledge of other official languages of UNESCO (Arabic, Chinese, Russian or Spanish).



UNESCO’s salaries consist of a basic salary and other benefits which may include if applicable: 30 days annual leave, family allowance, medical insurance, pension plan etc.

The approximate annual starting salary for this post is 231 122 US $.

For full information on benefits and entitlements, please consult our Guide to Staff Benefits.


Please note that all candidates must complete an on-line application and provide complete and accurate information. To apply, please visit the UNESCO Careers website. No modifications can be made to the application submitted.

The evaluation of candidates is based on the criteria in the vacancy notice, and may include tests and/or assessments, as well as a competency-based interview. 

UNESCO uses communication technologies such as video or teleconference, e-mail correspondence, etc. for the assessment and evaluation of candidates.

Please note that only selected candidates will be further contacted and candidates in the final selection step will be subject to reference checks based on the information provided.


UNESCO recalls that paramount consideration in the appointment of staff members shall be the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, technical competence and integrity. UNESCO applies a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of harassment. UNESCO is committed to achieving and sustaining equitable and diverse geographical distribution, as well as gender parity among its staff members in all categories and at all grades. Furthermore, UNESCO is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Candidates from non- and under-represented Member States (last update here) are particularly welcome and strongly encouraged to apply. Individuals from minority groups and indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the highest level of confidentiality. Worldwide mobility is required for staff members appointed to international posts.

UNESCO does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process.