Employment at the UN

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As of 2006, the UN Secretariat and regional commissions employed some 14,000 people. The mandatory retirement age for staff appointed since January 1990 is 62. The UN offers attractive remuneration packages and benefits. Starting salaries are based upon academic and professional qualifications, as well as the level of the post. The base salary scales are set by the General Assembly. There is also a post adjustment element based on the cost of living and the rate of exchange of local currency visàvis the US dollar at each duty station.

The Charter of the UN contains the principle of equality of men and women as it relates to the recruitment of all staff. Accordingly, the General Assembly set out clear directives aimed at promoting the appointment of women to professional posts as one of the main objectives of recruitment policy, with the view of achieving a more equitable balance between men and women among the staff.

Vacancies in the Professional category call for persons with professional qualifications in fields related to the work of the UN. Special attention is paid to the development and maintenance of a proper balance among member states. Entry-level posts, as a rule, are filled through competitive recruitment examinations and interviews organized on a rotational basis for nationals of inadequately represented member states. Candidates for posts in the Professional category are expected to have an advanced university degree in addition to the relevant professional experience. Vacancies for the Professional category occur in the following occupations: administration; economics; electronic data processing; finance; language and related work; legal and related work; library; public information; social development; and statistics.

Vacancies in the category of General Service occur in the following occupational groups: secretarial and clerical positions; text processors; and accounting and statistical clerks. The General Service staff of each major office away from UN headquarters is recruited locally, that is, from the area in which the particular office is located.

The specialized agencies (i.e. UNESCO, FAO, IAEA, etc.) conduct their own recruitment programs. Their clerical and secretarial staff are recruited locally from among the residents of the area in which a particular agency is located.


As of 2005, approximately 3.3% of staff were in the Director category, 35.1% in the Professional category, and 61.1% in the General Service and related categories. More than 72.2% of all staff came from 24 member states that each had more than 100 nationals as staff members. There were more than 400 nationals in the Secretariat from each of the following six member states: Ethiopia, France, Kenya, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Of the 191 member states, 177 were represented in all staff categories as compared with 174 for staff in posts subject to geographical distribution. A total of 14 member states were unrepresented (Angola, Brunei Darussalam, Comoros, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, São Tomé and Principe, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, and the United Arab Emirates). The global gender distribution of Secretariat staff showed an almost evenly balanced female/male staff distribution (51.5/48.5). This figure, however, does not indicate significant differences in gender representation by grade, category, and department or office. In spite of a general increase in all categories, the two most senior grades of the Secretariat (Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General) had a low female representation (23.7%). Female staff were also poorly represented in the Director category (33.25%). In the Professional category, the proportion of female staff was 41.3%. It was higher at entry levels, where numbers were close to or above the General Assembly mandate of gender parity. Female staff constituted the majority in the General Service category. As of 30 June 2005, the average age of the staff was 46 years. More than half57%of all Secretariat staff were older than 45, 27.5% were younger than 40, and only 4.6% were younger than 30. The average length of service for staff with permanent appointments was 20.7 years (23.7 years for Directors, 16 years for Professionals, and 25 years for staff in the General Service and related categories).


UNHCR: 6,540WHO: 3,500
UNRWA: 24,320ICAO: 800
UNU: 210ILO: 2,600
UNICEF: 7,000ITU: 880
UNCTAD: 400IMO: 300
WFP: 8,830WIPO: 940
UNEP: 800
UNRISD: 20IAEA: 2,200
UNIFEM: 200WTO (World Trade Organization): 635
FAO: 3,700IMF: 2,700
UNESCO: 2,840World Bank: 10,000

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Employment at the UN

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