Communications Officer

  • Location:
  • Salary:
  • Job type:
  • Posted:
    2 weeks ago
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  • Deadline:
    December 15, 2022



Standard Job Description

Communications Officer Organizational Setting and Work Relationships In line with its Global Communications Strategy, UNHCR requires skilled communications professionals to conceive and execute a range of activities that help us lead the narrative on forced displacement, generate empathy and mobilize action. This body of work spans communications strategy and coordination, news and media relations, multimedia content production, social media engagement, Goodwill Ambassadors and other influencers, public outreach and campaigns, fundraising, analytics and brand. UNHCR¿s Communications Officers need to cultivate a keen understanding of our target audiences¿including an up-to-the-minute grasp of the methods and tone of voice that resonate deeply, win trust and spark quality engagement. They must be vigilant about editorial and journalistic standards, attentive to protection concerns and political sensitivities, and focused on communicating successfully with key demographics. These audiences will vary by location, language and platform, among other factors, as well as whether the aim is to inform, advocate or raise funds. Communications Officers¿ functions, working relationships and skills specializations differ depending on language, location, grade, and whether they sit within a country operation, a regional bureau or the Global Communications Service. UNHCR¿s primary target audiences include public, media and policymakers, while our main partners and influencers include peers and private sector, trusted figures and our own workforce. Some communicators will focus mainly on news and media relations, for example, while others will produce multimedia content, manage social media accounts or lead advocacy campaigns. Forging partnerships with media outlets that reach target audiences is a central role for all Communications Officers. All Communications Officers are expected to work strategically in support of UNHCR¿s operational and communications objectives for their geographic area of responsibility (AoR) as well as global priorities. Communications approaches should reflect our core values as an organization that is caring, trustworthy, proactive, outcome-focused and responsive. This will reinforce UNHCR¿s role as the lead agency that protects refugees, internally displaced and stateless people and mobilizes action to provide solutions. All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core, functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR¿s core values of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity. Duties – Support the development and implementation of communications strategies for countries, situations and special projects; identify thematic priorities and target audiences to meet UNHCR¿s global communications objectives. – Monitor news and popular trends to insert UNHCR¿s messaging into ongoing conversations; identify key moments for proactive communications. – Forge strategic partnerships with individuals and organizations who can help produce and promote UNHCR content, activities and messaging as well as provide research insights to improve communications; promote the work of engaged businesses and civil society actors. – Contribute to development of news-driven and authoritative content to lead the narrative on forced displacement and show UNHCR¿s impact (e.g. interviews, press releases, flagship reports, speeches), create emotive storytelling to generate empathy (e.g. stories, multimedia content) and mobilize action by signposting concrete steps people can take to help refugees (e.g. digital diplomacy, action-driven campaigns, fundraising). – Ensure content created reaches maximum impact by developing strategies for distribution from the outset, boosting the visibility of our content on relevant UNHCR channels and placing it on external channels. – Closely monitor the implementation of communications projects and adjust accordingly. Benchmark the results of communications projects against set success indicators; build on communications successes. Additional duties for news and media roles: – Develop and implement communications strategies, campaigns, events and other initiatives in support of UNHCR’s strategic objectives, including its need for leading share of voice on refugee and related matters, and ensure coverage of refugee situations in their country or region in global and domestic media. – Research, prepare, fact-check, edit and produce professional media and communications materials for target audiences and ensure their timely dissemination via UNHCR’s communications channels, ensuring highest quality standards. – Draft media releases, statements and media briefing notes, and secure clearances, working in conjunction with relevant focal points and keeping sensitive to needs of both internal and external audiences. – Act as a spokesperson for UNHCR, organizing press events, handling interviews requests and providing responses to requests from media relating to UNHCR and its work. – Engage with journalists and public audiences via social media channels. – Regularly provide ideas for communications initiatives and considered professional communications advice to senior staff of UNHCR. – Undertake missions and field trips with media and other official visitors in support of UNHCR and its work. – Actively maintain media relations for UNHCR, ensuring that media (and other important external stakeholders, such as governments, embassies, NGOs etc.) are briefed regularly on issues of importance to UNHCR, and have access to information and UNHCR expertise. – Prepare and manage communications budgets. – Ensure alignment with UNHCR¿s global branding and messaging. – Continually maintain and upgrade communications skills, keeping abreast of emerging platforms and tools, and systematically reviewing media impact results and other measurement tools for learning purposes. Additional duties for news and media roles within the Global Communications Service – Oversee coordination of communications work for their designated regions and thematic issues, working closely with communications staff in bureaux and country offices and in collaboration with the senior communications officers/advisers in that region. – Manage a wide network of relationships at all levels across bureaux, divisions and offices (including the Executive Office) to ensure timely internal information sharing as a foundation for grounded communications, and to build consensus around communications proposals. – Maintain close involvement in communications recruitment and training needs for assigned regions, keeping in mind UNHCR¿s goals of employing and retaining the world¿s leading humanitarian communications expertise. Additional duties for news and media roles within Country Offices – Act as the primary interface on communications matters between their country office and the Global Communications Service. – Act as the lead for crisis communications work for their country, alerting the GCS/News & Media Section¿s crisis communications lead to risk issues and ensuring close coordination. Additional duties for news and media roles within Regional Bureaux – Regularly provide ideas for communications initiatives and considered professional communications advice to senior Bureau staff and Representatives of Country Operations overseen by the Bureau. – Oversee data and information gathering and sharing of information with a view to ensuring the Bureau¿s authority as a centre of up to date knowledge and expertise relating to its region. – Assist the Senior Management of the Bureau to implement advocacy objectives for the Bureau, and oversee development of supporting communications strategies for these, working in conjunction with staff of the Global Communications Service and communications staff in the region. – Ensure Bureau staff are aware of UNHCR¿s global positioning needs. – Perform other related duties as required. Minimum Qualifications Years of Experience / Degree Level For P3/NOC – 6 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 5 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 4 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree Field(s) of Education Journalism; International Relations; Political Science; Communications; Public Information; Media Film / Video; or other relevant field. (Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk* are essential) Certificates and/or Licenses not specified Relevant Job Experience Essential Minimum 4years of professional experience in journalism and/or communications, mainly at international level. Desirable Experience developing and implementing communications strategies. Strong social media presence. Experience working on advocacy campaigns. Experience working with goodwill ambassadors and other high-profile influencers. Experience with brand management. Experience with measurement and evaluation, especially providing analysis of media coverage, social media engagement, web traffic, etc. Experience reporting, writing, editing for magazines, newspapers and websites. Experience using digital asset management systems. Experience with digital analytics and performance reporting. Functional Skills Required skills will vary according to the precise nature of the role, location, etc. but may include: CO-Drafting and Documentation CO-International Media Contacts CO-Preparation of key messages/talking points/speeches CO-Spokesperson skills CO-Strategic Communication CO-Public Speaking CO-Video production for digital platforms (including news organizations) CO-Journalism (incl. print, broadcast, photography, video, layout & graphics) CO-Editing CO-Digital content production (Functional Skills marked with an asterisk* are essential) Language Requirements For International Professional and Field Service jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English. For National Professional jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English and local language. For General Service jobs: Knowledge of English and/or UN working language of the duty station if not English. All UNHCR workforce members must individually and collectively, contribute towards a working environment where each person feels safe, and empowered to perform their duties. This includes by demonstrating no tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, harassment including sexual harassment, sexism, gender inequality, discrimination and abuse of power. As individuals and as managers, all must be proactive in preventing and responding to inappropriate conduct, support ongoing dialogue on these matters and speaking up and seeking guidance and support from relevant UNHCR resources when these issues arise. This is a Standard Job Description for all UNHCR jobs with this job title and grade level. The Operational Context may contain additional essential and/or desirable qualifications relating to the specific operation and/or position. Any such requirements are incorporated by reference in this Job Description and will be considered for the screening, shortlisting and selection of candidates. 

Desired Candidate Profile

The incumbent of this position will be expected to have strong leadership and management skills (both human and financial resources), political acumen, proven written and oral communication skills in both English and Italian, which will be key for MCO to continue to lead the refugee narrative while promoting engagement and mobilization for PoCs in Italy. Also, the Communications Officer will support UNHCR’s campaigning and media coverage at a global level while ensuring management and oversight of the Comms team in Italy. 

Required languages (expected Overall ability is at least B2 level):



Desired languages



Operational context

Occupational Safety and Health Considerations:

To view occupational safety and health considerations for this duty station, please visit this link:


Nature of Position:

Italy remains one of the major points of arrival for persons of concern seeking protection to Europe, with most of them arriving by sea via the Mediterranean. So far in 2022, 85,000 migrants and refugees originating from 57 countries arrived in Italy by sea with Italy receiving 70% of all sea arrivals to Southern Europe. Based upon current arrival trends, it is anticipated that in 2023 Italy will continue to receive the large bulk of all asylum-seekers arriving in Europe by sea as well as an increasing number arriving by land and air. While there have been fluctuations in levels of arrivals, the drivers of the movements from the Sahel, Tigray and other countries moving along the Central Mediterranean and Balkan routes will remain or worsen because of the negative impacts of the global pandemic. MCO Italy has launched a revised operational strategy focusing on ensuring protection outcome for refugee through strengthened integration initiatives as well as more robust CBP interventions.


The Communications Officer will respond to the current operational context by directly reporting to the Representative and functionally to the Head of PSP Italy. The incumbent of this position will be expected to have strong leadership and management skills (both human and financial resources), political acumen, proven written and oral communication skills in both English and Italian, which will be key for MCO to continue to lead the refugee narrative while promoting engagement and mobilization for PoCs in Italy.  Also, the Communications Officer will support UNHCR’s campaigning and media coverage at a global level while ensuring management and oversight of the Comms team in Italy.

Living and Working Conditions:

Rome is a HQ Duty Station. Italy has a strong UN presence (more than 10 Agencies Programmes and Funds totaling more than 6’000 staff) and is offering high standard of living conditions and relatively high cost of living.

There is no RC System hence no formal inter-agency coordination system other than the DO for Security related matters. FAO leads the UN team and collaborates closely with Rome based WFP and IFAD HQ.
The Italian authorities will issue a visa and residence permit to UNHCR international staff members. Before arriving at a new duty station, finding an accommodation will be a priority. There are some limited facilities to access Duty Free privileges. Buying a new vehicle is a lengthy process while buying second hand is even more complex. The public transport system is relatively reliable, and most colleagues have elected to reside in the office neighborhood.


A valid driving license issued by a European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) member state is automatically accepted in all other member states. People with EU/EEA-issued driver’s license who take up residence in Italy are not required to exchange it for an Italian license.

Holders of a standard driving license issued from a non-EU/EEA country may drive in Italy using the foreign license for up to one year after obtaining residency.


Medical care is up to international standards.

UN International expatriates are covered by the medical insurance provided from their workplace. No additional medical coverage is required. A list of English-speaking doctors can be provided, upon request, by the FAO Medical Services.


There are several international schools in Rome. The academic year for schools in Italy is from September to June. Generally, schools have long waiting lists and it is advisable to register your child at school as soon as possible. You should also find out about the specific admission requirements at the school. Transfer certificates from previous schools and academic records are usually required. Contracts are made between the school and private individuals regarding payments of school fees.


This means any deposits and commitments to pay fees are your responsibility and not the UN’s.
Spouse employment can be challenging, particularly in a post Covid-19 situation where the economy was affected.




Additional Qualifications





BA: Communication (Required), BA: International Relations (Required), BA: Political Science (Required), BA: Public Professions (Required) 



Work Experience


Accountability, Analytical thinking, Client & results orientation, Commitment to continuous learning, Communication, Empowering & building trust, Innovation & creativity, Judgement & decision making, Leadership, Organizational awareness, Political awareness, Strategic planning & visions, Teamwork & collaboration

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Bi-annual Compendium 2022 Part B – November 2022 





Functional clearance

This position requires Functional Clearance