United Nations - The Nippon Foundation Critical Needs Fellowship


Building capacity to address critical needs of the most vulnerable States

UN-NF Programmes: Responding to the impacts of COVID-19

Information on call for applications

Please note that the in-person implementation of the 2020 Fellowship programmes has been delayed until 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. There will, accordingly, be no call for applications issued for the 2021 sessions of the Fellowship programmes.


Overall goal

The Critical Needs Fellowship was established in 2017 as one of three core activities under the United Nations - Nippon Foundation Sustainable Ocean Programme. The Fellowship aims to assist developing States, particularly least developed countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, to address identified critical needs in the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and related instruments, as well as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 and other related SDGs.

Specific purpose

Through the targeted building of human capacity, the Critical Needs Fellowship addresses needs-based capacity gaps at the national level to overcome critical capacity barriers to enable the most vulnerable States to better address strategically important and time-sensitive ocean affairs and the law of the sea issues they are faced with.

This specific purpose will be achieved through the delivery of critical capacity assistance, in the format of a Fellowship Programme, to Government officials from developing States with limited background in ocean affairs and the law of the sea, who are filling key positions in their Administration to address identified critical needs in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 and other related SDGs.


The Fellowship consists of a four-month training programme at the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It consists of a highly customized programme of activities.

Depending on needs identified, Fellows may, during the four-month training programme, undertake a learning placement with either a Department of the United Nations Secretariat, a specialized agency, or an organization affiliated with the United Nations or other relevant organization. (Please click here for a description of programme activities)



States have been invited to nominate Government officials with limited background in ocean affairs and the law of the sea, who are filling key positions in their Administration and who are tasked with assignments relating to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and related instruments, as well as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 and other related SDGs.
Please note that there is NO COST to submit an application. The deadline for submission of applications has closed.


Selection criteria

Nominated candidates must meet all the following criteria:

  1. Must be between the ages of 25 and 40;

  2. Must have successfully completed a first university degree;

  3. Must be Government officials from developing countries dealing directly with critical issues related to sustainable development of oceans and seas including the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; national and/or regional ocean policy; establishment of maritime zones and the delimitation of maritime boundaries; coastal zone management; conservation and management of marine living resources; maritime transport and shipping; maritime security; the protection and preservation of the marine environment; and marine science;

  4. The "Nomination and Recommendation Form" must be completed by a Government official who can attest to the nature of your work with respect to the Government's ocean affairs and law of the sea related activities, and indicate how an Award would directly contribute to these activities;

  5. The proposed study programme must contribute directly to the State's formulation and/or implementation of ocean affairs and law of the sea policies and programmes;

  6. Must be free of all non-Fellowship obligations during this entire period unless otherwise authorized by the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs.


Satisfaction of the above criteria must be clearly demonstrated by the candidate through the application forms and confirmed by a Nominating Authority.


Women candidates are strongly invited to apply, with a view to achieve gender balance in the selection process.

Application package

The Fellowship application package consists of the following two forms:


1. The Personal History and Proposed Research/Study Programme Form (click to download in MS Word format)


This Form must be completed by the candidate, either typewritten or word processed. Each question must be answered clearly and completely in order to ensure that the application will be processed. While completing this form, candidates should pay particular attention to sections 18, 19 and 20. If necessary, candidates may attach no more than one additional page of the same size.


Once this form is completed, it must be submitted by the candidate to the Nominating Authority along with:

2. The Nomination and Recommendation Form (click to download in MS Word format)


This form must be completed and signed by the official nominating entity and must clearly identify the time-sensitive strategic needs of the State and how the candidate will be in a position to directly affect positive change with respect to these needs.


Once completed, both the "Nomination and Recommendation Form" and the completed "Personal History and Proposed Research/Study Programme Form" must be forwarded to DOALOS through the nominating State's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.


DOALOS reserves the right not to process incomplete and/or late submissions.


Applications should be sent to:


E-mail (Preferred): DOALOS@un.org


The United Nations - Nippon Foundation Critical Needs Fellowship Programme

Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea

Office of Legal Affairs

United Nations, Room DC2-0450

New York, N.Y. 10017, U.S.A.



The decision to Award a Fellowship is made in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Technical Cooperation Agreement which establishes the Fellowship Programme, and guided by the "Fellowship Selection Criteria" applied by the United Nations System Organizations.


Successful candidates ONLY will be notified directly by DOALOS of their Award. Other applicants will find the selection results posted at the top of this page.


Please note that Awards are conditional on the fulfilment of all Fellowship requirements including, inter alia, the necessary visa(s) and medical clearance.



Conditions for selected candidates


1. Travel and Payment (Stipends - and allowance)


Fellows will be provided with a return air-ticket in economy class for travels from their home country to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA.


Travel arrangements will be made by the United Nations and in accordance with the applicable United Nations travel policies.


Fellows will receive a stipend during their fellowship in accordance with the established United Nations rates for the host Country. These rates are updated regularly and available on the following URL: https://www.un.org/development/desa/fellowship/stipend-rates


For the first month of each of the Fellowship placement phases, Fellows will receive their stipend at the non-academic "Max Trav" rate, and all subsequent months will be at the non-academic "Max Res" rate. Stipend paid to Fellows while outside the home country is a monthly allowance intended to cover the cost of lodging, board and other essentials such as laundry and local transport. Stipend is normally payable in the local currency of the host country. Stipend is not a salary or honorarium. It is not intended to cover the Fellows' continuing expenses at home for themselves, nor their families. Stipends will be paid for the entire duration of the Fellowship.


Specific information regarding the travel and payment instructions will be provided to the Fellow, as early as possible, but not before all medical, placement and visa procedures have been completed.


Once Fellows start their placements at United Nations Headquarters, they should open a local bank account, and complete and return a "Funds Transfer Form" (F249) to DOALOS without delay. This form is available for download here. Please note that it normally takes 5-10 working days for the first payment to be deposited to this account.


Subsequent payments will be made through direct bank transfers to the bank account as stipulated in the Funds Transfer Request Form filed by the Fellow. If Fellows are unable to open a bank account due to local banking policies, they are requested to immediately contact DOALOS.


As international financial transactions are strictly regulated, Fellows are strongly advised to open a local bank account and communicate their banking information to DOALOS immediately upon arrival so as to avoid delays in the transfer of subsequent stipend payments.


2. Visas


It is very important that once Fellows receive an Award, they immediately begin applying for a United States of America visa. While the United Nations may provide Fellows with certain supporting documents in this regard, the timely securing of all necessary visa “including transit visa(s)” is the sole responsibility of the Fellows. Although the Fellows are also responsible for the costs of obtaining visa(s), it should be noted that the first month’s stipend rate (“Max Trav” rate) is higher than the subsequent months (“Max Res” rate) so as to offset such costs.


Fellows will not be authorized to travel until they have secured the necessary visa(s).


Fellows should understand that certain visa application processes are very lengthy and thus they should plan accordingly while considering the timing of their placements and the overall duration of the Fellowship tenure.


Once Fellows have secured the required visa(s), they should immediately provide a copy to DOALOS so that Travel and Payment instructions can be processed.


Fellows are asked not to take family members with them during the Fellowship placements. The United Nations will not provide any supporting documentation for visa application(s) of family members. Also note that the monthly stipend rates are sufficient to cover the normal living expenses of one person, and that no allowances of any kind will be paid for accompanying family members. Furthermore, the Fellows medical insurance, which is arranged by the United Nations, will not cover any family members accompanying Fellows during their tenure. Fellows should also consider that, in the course of their award, they may be required to travel under circumstances that would make it difficult or impossible for their family members to accompany them.


3. Medical Clearance and Insurance


Awarded Fellows will complete the required United Nations medical clearance process (detailed information will be shared after Awards are made).


Fellows will then be enrolled in a medical insurance scheme for the duration of their Fellowship programme. This coverage is provided by Cigna International Health Services BVBA, Belgium.



4. Housing


Fellows are responsible for securing their accommodations. The United Nations will not act on behalf of the Fellows, serve as guarantors, or accept any liabilities or responsibilities in this regard.


Fellows are strongly encouraged to research local housing markets as soon as possible, and secure their accommodations as early as possible.