Internship in Humanitarian Affairs

Location : Panama city
Application Deadline :21-Aug-18 (Midnight New York, USA)
Type of Contract :Internship
Post Level :Intern
Languages Required :
Duration of Initial Contract :3 months with a possibility of extension to 6 months


Organitazional Setting and Reporting:  The United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is the UN Secretariat Department responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to complex emergencies and natural disasters. OCHA also ensures that there is a framework within which each actor can contribute to the overall response effort.

The United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is the UN Secretariat department responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to complex emergencies and natural disasters. OCHA also ensures that there is a framework within which each actor can contribute to the overall response effort. This job opening announcement broadcasts multiple internship opportunities situated within OCHA-Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC) branches. The intern, under the general guidance and supervision of a Panama-based supervisor, shall be assigned within the Operations and Advocacy Division (OAD).

This internship will be based in Panama City, Panama and the intern will be under the general and direct supervision of a Humanitarian Affairs Officer. The internship is being offered fro a period of three (3) months with a possibility of extension up to a maximum period of six (6) months.

Duties and Responsibilities

The intern will support OCHA in fulfilling its mission to coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors; advocate the rights of people in need; promote preparedness and prevention and facilitate sustainable solutions.  In general, the intern shall support OCHA in fulfilling mandated activities and projects in the respective area of assignment.  Daily responsibilities will depend on the individual´s background and duties may include but are not limited to assisting with the design and preparation of studies on humanitarian, disaster emergency relief and other related issues and in various follow-up activities; researching, analyzing and presenting information gathered from diverse sources on assigned topics/issues; assisting with the preparation of various written documents, e.g. drafts sections of studies, background papers, policy guidelines, etc.; assisting with the maintenance of reference/resource information on specific topics or policy-related issues; assisting in the organization of meetings, seminars, conferences, work-shops, etc., and serves as note-taker to such events; maintains awareness of current humanitarian affairs and related issues, to include relevant political, policy, gender considerations or other developments in specific subject area and/or country or region concerned and; performs other tasks requested by supervisor, as appropriate.

In addition to the general responsibilities outlined above, the intern shall be given specific tasks related to the branch/ division of assignment. As OCHA's operational hub, the Coordination and Response division (CRD) oversees the management of all field offices and provides operational support to Resident Coordinators/ Humanitarian Coordinators (RCs/ HCs), OCHA country and Humanitarian Country Teams (HCTs) in the Latin American region. CRD is also responsible for coordinating all country-level humanitarian strategies and emergency responses, and is the working-level inter-face with affected Member States, partner humanitarian organizations, UN Secretariat departments and donors on operational issues.
The intern shall support with the creation and/ or maintenance of databases for humanitarian field activities by conducting research through relevant websites, OCHA disaster and complex emergency files, and situation reports; assist in contacting external partners in order to update existing contact database; assist with the maintanence of the information necessary to update the Humanitarian Map for the region; assist with the preparation of briefing notes on disasters and the activities of the Section; assist with updating access and security-related information; support with copying, compiling records and filing of current emergencies records; assist in the preparation of meetings, background documentation, notes and summary record.
The intern shall participate in the organization of retreats, workshops and other learning events for RCs/HCs and inter-agency meetings on humanitarian leadership as well as assist in the drafting of documents and analysis on key leadership related matters.
In particular, the intern shall provide assistance in connection with OCHA's coordination and collaboration with humanitarian institutions in the Latin American region.


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. 

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. 

Teamwork: works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve organizational goals; solicits input by genuinely valuing others’ ideas and expertise; is willing to learn from others; places team agenda before personal agenda; supports and acts in accordance with final group decision, even when such decisions may not entirely reflect own position; shares credit for team accomplishments and accepts joint responsibility for team shortcomings.

Required Skills and Experience


To qualify for an internship with the UN Insternship Programme, applicants must meet one of the following requeriments:

  • Be enrolled in a graduate school programme (e.g. second university degree or equivalent or higher).
  • Be enrolled in the final academic year of a first university degree programme (e.g. minimum Bachelor´s level or equivalent, and
  • Have graduated with a university degree and, if selected, must start the internship within one-year period of graduation from an academic programme.
  • Applicants who are unable to start the internship within one-year period of graduation date shall not be accepted.
  • The university degree must be in the area of political science, social science, international studies, public administration, economics or in a related field.

Work Experience:

Applicants are not required to have professional working experience to participate in the internship programme though any academic and/or practical experience in humanitarian affairs issues including humanitarian coordination, humanitarian financing mechanisms, humanitarian funding trends, gender equality programming, emergency preparedness, crisis/emergency relief management, rehabilitation, development and/or human rights is desirable.  Applicants should be computer literate in standard software applications; have a demonstrated keen interest in the work of the United Nations, a personal commitment to the ideals of the Charter and have a demonstrated ability to successfully interact with individuals of different cultural backgrounds and beliefs which includes willingness to understand and be tolerant of differing opinions and views.


English and French are the working languages of the UN Secretariat. For this internship fluency in Spanish (both oral and written) is required. Knowledge of the others are an asset. English and French in particular would be an advantage.

Assessment method: 

The application must contain:

  • A cover letter that must include:
    • Title of degree you are currently pursuing;
    • Graduation date (when will you be graduating from the programme);
    • IT skills and programmes in which you are proficient;
    • Explanation why you are the best candidate for the internship position.
  • An updated resume;
  • Three (3) references. 

Please group all your documents into one single PDF document as the system only allows to upload maximum one document.

Candidates who are selected must submit prior to the interview:

  • Official documents confirming your education status.
  • Proof of medical and life/accident insurance valid for the location in which the internship will be carried out.

Special Notice:

  • Applicants are encouraged to apply for internships which relate directly to their studies and/or skills and expertise.  Applicants are asked to please indicate preferences which best match her/his suitability in order to enhance the value of the internship.
  • A person who is the child o sibling of a staff member shall not be eligible to apply for an internship.
  • Internship provides a framework by which students from diverse academic backgrounds gain exposure to the work of the UN system. The internship programme endeavors to attract qualified students offering them an oportunity to enrich his/her educational experience.
  • The intern must adhere to the established official weekling working hours of the duty station.

Financial issues:

  • Internships within the UN system are unpaid and subjet to conditions the applicant must get familiar with prior to signing his/her internship agreement; 
  • Costs and arrangement for travel, visas, accomodations and living expenses are responsibility of the intern or the nominating institution which may provide the required financial assistance to its students;
  • The intern will need to provide proof of health and life/accident insurance. No responsabilities for costs arising from accidents and/or illness or death incurring during the internship;
  • The intern is not eligible to apply for or be appointed to any post in any UN agency during the period of the internship;
  • The intern is not staff and may not represent any UN agency in any official capacity.


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.

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