Representative, Human Rights

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Job Responsibilities

The incumbent will be responsible for the following duties:

I: Representation
A: Represents the High Commissioner and OHCHR in the African Union and with the African Union organs:
• Leads/coordinates OHCHR support to the African Union and its organs with human rights mandates (i.e., the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Committee on Rights and Welfare of the Child) and represents the High Commissioner in that regard, as appropriate;
• Liaises with the African Union and with other partners in Addis Ababa and provides both short-term support to ongoing African Union operations and long-term capacity-building support in human rights;
• Works closely with the senior leadership of the African Union Commission including, as necessary, with the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and Commissioners, as well as with members of the African Union Peace and Security Council;

B: Represents the High Commissioner and OHCHR on the African countries under her/his supervision and provides expertise on human rights issues:
• Establishes and maintains relations with governments, state institutions, regional organizations, national human rights institutions, the diplomatic community, civil society, academic and research communities, the private sector and the media for the promotion and protection of human rights; Builds and maintains cooperation with other United Nations entities, including Resident Coordinators and UNCTs to promote and ensure the integration of human rights in their work; organizes and represents the Human Rights component and OHCHR at regular meetings with the heads of agencies and programmes and advocates with the view of adopting UN human rights-based strategies in the country;
• Identifies fundraising opportunities and organizes meetings with donors and major partners to update them on the human rights situation and on the activities of the Office;
• Leads the formulation and implementation of a communications strategy and interaction with international and local media, in close cooperation and consultation with the Communications Section in Geneva;
• Monitors and Reports to the High Commissioner through the Director of the Division on a regular basis on mandate implementation and relevant human rights developments and the work of the Office in the region;
• Coordinates knowledge management efforts within the region including sharing of lessons learned and good practices.

II: Formulation of strategies to implement OHCHR's mandate and oversight/coordination of its implementation in the countries under her/his supervision:
• Identifies the human rights developments and priorities in the African countries under her/his responsibility in conformity with the mandate of the Office as specified in the Host Country Agreement between OHCHR and the Government of Ethiopia;
• Advises the High Commissioner, the Deputy High Commissioner and the Assistant Secretary-General, through the Director of the Division, on strategic policy and operational division as well as on adequate actions required to address concern for the promotion and protection of human rights in compliance with applicable international law and recommendations from UN human rights mechanisms;
• On this basis, develops (and adjusts, as relevant) regional and country strategies, including identification and definition of specific tools needed for the effective promotion and protection of human rights in consultation with relevant parts of the Office as well as relevant partners;
• Formulates, guides and supervises the implementation of the substantive work programme in the region;
• Performs other duties, including supervising special projects.

III: Substantive coordination and managerial responsibilities:
• Ensures the timely and effective provision of human rights expertise in the areas of his/her responsibilities to the needs of OHCHR, particularly its field operations in East Africa, and other parts of the UN as required.
• Directs and supervises the planning, support and evaluation of human rights field presences and missions in East Africa, including the formulation and development of best practices, procedural methodology and models for human rights activities in the field;
• Directs and oversees the development, the implementation, the monitoring and the evaluation of technical cooperation projects at the request of Governments, including those in follow-up to recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) across East Africa;
• Directs and oversees the development or strengthening of national human rights institutions and national human rights protection systems in East Africa;
• Directs and supervises the support to human rights components of UN peace missions in the area of human rights in East Africa;
• Coordinates and oversees the timely preparation of all reports of the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner and country specific Special Procedures mandate holders;
• Directs and oversees support to country specific Special Procedures mandate holders or Committees/Commissions appointed by the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council in the framework of fact-finding procedures and mechanisms; as well as inputs and support to these latter , the CPC and ACABQ or other bodies;
• Monitors the proceedings, deliberations and the implementation of resolutions and other decisions of the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, including from the UPR mechanism, identifying their political and policy implications for OHCHR and the United Nations system, facilitates interaction among Member States, observers, NGOs and other actors in the region, with a view to assisting the General Assembly and the Council in their legislative function in support of the promotion and protection of human rights.
• Ensures that substantive and administrative support is provided to human rights fact-finding and investigatory mechanisms which deal with specific country situations;
• Draws to the attention of the Division Director all pertinent information and recommendations emanating from fact-finding activities, giving particular attention to situations in which preventing human rights action might be appropriate;
• Direction, oversight and management of the Regional Office in Addis Ababa.
• In coordination with the Division Director and Chief, Africa Branch, ensures its effective financial and program management, including planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation;
• In coordination with the Division Director, manages the human resources allocated to the Regional Office with a view to ensuring their most effective use and the delivery of high quality output, assigning responsibilities, training, coaching and setting performance objectives for staff of the Regional Office, undertaking regular reviews of performance including e-Performance.


PROFESSIONALISM: Expert knowledge in the human rights or related (humanitarian, development, peacekeeping, etc.) fields; good knowledge of the Africa region and the work of the United Nations and other international and regional actors in the region; Knowledge of human rights issues and ability to identify related problems in their political, ethnic, racial, gender equality and socio-economic dimensions. Knowledge of institutional mandates of human rights organizations, prevailing policies and procedures. Knowledge of international humanitarian law. Ability to identify, analyze and participate in the resolution of human rights issues. Ability to evaluate and integrate information from a variety of sources and assess impact on the human rights situation in the area of assignment. 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 a two-way conversation. Tailors language, tone, style and format to match the 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 improvement; does not accept status quo. 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 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. Makes tough decisions when necessary.


Advanced university degree (Master's degree or equivalent degree) in law, human rights, political sciences, international relations or related area is required. A first-level university degree in combination with two additional years of qualifying work experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Work Experience

A minimum of fifteen years of progressively responsible experience in human rights, political sciences, international relations or related field is required.
Experience working in the United Nations Common System or other international or non-governmental organization, advocating for the promotion and protection of human rights in conflict or post-conflict environments is required.
Experience in advising senior governmental representatives on human rights is required.
At least 7 years of supervisory, management of teams and leadership experience is desirable.
Experience in the region of assignment is desirable.


French and English are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For the position advertised, fluency in English and French are required. Knowledge of other UN official languages and/or of the Africa region, is desirable.


Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise which will be followed by competency-based interview.

Special Notice

Extension of the appointment is subject to extension of the mandate and/or the availability of the funds.

Staff members are subject to the authority of the Secretary-General and to assignment by him or her. In this context, all staff are expected to move periodically to new functions in their careers in accordance with established rules and procedures.

The United Nations Secretariat is committed to achieving 50/50 gender balance in its staff. Female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.

Staff members appointed to the current position are required to submit a financial disclosure statement upon assignment or appointment and annually thereafter.

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