Secretariat of the International Strategy of Disaster Reduction (ISDR), Geneva, Switzerland

Secretariat of the International Strategy of Disaster Reduction (ISDR), Geneva, Switzerland

Request from

Secretariat of the International Strategy of Disaster Reduction (ISDR), Geneva, Switzerland


INT-183-08-P079-01-V (revised Oct 2008)

General Information

Title: Associate Public Information Officer

Duration:1 year (with possible extension for another year)

Date Required:As soon as possible

Sector:United NationsInter-Agency Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR)

Duty station:UN Headquarters, New York


Title of Supervisor: Liaison Officer

Content and methodology of the supervision: The Liaison Officer, who reports directly to the Director of the ISDR Secretariat, will supervise the Associate Public Information Officer. The Associate Expert will be expected to assist with all the activities of the ISDR Secretariat, as instructed by the supervisor and in collaboration with other ISDR staff based in different ISDR offices and units all around the world. He/She will be provided with the opportunity to familiarise with the UN's administrative procedures as well as the entire substantive part of the work related to disaster reduction.

He/She will be expected to become familiar with the scientific, technical, social, economic and developmental aspects of disaster reductionto contribute to the efficient implementation of ISDR, including the follow up to the World Conference on Disaster Reduction and preparations for the mid-term review of the Hyogo Framework for Action.

Duties, responsibilities and output expectations

Within the ISDR Secretariat, the Associate Public Information Officer will be expected to contribute to the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, through the following functions in the New York based ISDR Liaison Office:

  1. Plan, develop and organize UN/New York based outreach activities and high-level advocacy events of ISDR, including communication campaigns and provides support to ISDR headquarters Advocacy unit, OCHA, DPI and other relevant media teams as requested.
  1. Serves as a US/New York based liaison to media organizations, private sector, and other relevant public information constituencies, organizes media coverage, seminars, lectures, conferences, public events and arranges media contacts, briefings, interviews on major disaster risk reduction and related issues.
  1. Builds information networks, and acts as a liaison office focal point for information management (incl. PreventionWeb)
  1. Drafts materials for UN and ISDR newsletters, periodicals, reports and publications and edits drafts prepared by other colleagues of the unit.
  1. Represents the institution in meetings and conferences, fulfils speaking engagements and makes presentations to various groups on ISDR activities.
  1. Undertake any other professional duties consistent with the experience and professional standing of the Associate Public Information Officer, as may be requested by the Liaison Officer or the Director of the UN/ISDR Secretariat.

Qualifications: Advanced university degree incommunication, journalism, international business administration, management, economics or a related field. Fluency in English is required, while knowledge of another UN language is desirable.

UN competencies: Proven ability to plan and organise information, as well as proven analytical and problem-solving skills. Ability to conduct independent research, identify issues, formulate options to make recommendations are essential. Good communication skills, speaks and writes clearly and effectively. Knowledge of different aspects of public information and communication. Works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve goals. Takes ownership of all responsibilities and honours commitments. Independent judgement. Actively seeks to develop oneself professionally and personally.

Work experience: Knowledge of and professional experience in communication, public information or other related and relevant field. Knowledge on disaster reduction issues and ISDR system would be desirable.A minimum of two years working experience is encouraged.

Learning Elements

By the completion of his/her first year of assignment, it is expected that the Associate Public Information Officer has a broad base understanding of public information and communication aspects of disaster reduction within the UN system and beyond, the UN's administrative procedures, knowledge of and contacts with a wide range of constituents related to media, public information and disaster reduction, as well as skills in drafting and synthesising materials and producing reliable, succinct reports. It is also hoped the Associate Public Information Officer will develop a commitment to promoting disaster reduction and that he/she feels they are making a contribution to the cause.

After the assignment the Associate Public Information Officer will be able to:

Better understand how public information and communication aspects of disaster reduction are dealt with in the UN system and beyond. Prepare information and briefs in according to UN standards. To monitor progress and prepare summary reports on disaster reduction initiatives, according to established criteria. Communicate with Member states, other UN agencies and other ISDR partners.

Background Information

The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction was adopted by the UN General Assembly in resolution 54/219 as the successor to the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.

The General Assembly established the Inter-Agency Task Force and the Inter-Agency Secretariat as the two main instruments for the promotion of the Strategy. The Inter-agency Task Force was further upgraded to a Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (in 2007), chaired by the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and which serves as the main global forum for disaster risk reduction, open for representatives from Governments, UN agencies, regional institutions and the civil society. The Secretariat of the ISDR, which, in keeping with the provisions of the UN General Assembly resolution 54/219 is a distinct entity under the direct authority of the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, serves as the focal point within the UN system for the coordination of strategies and programmes for disaster reduction. The mandate of the ISDR was strengthened by GA resolution 56/195, 11 December of 2001 as well as by the Hyogo Framework for Action and the subsequent GA resolution in 2005.

The mission of the UN/ISDR secretariat is to catalyze, facilitate and mobilize the commitment and resources of national, regional and international stakeholders of the ISDR to build the resilience of nations and communities to disasters through implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action. In seeking to implement this mandate, the secretariat’s three main objectives are: (1) to ensure and enhance coordination and coherent action among ISDR system partners to support the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (2) to achieve greater recognition of and commitment to disaster risk reduction and the Hyogo Framework among policy and decision makers world-wide, guided by technically sound policies and practices (3) to ensure that information and knowledge on risk status, progress and guidance to implement Hyogo Framework are available at country, regional and global levels.

The ISDR Secretariat works in close collaboration with governments, national platforms, sub-regional and regional institutions, various UN agencies, the scientific community, the private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders in the ISDR community.

The secretariat headquarters is located in Geneva, where the Director’s office oversees units for policy development, advocacy and partnerships, information management, global progress reporting, inter-agency programming and monitoring, donor relations and administration. Regional outreach offices are located in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The New York Liaison Office is a small set up, currently composed of a Liaison Officer and a JPO. The main functions of this office include support to the USG/ASG for Humanitarian Affairs in their leadership role as the high level ISDR representatives, follow up and support to the inter-governmental processes such as the ECOSOC, General Assembly and Commission for Sustainable Development, support to the inter-agency processes, including mainstreaming disaster risk reduction to the UN system through UNDG and HLCP, as well as advocacy and partnership building.