International Specialist (Regional Cooperation)

Location : Home Based-With 2 visits to Kabul
Application Deadline :31-Jul-21 (Midnight New York, USA)
Type of Contract :IPSA (Short-Term)
Post Level :IPSA-11
Languages Required :
Duration of Initial Contract :100 working days within 12 months

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

UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.


Instructions to Applicants: Click on the "Apply now" button. Input your information in the appropriate Sections: personal information, language proficiency, education, resume and motivation. Upon completion of the first page, please hit "submit application" tab at the end of the page. Please ensure that CV or P11 and the Cover letter are combined in one file.

  1. Personal CV or P11, indicating all past positions held and their main underlying functions, their durations (month/year), the qualifications, as well as the contact details (email and telephone number) of the Candidate, and at least three (3) the most recent professional references of previous supervisors. References may also include peers.
  2. A cover letter (maximum length: 1 page) indicating why the candidate considers him-/herself to be suitable for the position.
  3. Three writing samples.


  1. UNDP will cover the cost of travel of the individual to the duty station, as well as their return to their home upon completion of their services.
  2. The Specialist will cover the cost of visa and work permit that UNDP will facilitate

Office/Unit/Project Description

Countries without direct coastal access to the sea and to maritime trade face many challenges from the outset that limit their potential gains from trade in this globalized world compared to their coastal neighboring countries. The Human Development Index is a stark indication of the challenges of poverty and inadequate growth the landlocked countries face. 10 out of the 32 countries with the lowest HDI scores are landlocked. In today’s competitive world, it is an understatement, to say the least, that landlocked countries generally face a difficult situation. Although being landlocked is a challenge, it is not destiny. Afghanistan – a landlocked, underdeveloped country – is taking practical steps to turn the liability of being a landlocked country into an advantage for itself as well as for Central and South-East Asia.  

Afghanistan is one of 48 non-coastal counties in the world. It is surrounded by six countries: Iran in the west, Pakistan on the southeast, and Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and China in the north. The two closest sea ports to Afghanistan are Karachi port in Pakistan, which is 1,406 kilometers away from Kabul, and Iran’s Chabahar, which is farther away — about 1,840 kilometers from Kabul. Pakistan and Iran are the top two sources of import for Afghanistan. Afghanistan not only faces the challenge of distance but also the challenges that result from dependence on a sovereign transit country, through which trade from Afghanistan must pass to access international shipping markets. 

Infrastructure remains a critical constraint for Afghanistan. While significant infrastructure investments and improvements have been achieved since 2002, there are still major gaps constraining sustainable growth due to poor transport, energy and communications connectivity; barriers to regional market integration; incomplete policy and regulatory reforms; institutional capacity and human skill constraints; ongoing security conflicts; and limited operations and maintenance funding for existing infrastructure. Afghan Government’s fundamental strategy is to improve infrastructure investment efficiency.

Infrastructure investments into an integrated transport, energy and communications networks are focused on facilitating the country’s economic growth and development through expanding access to domestic, regional, and international markets and social services; increasing employment; and spurring trade, transit, and logistics. This will involve rail linkages and road investments, operations and maintenance programs; urban transport; civil aviation; energy and communications investments; trade facilitation; dry ports; and transport logistics. In addition, the infrastructure plan outlines a roadmap for regional connectivity with efficient infrastructure delivery that creates jobs and connects goods to markets in Afghanistan and the region. This regional connectivity can only be achieved through improved transport systems, freight, and logistics supply chains; energy supply; and high-speed telecommunications accross Afghanistan and throughout the region.

Given the enormous geopolitical shift in the region, Afghanistan is in a unique position to activate and utilize its geographic dividends and serve as the regional hub connecting Central Asia and South Asia, as well as the entire region to Europe. Projects such as Lapis Lazuli Corridor, TAPI & CASA 1000 demonstrate the needs and priorities of Afghanistan and the region in 21st century.

At the same time, Afghanistan has made commendable progress on the 2030 Agenda. The country has landed and nationalized the global SDGs, established an institutional structure, aligned the SDGs with national development plans and policies, and prioritized the most relevant SDG targets in Afghanistan. UNDP held a roundtable discussion with the Government of Afghanistan to accelerate its policy and technical support to the Afghanistan SDGs. A significant part of this package of support is the transfer of an integrated modeling platforms and the required capacity to use them for policy analysis, evidence-based decision-making and macroeconomic prudence in Afghanistan.

An economy-wide and SDG-based modelling platform, the Afghanistan Global Trade Analysis Project (A-GTAP) model has been developed to help the Government of Afghanistan and its development partners to assess policy options for regional trade, integration and access to market, particularly conducting sectoral competitiveness assessments. Initially, much of the work on the regional iteration of the CGE model focused on addressing the data requirement for the regional CGE model, including the building of the Social Accounting Matrix (SAM), the development of the CGE model, and inclusion of Afghanistan’s datasets and SAM into the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) to allow for key analyses and assessments on unleashing Afghanistan’s potential for regional economic integration through trade and transit. Therefore, further work is required to conduct advanced economy-wide analysis, assessments and regional consensus building using the Afghanistan GTAP, including the development and implementation of comprehensive training programme for key government stakeholders.

The onset of COVID-19, however, required that the specialist be engaged to help the Government of Afghanistan assess the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 through deploying the recently built regional CGE model and conducting key simulations and communicating their results effectively with an eye toward meeting the policy-level needs of the government of Afghanistan. The specialist could not fully transfer Afghanistan GTAP model and contribute to the requisite capacity-building as planned initially primarily because of the COVID-19 related restrictions. Therefore, the international specialist will, in addition to full transfer of the model, conduct key assessments on regional trade, integration, access to market and on a wide range of trade policies, including assessing sub-sectors, such as agricultural value chains, for their competitiveness in regional and global markets.

Institutional Arrangement:

The international specialist will work under the overall supervision of the UNDP Resident Representative for Afghanistan and Senior Deputy Resident Representative for Program, and UNDP Offices in regional capitals as and when needed. The international specialist shall liaise with Ministries of Finance, Economy, Trade and Industry, development and planning institutions, Transport, Communication, Energy and relevant institutions and specialised agencies in the country and the region to fulfil his/her task. 

The international specialist shall have access to UNDP reports and data bases and shall coordinate with UNDP local experts and staff, as needed. The international specialist shall have a direct reporting line to the Assistant Resident Representative- Head of Prosperity Portfolio, and shall work in close collaboration with the UNDP Policy Lab and SDG Integration Portfolio, as well as other units within the UNDP Country Office.

The CO will provide office space and internet facility, logistical and other support service, including transport and security applicable to UNDP international personnel. The international specialist is however expected to bring his/her own laptop and mobile phone and meet local communications costs (CO Administration Unit will provide a local pre-paid SIM card). Costs to arrange meetings, workshops, travel costs to and DSA during field visits (if any), etc. shall be covered by the same source of funding as that for the assignment.

Duties and Responsibilities

As Afghanistan continues to grapple with the impact of COVID-19, and now that some of the procedural issues around intra-Afghan peace talks are (progressively addressed) resolved, the government has  pushed for expanding the economy-wide analyses and assessments, in which the international specialist will be extensively engaged, to include key projections and scenarios on government’s response to and recovery from the COVID-19, regional integration and trade facilitation (with broad regional perspectives in north-south, as well as east-west directions) —including assessing options for lowering non-tariff barriers and standardizing procedures (and harmonizing national legislations of regional states) allowing Afghanistan to tap into the full potential of global and regional VCs. The simulations and analytical work, as reflected in the following scope of work for this assignment, are linked to and builds on UNDP’s previous work on Afghanistan and will draw upon the analytical work already done on economic modeling and the Afghanistan GTAP.

Under this assignment, the international specialist will help UNDP, the Government of Afghanistan (and neighboring countries) in assessing the political economy of regional cooperation for Afghanistan and the politics of trade opportunities for the country. The specialist will also invest some time in conducting field visits to Afghanistan (Kabul and border provinces), along with regional capitals and major trade crossings), to collect the information needed with special focus on interconnectivity of trade infrastructure (energy, transport and communication). The international specialist work shall focus on enhancing the harmonization of national regulations and practices in the region to secure interoperabulity of borders, customs- with a view to enhancing the regional network of free trade and promotion of infrastructure interconnectivity as well as addressing the government’s needs related to responding to the exigencies of a post-peace scenario and the shifts in the political economy of Afghanistan.

  1. Conduct high level consultations with government executives and specialized agencies i.a. trade chambers etc) in Afghanistan and regional capitals and carry out advanced analysis of the political economy of regional cooperation for Afghanistan, the politics of trade opportunities, and assessments on Afghanistan’s options for regional trade and greater regional integration.
  2. Building on UNDP’s data bases, earlier research and in-house technical facilities and staff experience to include designing and implementation support of trade promotion policies, incentives and capacity building programs towards effective regional and global trade partnership. Also, to conduct survey and assess competitiveness of strategic subsectors, such as agricultural value chains, for facilitating access to markets through addressing systemic and economy-wide challenges.  
  3. Deploy and use the Afghanistan GTAP model for extensive analysis of Afghanistan’s options for regional interconnectivity including and multi-lateral trade agreements, in addition to thorough assessments of national legislations in the region to enhance the regional network of free trade and promotion of infrastructure interconnectivity, and various policies for regulating regional trade and access to Afghanistan’s and region’s markets.
  4. Conduct at least two national assessments on interconnectivity of trade infrastructure with focus on energy, transport and communication, and “market-building” as one of the key outcomes of ANPDF-II for assessing Afghanistan’s options for economic growth through trade, access to markets and value chain assessments with an eye toward economic growth and job creation.
  5. Design and launch a national capacity building and training programs (including workshops, seminars and high-level conferences in consultation with Kabul and regional capitals), for UNDP Team and key stakeholders on the advanced use of the updated version of the GTAP model to enhance regional cooperation and free trade options in the country and the region,
  6. Provide policy recommendations on affective interpretation of Afghanistan GTAP modelling results and communicate them effectively through generating at least 3 policy notes to UNDP programmes to inform future development programming in Afghanistan.
  7. Provide support to UNDP ongoing projects/proposals relevant to regional cooperation, and produce policy and knowledge products /reports on each of the five items mentioned above.



Professionalism: Shows pride in work and achievements; demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter; is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; is motivated by professional rather than personal concerns; shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remains calm in stressful situations. Takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work.

Communication:Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; 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 the audience; Demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed.

Client Orientation: Considers all those to whom services are provided to be "clients " and seeks to see things from clients' point of view; Establishes and maintains productive partnerships with clients by gaining their trust and respect; Identifies clients' needs and matches them to appropriate solutions; Monitors ongoing developments inside and outside the clients' environment to keep informed and anticipate problems; Keeps clients informed of progress or setbacks in projects; Meets timeline for delivery of products or services to client.

Required Skills and Experience


Min. Academic Education

  • Master’s  degree in economics, political science, trade, politics economy, or development economics.

Min. years of relevant Work experience

  • Minimum 7 years of progressive experience focusing on macroeconomic analysis and forecasting, especially hands-on experience developing economic models,
  • Sufficient knowledge of regional and international trade practices, political economy, and development economics.
  • Excellent report writing and organizational skills, advanced economic analysis skills using econometric and integrated models,
  • Knowledge and experience with UNDP or UNDP administered agencies is desirable,
  • Knowledge and experience of UNDP Afghanistan an added advantage.

Desired additional skills and competencies

  • Diplomatic experience, ability to conduct dialogue and negotiations with high level government and specialized agency executives;
  • Minimum 10 years ‘experience in international relations and diplomacy (bilateral and multilateral)
  • Familiarity with Afghanistan's neighbors (Iran, Pakistan, Central Asian Republics & China)
  • Focus on impact and result for the host country and target stakeholders and ability to respond positively to requirements by national authorities;
  • Cultural affinity and in depth knowledge of the regional dynamics in the area;
  • Knowledge of state protocol
  • Ability to have access and influence over political, cultural, local leaderships within and outside the sphere of government
  • Ability to approach work with energy and a positive, constructive attitude beyond existing boundaries;
  • Ability to work collaboratively with and build consensus among counterparts in a multi-cultural and multiethnic environment.
  • Ability to conduct required research, analyze and produce proposals and reports;
  • Analytical aptitude, communication, writing and presentation skills;
  • In-depth knowledge of history and politics of the region, development issues;
  • Ability to advocate and provide policy advice;

Required Language(s) (at working level)

  • Fluency in written and spoken English is a requirement.
  • At least verbal comprehension of at least one of Afghanistan's official languages Dari and Pashto
  • Excellent writing skills required, as demonstrated by previous research/analytical reports/policy notes on relevant topics.

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