Role of the Special Representative and their deputies


The Special Representatives of the Secretary-General (SRSGs) are appointed by the Secretary-General. They report to the Secretary-General through the Under-Secretary-General of the Department overseeing the respective field mission.

The SRSGs also serve as Heads of Mission and are expected to:

  • Develop a shared vision for fulfilling the mandate of the Security Council and set the strategic direction to achieve goals and objectives, including establishing the Mission’s transition/exit strategy;
  • Provide good offices on behalf of the Secretary-General through political support for efforts to resolve conflict, facilitating negotiations, fostering peace and building confidence among parties;
  • Provide overall leadership to the comprehensive United Nations engagement in the host country, in accordance with the principle of integration, and promote a joint vision of the United Nations’ strategic objectives; establish a framework that guides the activities of the Mission and the United Nations Country team, leverages their combined comparative advantage and ensures that all the United Nations components in the country pursue a coordinated and coherent approach in support of the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Ensure the United Nations engagement and actions within the country are guided by international human rights standards; and meet UN responsibilities as set by the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Up Front initiative;
  • Provide leadership, political guidance and high-level operational direction in the execution of Mission activities;
  • Pursuant to the Secretary-General’s Delegation of Authority (DoA), is responsible for the management of the Mission’s financial, physical and human resources while ensuring cost-effectiveness, as well as integrity and achieving programmatic objectives;
  • Report to the Secretary-General, senior United Nations officials, the Security Council, other United Nations bodies and Member States on developments in the host country and all matters relating to the implementation of the Mission’s mandate;
  • As Designated Official (DO), ensure the safety and security of staff (and dependents, if appropriate) of the United Nations and the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes in the mission area;
  • Engage routinely with both local and international media based on a coherent media strategy for the Mission; speak on behalf of the United Nations in the host country;
  • Take transformative actions to accelerate gender equality and Women, Peace and Security commitments, including championing targeted positive measures to ensure women’s meaningful participation on peace and political processes and support the attainment of gender parity across all levels and units in the mission;
  • Build a mission culture of accountability, integrity and respect, and which promotes the highest standards of conduct among all members of the mission.


In integrated mission settings, the SRSG is often supported by two deputies, one of which is also hatted as the Resident Coordinator, and in humanitarian settings, as the Humanitarian Coordinator. They are therefore termed “triple-hatted” or “multi-hatted DSRSG”. To be eligible for DSRSG/RC/(HC) assignments, a preliminary requirement is to have passed the Resident Coordinator Assessment and be included in the Resident Coordinator pool. For more information about the Resident Coordinator function, visit the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.

Reporting directly to the SRSG, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) is responsible for providing overall vision and leadership to the strategic planning and the implementation of programmes under the DSRSG pillar. The DSRSG also acts as officer-in-charge in the absence of the SRSG.


"Inclusive leadership means acknowledging whose voices have not been heard, in order to create space for those who have not yet claimed it for themselves."

Bintou Keita is the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). In this photo, Bintou Keita served as Deputy Joint Special Representative for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).



In recognition of the highly complex nature of these mission leadership posts, the United Nations is seeking individuals with:

  • A minimum of 20 years of relevant professional experience, including at least 5 years at senior and representational level, in conflict, post-conflict, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, development settings, and/or experience in governance, mediation, facilitation and/or negotiations at the national and/or international level;
  • Demonstrated knowledge in reconciliation, conflict resolution, humanitarian, peacekeeping, development, human rights, rule of law and/or governance issues;
  • Demonstrated leadership experience with strategic vision and proven skills in leading complex organizations, such as intergovernmental, international non-governmental or multinational private sector entities;
  • A high degree of emotional intelligence, political acumen and diplomatic skills;
  • Excellent communication and advocacy skills;
  • Proven ability to inspire, build trust, confidence and consensus amongst stakeholders and foster partnerships at the local, national or regional level to create opportunities and promote processes to advance peace and security;
  • High commitment to the values and guiding principles of the United Nations, including impeccable personal integrity, respect for and commitment to human rights and demonstrated cultural and gender sensitivity;
  • Demonstrated knowledge and track record of taking transformative actions to accelerate gender equality and Women, Peace and security commitments;
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a multi-cultural team and establish harmonious and effective working relationships both within and outside the organization;
  • Familiarity with the United Nations system, including peacekeeping, humanitarian and developments settings, as well as knowledge of the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this Call for Nominations, fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another United Nations official language, in particular Arabic, French, or Spanish, is an advantage given the areas of deployment of United Nations field missions.

Carlos Ruiz Massieu

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Colombia and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia
(UN Verification Mission in Colombia)

(In Spanish, English subtitles)

Huang Xia

Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes Region 
(Office of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes)

(In Chinese and French, English subtitles)

Lisa Filipetto

Head of Mission
United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS)

(in English)

Najat Rochdi

Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL)

Also former Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA)

(in French)

David Shearer

Former Special Representative of the Secretary-General in South Sudan and
Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

(in English)

Meet UN Mission Leaders

The United Nations Special Representatives of the Secretary-General speak about their role and motivations to lead UN Field Missions (2019).



(in multiple languages, English subtitles)