Mandated by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly, the United Nations deploys peacekeeping and special political missions to the field in support of a particular country or region.

The Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) is the principal support structure for peacemaking and preventive diplomacy efforts. The Department provides support to numerous envoys of the Secretary-General engaged in peace talks or crisis diplomacy, while overseeing more than a dozen field-based United Nations "political missions" with mandates to help nations and regions resolve conflicts and tensions peacefully. Of these missions, regional offices covering Central AfricaWest Africa and Central Asia have explicit mandates for preventive diplomacy and strengthening the capacity of states and regional actors to manage sources of tension peacefully.

There are currently 14 peacekeeping operations led by the Department of Peace Operations (DPO). UN Peacekeeping helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace. They bring unique strengths, including legitimacy, burden sharing, and an ability to deploy troops and police from around the world, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to address a range of mandates set by the UN Security Council and General Assembly. 

The Department of Operational Support (DOS) oversees one support mission, the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS).


Terminology of Senior Leadership Posts


Special Representative and Deputy Special Representatives of the Secretary-General (SRSG/DSRSG)


Special Representatives of the Secretary-General serve at the level and title designated by the Secretary-General. 

Sometimes the designation is prescribed by the Security Council or the General Assembly. In the context of hybrid missions (e.g. African Union and UN in Darfur), Heads and deputy Heads of Mission are named Joint Special Representative (JSR) and Deputy Joint Special Representative (DJSR).




Under-Secretary-General (USG) and Assistant Secretary-General (ASG)


USG and ASG are acronyms used to describe a level of appointment. Senior leaders at these levels can perform a number of functions across the UN System, such as: Head or Deputy Head of a Department, a Special Representative, or Special Envoy or perform other high-level functions.




Special Coordinator


Normally appointed at USG-level, the Special Coordinator is a special or personal representative who coordinates the work of the United Nations and represents the Secretary-General on all political aspects of the United Nations’ work in a country. An example is the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.




Special Envoy


Special Envoys of the Secretary-General are usually assigned at the USG or ASG level to undertake a special mission relating to matters of which the Security Council or the General Assembly are seized, for example the Special Envoy for Yemen or the Special Envoy on Sexual Violence in Conflict.




Deputy Special Representative/Resident Coordinator (RC)/Humanitarian Coordinator (HC)


Candidates for these ‘multi-hatted’ positions are drawn from a dedicated Resident Coordinator pool. In countries where an integrated peacekeeping or political mission is deployed, one Deputy SRSG also serves as Resident Coordinator and, where applicable, Humanitarian Coordinator and is responsible for the coordination of the development and humanitarian assistance, including early and longer-term recovery.

In countries where no Peace Operation is deployed the Resident Coordinator is the designated representative of the UN Secretary-General and leader of United Nations Country Team at country level. In humanitarian contexts, the RC may also serve as the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC).




The United Nations offers an attractive remuneration package with competitive pay and benefits. Salary is calculated on the basis of a worldwide scale and benefits take into account dependants and the cost of living at the duty station. 


Duty stations


Field mission locations can be located in a family or a non-family duty station. For reasons of safety and security or based on the limited availability of certain services, some duty stations are designated as “non-family”, meaning that dependents are restricted from being present at the duty station. 


Selection Processes


SRSGs and DSRSGs are appointed by the Secretary-General. They report to the Secretary-General through the USG of the Department (DPO, DPPA or DOS) overseeing the respective field mission. When a specific vacancy arises, the Secretariat conducts its own search and consultations to identify suitable candidates for these appointments. The  Leadership Database is one source for identifying talent. Shortlisting for specific positions -- as and when a vacancy arises -- will draw from this generic pool and supplement the Secretariat’s own search and consultations. Candidates found suitable for a specific vacancy may be invited to participate in a competitive assessment process.

As part of the selection process, candidates are subject to a human rights and ethics screening.


Human Rights Screening


Individuals who seek to serve with the United Nations in any individual capacity will be required, if short-listed for a specific position, to complete a self-attestation stating that they have not committed, been convicted of, nor prosecuted for, any criminal offence and have not been involved, by act or omission, in the commission of any violation of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.


Conflict of Interest


All United Nations staff members are expected to uphold the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity. Senior leaders in particular, have the responsibility to serve as role models in upholding the organization’s ethical standards. A conflict of interest occurs when, by act or omission, a staff member's personal interests interfere with the performance of his/her official duties and responsibilities, or call into question his/her integrity, independence and impartiality. Risk for conflicts of interest may arise from a staff member's engagement in outside (non-UN) employment or occupation; outside activities, including political activities; receipt of gifts, honours, awards, favours or remuneration from external (non-UN) sources; or personal investment. In particular, no staff member shall accept any honour, decoration, favour, gift or remuneration from any Government (staff regulation 1.2 (j)). Where a real or perceived conflict of interest does arise, senior leaders are obligated to disclose this to the organization without delay. In order to avoid real or perceived family influence or preferential treatment and conflicts of interest that could stem from such situations, the UN Staff Rules provide that appointments “shall not be granted to anyone who is the father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister of a staff member” (staff rule 4.7 (a)).

Short-listed individuals will also be required to complete the pre-appointment declaration of interests for senior positions to identify possible conflicts of interest that may arise and to proactively prevent and manage, as much as possible and in a timely manner, situations in which personal interests may conflict or appear to conflict with the interests of the United Nations, should the individual be appointed to a position.