Vacancy Announcement - Research Associate

Title: Research Associate

Unit/Department: UNOSAT / Research Department

Type of contract: Fellow

Date of issuance: 28 September 2017

Deadline for applications: 27 October 2017

Duty Station: Geneva, Switzerland

Duration of contract: 12 months


Depending on the professional background and experience, the range of remuneration is CHF 5,460 to CHF 6,950 per month. The benefit package includes six weeks of annual leave and a limited health insurance plan. It does not include a pension contribution. This position is a type of contract specific to UNITAR.


UNOSAT is the operational satellite applications programme of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). It is a technology-intensive programme active since 2001 in applied research and innovative applications relating to geospatial information technology and satellite analysis, and mapping.

UNOSAT also delivers tailor made training courses to its beneficiaries on the use of geo-information technology for humanitarian aid, human security, disaster risk management, territorial planning and environmental monitoring.

The incumbent will work on activities in support of UN partners in the areas of human rights, human security, humanitarian support, and development. He/she will be expected to maintain and expand upon UNOSAT geospatial analysis and web publishing services in these sectors.


Under the direct supervision of UNOSAT’s Manager, the incumbent shall:

  • Serve as the technical focal point on projects involving infrastructure assessment and the development of web-based information systems that meet partner specifications by:
    • Overseeing discussions with external partners to develop specific plans and activities that meet project goals.
    • Taking an active part in processes to identify and procure satellite images, download and process imagery and/or conduct geospatial data analysis and develop and run internal and external coordination mechanisms;
    • Developing accurate and timely geospatial data and web service products derived from analysis;
    • Helping ensure continuity in web service products by monitoring and understanding IT infrastructure involved.
    • Supporting coordination of larger scale production when needed, according to deadlines and requirements developed with project partners.
  • Contribute to and occasionally lead additional UNOSAT analyses within human rights, human security, and humanitarian support by:
    • Working closely with the UNOSAT mapping focal point and other staff to rapidly assess and understand the dynamics of ongoing projects and situations.
    • Developing geospatial data necessary for acquiring and analysing relevant satellite imagery, and conducting high-quality change detection as needed, damage assessments and territorial monitoring, including conflict situations, protection issues, and more.

    • Creating cartographic products, geospatial data, and web services as needed and in accordance with UN partner needs.
    • Helping quality control for damage assessments;
    • Controlling the quality of cartographic products and reports by ensuring the latest templates and standards are respected;
    • Contributing to UNOSAT´s on-call rotation system;
    • Completing and updating research and development activities that further the application of geospatial technologies and web services in UNOSAT´s areas of activity.
  • Perform other duties as required.

Results Expected

High quality web-based geospatial information systems developed to UNOSAT partner specifications and in accordance with agreed budgets and deliverables; effective collaboration with major external partners for project development and planning purposes; contribution to ongoing UNOSAT operations on international development, human rights, human security, and humanitarian support; quality control of products from UNOSAT colleagues as needed; research and development activities related to web services as possible.


  • Professionalism: Ability to identify issues, analyse and participate in the resolution of issues/problems. Ability to conduct data collection using various methods. Conceptual analytical and evaluative skills to conduct independent research and analysis, including familiarity with and experience in the use of various research sources, including electronic sources on the internet, intranet and other databases in particular in the field of geospatial technologies and human rights, security, humanitarian support, and international development. Takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work.
  • Planning & Organizing: Ability to apply judgment in the context of assignments given, plan own work and manage conflicting priorities. Is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remains calm in stressful situations. Based on the supervision received, develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies; identifies priority activities and assignments with minimal supervision; adjusts priorities as required; allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary in a coordinated manner; uses time efficiently.
  • Teamwork: Works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve organizational goals; solicits input by genuinely valuing others’ ideas and expertise; is willing to learn from others; places team agenda before personal agenda; very good inter-personal skills and a demonstrated capacity to deal with colleagues and counterparts from different backgrounds, and proven ability to function in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnical environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.
  • Technological Awareness: Keeps abreast of technology development; understands applicability and limitations of satellite technology to the work of the Programme; possess good knowledge of technicalities of earth observation, satellite data and geographic information systems for water management; shows willingness to learn new technology applications.
  • Communication: Excellent communication skills (spoken, written and presentation), including the ability to draft/edit a variety of written documents, such as technical and scientific papers, reports, studies, strategies, training material and other communication materials, articulating ideas in a clear and concise style; ability to prepare and deliver targeted and results-oriented presentations including facilitation skills in training related activities; listens to others, correctly interprets messages from others and responds appropriately; asks questions to clarify, and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; tailors language, tone, style and format to match audience; demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed; strong interpersonal and communication skills including facilitation skills in training related activities.


Education:       Advanced university degree (Master or equivalent) in geography, geospatial sciences, remote sensing, or related field. A first-level university degree in combination with qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Experience:      A minimum of two years of progressively responsible experience in the fields of map production and geographic information systems, and any other relevant fields. Experience with the implementation and delivery of professional mapping activities at international level would be an asset.

Languages:     Fluency in oral and written English is required. Good knowledge of French will be considered an asset.

UNITAR is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Qualified women, individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups, and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidentiality.

English and French are the two working languages of the United Nations Secretariat.  Priority will be given to the applicants from the under-represented regions at UNITAR. There will be a probation period of 3 months.

How to apply

All applicants are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible after the vacancy has been posted and well before the deadline stated in the vacancy announcement.

Only complete applications will be considered. A letter of motivation written in English well as the P11 form/ Curriculum Vitae are to be sent at

UN staff members must submit copies of their latest Performance Appraisal System (PAS) report at the time of application.