Programme Specialist


Post Number : SHS 168

Grade : P-4

Parent Sector : Social and Human Sciences Sector (SHS)

Duty Station: Paris

Job Family: Social and Human Sciences

Type of contract : Fixed Term

Duration of contract : 2 years, renewable

Recruitment open to : Internal and external candidates

Application Deadline (Midnight Paris Time) : 6-MAR-2024


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




The focus of the Social and Human Science Sector (SHS) at UNESCO is to foster inclusive societies, by prioritizing policies that benefit the most vulnerable populations who are most likely to be left behind in crisis contexts. In particular, UNESCO strives to enhance its efforts to fight against societal ills such as racism and discrimination which continue to pervade across regions. One of the flagship programmes to support this mandate is to enhance the “Routes of Enslaved Peoples: Resistance, Liberty and Heritage” which contributes to the production of innovative knowledge, the development of scientific research and networks and the support of history and memory initiatives on the theme of enslavement, the transatlantic slave trade, its abolition and the resistance it generated. In the Sector, the Inclusion, Rights and Intercultural Dialogue Section (IRD) leads the implementation of this programme which has played an instrumental role in breaking the silence around this tragedy and has reinforced UNESCO’s scientific legitimacy in the field.

Under the overall authority of the Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences Sector (ADG/SHS), strategic guidance from the Director for Research, Ethics and Inclusion (REI) and direct supervision of the Chief of Section, the incumbent will be responsible for the design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting on activities that address past and present racial discriminations, and by supporting innovative approaches to history and memory as outlined in the 2021 Strategic Framework for the  Routes of Enslaved Peoples programme.

Long Description

In particular, s/he will:


  • Advance the implementation of the Routes of Enslaved Peoples programme through diverse interventions that respond to current trends and specific needs on the ground, thereby ensuring UNESCO’s and SHS’ leadership in this field, including by conducting research on the history of enslavement and its impact in current societal trends,  developing tools and frameworks for dissemination and impact and ensuring consultations with Member States and furthering communication and outreach with experts and institutions in this field, and ensuring timely and adequate reporting to UNESCO’s governing bodies.
  • Develop and implement a strategy to set a global agenda under UNESCO’s leadership in formulating legislative and institutional frameworks related to restorative justice and reparations arising from enslavement and the transatlantic slave trade, by preparing proposals, creating partnerships, and supervising the design, implementation and assessment of related initiatives, also informed by the outcomes of the 30th anniversary of the Routes of Enslaved Peoples programme in 2024.
  • Strengthen, document and implement the Network of Places of History and Memory linked to Enslavement and the Slave Trade, including the creation of a global register and the development of meaningful activities such as capacity strengthening, practical tools for preservation, management and artistic/cultural events for visibility, understanding and valorization of the Places and the establishment of regular exchanges between these places, leading to the twining of cities that are linked by past history. Engaging in dialogue with the Place managers, local authorities and communities, especially young people, for the social and economic benefits of these groups. Ensure standardization of the places of memory, and designing insignias for its rapid recognition.


  • Create linkages with converging programmes within the SHS Sector, notably in relation to the Sector wide Anti-Racism Roadmap, as well as across the Organization.
  • Establish solid partnerships among Member States, international/regional organizations, academic and research institutions, prominent thought leaders, cultural/artistic communities, civil society actors, relevant NGOs, media and private sector entities to equip communities across regions with knowledge, skills, resources and networks such as mentorship, grants and training programmes for Afrodescendant communities, with a focus on youth and women.
  • Promote, through technical guidance and targeted advocacy initiatives, the prominent role of UNESCO in the pursuit of racial equity and justice in the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, and other relevant UN monitoring mechanisms, as well as in the work of the UN system, both at the global level and as a country level priority, notably in the context of efforts to attain the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Lead and coordinate programme planning, budgeting, contracting, activity implementation, monitoring and evaluation and reporting for activities linked to history and memory related to enslavement and the slave trade, in line with UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy (C/4), the approved Programme and Budget (C/5), and global development plans such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Prepare briefings, statements, reports for formal reporting as required. Perform any other relevant duties that may be required by the senior management of the sector.

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 at minimum) in the field of social and human sciences or related fields.


Work Experience

  • Minimum 7 years of progressive professional experience relevant to social sciences research and social policy of which preferably 3 years have been acquired at the international level.
  • Experience in designing, implementing, and coordinating strategies and activities related to capacity-building in the area of social and human sciences.
  • Experience in conducting research and/or analysis with innovative analytical frameworks.
  • Proven track record in fund-raising and other resource mobilization mechanisms.


Skills and competencies 

  • Recognized relevant research, publication, writing and critical thinking competencies. 
  • Strong qualitative and quantitative research skills, and project management, along with resource mobilization.
  • Proven ability in programme management, including the monitoring and reporting of programme activities and related financial and substantive aspects. 
  • Leadership and expertise, including the ability to manage and motivate staff and teams and to maintain effective working relationships in a multicultural environment. 
  • Capacity to build and maintain effective working relations with national and international authorities, academic and non-government institutions, intergovernmental organizations, including through networking. 
  • Excellent coordination and interpersonal skills. 
  • Ability to participate effectively in high-level negotiations with internal and external partners. 
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to prepare and present findings and recommendations on issues clearly and concisely. 



  • Excellent knowledge (written and spoken) of English and good knowledge of French.




  • PhD in social sciences with a history of publications in fields including inequality and exclusion, history and memory, governance of regional and global commons, societal disruption and digital transformations.
  • Expertise in the human rights and  particularly in the areas of history, memory and/or culture linked to the transatlantic slave trade 


Work Experience 

  • Proven knowledge creation and brokering experience.
  • Professional experience in the United Nations system or other multilateral organizations and/or in the field of international relations and diplomacy, multilateral settings/cooperation and development.


Skills and competencies 

  • Good knowledge of UNESCO’s work, and familiarity with SHS Sector activities. Familiarity with the work and general functioning of international organizations and/or the United Nations System.



  • Knowledge of other official language of UNESCO (Arabic, Chinese, Russian and/or Spanish).




An assessment exercise may be used in the evaluation of candidates.


The approximate annual starting salary for this post is 119 932 US $.

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

UNESCO’s salaries are calculated in US dollars. They consist of a basic salary and a post adjustment, which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station, as well as exchange rates. Other benefits include: 30 days annual leave, family allowance, home travel, education grant for dependent children, pension plan and medical insurance.  More details can be found on the ICSC Website.



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.