United Nations Mission Internships
The Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva and Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament normally offers the opportunity for Australians to undertake four to five month internships. Interns will primarily work on human rights and disarmament issues (including attending the Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review and Conference on Disarmament). You may also have the opportunity to work on other issues covering health, humanitarian and the work of UN specialised agencies as well as to contribute to corporate activities.
Regrettably, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian UN Mission in Geneva will not be offering internships at this time. We will advise when we are holding internships going forward when the situation allows it. Information will be posted on this page and the Mission’s twitter page at @AustraliaUN_GVA
What is the role?
The Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva is responsible for representing Australia’s interests in the United Nations system. The work can be rigorous and diverse, requiring flexibility, clear thinking, good communication skills and a sound understanding of diplomacy and the international political landscape. The environment is complex and demanding, but the work is hands-on and can be highly rewarding.
Under the guidance of experienced officers, interns are involved in supporting and advancing Australia’s interests at the international level in a wide range of areas. Interns will develop a thorough understanding of government policy, particularly as it relates to the area of work to which they are assigned. Interns may be required to represent the Australian Government in a formal capacity – for example, by assisting with negotiations of texts and resolutions and attending committees and meetings. You will be note-taking, performing administrative and research tasks and a range of other tasks as required.
You will work primarily on human rights and disarmament issues (see further description below) but may also have the opportunity to work on other issues including health, humanitarian and UN specialised agencies as well as to contribute to corporate activities. You will have the opportunity to attend some sessions of the regular meetings on the UN calendar, which include the Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review and Conference on Disarmament.
The Human Rights Council
Much of the work of the Australian Mission revolves around preparing for, attending and reporting on, conferences and meetings at the UN. The significant expansion of Australia’s participation in the UN means that meeting activity is fairly constant throughout the year. However, the Human Rights Council and Universal Periodic Review sessions are the pivotal points of the United Nations human rights calendar in Geneva. From 2018-20, interns will have the opportunity to work on Australia’s Human Rights Council membership term.
During these periods, interns will attend several formal and informal meetings a day. The daily meetings generally take place from 9.00am to 6.00pm but working groups and side panels also occur at different times throughout the session. Be prepared for a busy schedule and working days that will often extend beyond these set times.
As much as possible, the Mission will take into consideration the particular interests of interns when allocating tasks and meeting attendances.
Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament
The Australian Permanent Mission and the Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament is responsible for representing Australia’s interests in the United Nations disarmament and arms control system in Geneva. The work is rigorous and diverse, requiring flexibility, clear thinking and a fundamental understanding of diplomatic principles. The environment is complex and demanding but the work is highly rewarding.
Geneva has long been a global centre for disarmament and arms control. The Conference on Disarmament is the principal negotiating forum for disarmament treaties and meets in Geneva for 24 weeks a year. Australia will hold the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament for four weeks in 2020.
A number of arms treaties have their secretariats and principal meetings in Geneva, including the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (MBC), and the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). The Australian Permanent Mission in Geneva is active in meetings and processes on the Arms Trade Treaty, small arms and light weapons, armed violence, and other humanitarian disarmament issues.
Who we look for.
The Mission seeks people with the skills, education, knowledge and abilities to contribute to advancing Australia's national interests in the UN. Applicants should possess relevant qualifications and background, with preference being given to those who have recently completed, or are completing, tertiary studies in areas such as political science, international relations, international law, human rights, environment or international development, international security, defence studies or science and technology. Prior exposure to, or demonstrated knowledge of, the United Nations system is highly desirable.
The candidates we are looking for are:
- talented, highly motivated and committed to the goals of the Mission;
- good communicators with excellent oral and written communication skills;
- self motivated and innovative;
- strategic thinkers and practical problem-solvers;
- team players with good organisational skills;
- flexible, adaptable and resourceful;
- respectful, ethical and sensitive to, and appreciative of, diversity; and
- ability to work under pressure with limited guidance.
A second language is desirable but not essential. Many interns come into the Mission while continuing their university studies. Others have recently completed their studies, and join us from the workforce. If you graduated some time ago and have substantial work or internship experience, you may prefer to apply for positions advertised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.
Before lodging an application for a position, please ensure that you meet the minimum criteria for consideration listed below.
- be an Australian citizen (this is a mandatory requirement);
- possess relevant qualifications and background with preference being given to those who have completed, or are completing, tertiary studies in areas such as political science, international relations, international law, international security, defence studies, science and technology, human rights or international development;
- have prior exposure to, or demonstrated knowledge of, the United Nations system (highly desirable although not essential);
- have an interest in human rights, disarmament and/or the other areas of work covered by the Australian Mission, and be able to demonstrate this
- be willing to undergo a mandatory police check; and
- be willing to re-locate to Geneva for a period of up to five months, on a primarily self-funded basis, which includes arrangements and costs for travel, visa, accommodation, and health insurance.
Conduct and Ethics
The Mission demands the highest standards of professional conduct from its employees. Ethical conduct by staff and interns contributes significantly to the efficiency and effectiveness of the workplace and to the standing of the Mission and its employees in Australia and internationally.
In agreeing to participate in the Mission’s Internship Program and undertake duties as directed, interns are required to comply with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Locally Engaged Staff Code of Conduct, which takes account of the particular significance of the department's representational role outside Australia.
Interns will be provided a monthly stipend of CHF1250 to assist with living expenses in Geneva. Please note that the stipend is not a salary and it does not constitute an employee/employer relationship. Be prepared: the cost of living is high in Geneva.
Interns are responsible for their own arrangements and costs in relation to visa, travel, accommodation and health insurance.
The Mission will assist with organising a visa.
How to apply
To apply you will need to submit:
- your Resume/CV
- a written reference; and
- a document responding to the questionnaire below.
If you are a student, we particularly welcome applications that include a reference or letter of support from your University.
Cover letters are not required and any cover letters will not be considered as part of the application.
- All applications should be emailed to [email protected]. Please include the subject line "SURNAME, first name: Internship Application".
- Please note that you will receive acknowledgement via email of receipt of your application. This is not an automated process so the response will not be immediate.
- You will subsequently be notified by email of the outcome of the selection process (whether your application is successful or not).
Applicants are asked to complete the below internship questionnaire. Responses should be no more than 150 words in length per question. The questionnaire is designed to assess your suitability to perform the duties of the position including personal qualities, experience, skills and knowledge relevant to the work of an intern at the Mission.
1. Why are you applying for the Internship Program in the Australian Mission to the United Nations in Geneva?
2. What are your particular interests in the issues covered by the Australian Mission to the United Nations: human rights, disarmament, health and humanitarian affairs?
3. Briefly outline a recent achievement, project or task that demonstrates your analytical and research skills and your ability to think strategically.
4. Provide some examples of how you have used your written and oral communication skills to achieve an outcome, in the workplace, or elsewhere.
5. Please list any countries outside Australia in which you have lived during the past 10 years.
6. (Optional): Do you identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander?
7. (Optional): Do you identify as speaking English as your second language? Do you speak any languages other than English?
Short-listed candidates may be interviewed via phone. Successful candidates will be advised in writing (by email) after which they will need to undertake a probity check.
Requests for further information should be emailed to [email protected]