National Programme Officer (Prison Reform and Criminal Justice)

Location : Dakar, SENEGAL
Application Deadline :28-Jun-21 (Midnight New York, USA)
Additional Category :Management
Type of Contract :FTA Local
Post Level :NO-C
Languages Required :
English   French  
Starting Date :
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start)
Duration of Initial Contract :1 year renewable, subject to satisfactory performance and funding
Expected Duration of Assignment :1 year renewable, subject to satisfactory performance and funding

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.


UNODC acts as the custodian of the international standards and norms in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice, including those specifically designed for the management of prison facilities and the treatment of prisoners, in particular the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules).

The practical application of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) enables countries to strengthen prison management with a view to ensure the secure, safe and humane custody of prisoners. To fully address the challenges resulting from the global prison crisis, however, equal attention and investment must be given to:

  • Crime prevention, focusing in particular on persons at risk; Criminal policy reform to reduce over-incarceration, to promote the effective use of non-custodial sanctions, including evidence-based treatment and alternatives for drug- related offences; and strengthen access to legal aid
  • Rehabilitation and social reintegration programmes for prisoners during imprisonment and post-release support services upon release.

All of the above forms the core of UNODC's strategy to respond to global prison challenges and needs to be implemented in a coordinated manner in order to reach a sustainable and sustainable response to the current prison crisis in many Member States.

Under the overall supervision of the Regional Representative of the UNODC Regional Office for West and Central Africa (ROSEN), the direct supervision of the Head of the Justice Section (ROSEN) and the guidance of the Sahel Programme Regional Coordinator , the National Project Officer in Prison Reform and Criminal Justice will support the coordination of the regional, subregional and country prison reform programmes and contribute to the criminal justice programme planning, coordination and execution of ROSEN. 

Duties and Responsibilities

The National Programme Officer in Prison Reform and Criminal Justice will provide substantive, organizational and coordination support for implementing the mandate of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in the area of prison reform, access to justice of detainees, human rights in prison, network of penitentiary administrations, especially in the Sahel region. The main focus of work will be to strengthen the delivery of UNODC’s technical assistance in the area of prison reform, including:

  • the integration and implementation of human rights law and international standards and norms in the field prison reform, in particular the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules), the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-Custodial Measures (the Tokyo Rules), and the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems
  • and the strengthening of the capacity of prison system actors, national criminal justice entities and NGO’s working in the field of prison reform.

The National Project Officer in Prison Reform and Criminal Justice will participate in the planning, coordination and monitoring of regional and national criminal justice programmes, as well as the supervision of national criminal justice and crime prevention policies and strategies within the framework of the UNODC Regional Office for for West and Central Africa. He/she will participate in the identification and prioritization of strategic areas of intervention for UNODC in the region. The incumbent will take part in analytical work on the impact of the implementation of the Criminal Justice Programme and will ensure that its execution is carried out in an effective manner in accordance with UNODC operational policy guidelines.

In particular, the Criminal Justice Officer will perform the following tasks:

1.  Contribute to the formulation and development of the strategic direction of UNODC's prison reform and criminal justice programmes by focusing on the achievement of the following results:

- Analysis of the political, legal, social and economic situation of countries in relation to the areas concerned.

  • Identifying strategic programme areas for cooperation.
  • Operationalizing UNODC’s Prison Reform and Criminal Justice Programme, in collaboration with key partners and other UN agencies.
  • Fostering partnerships with United Nations, other relevant agencies and organizations as well as donors

Participating in consultations with partners on penal reform, preparing and making presentations on these subjects; facilitating liaison and developing synergies.

  • Analysing and present UNODC's prison reform and criminal justice policies corresponding to the UNODC Regional Programme for the Sahel, as well as the Regional Programme for Central Africa, currently under development.
  • Designing and formulating the ROSEN Prison Reform and Criminal Justice Programme by translating UNODC priorities into local interventions.
  • Coordinating the implementation of the Programme with the executing agencies.
  • Monitoring at the strategic level the planning, budgeting and implementation of the Programme.
  • Monitoring and measuring the impact of the ROSEN Prison Reform and Criminal Justice Programme.
  • Preparing regular reports on the activities, effects and results of the Programme.
  • Responding to ad-hoc communication with donors, including drafting regular reports in compliance with guidelines provided by the donors.

2. Contribute to the provision of advisory services, facilitation of knowledge building and management by focusing on the achievement of the following results:

Supporting the facilitation of knowledge exchange on promising practices in prison management and criminal justice as part of UNODC’s Regional Programme for West Africa, including conceptualizing, organizing, and servicing workshops and conferences to this effect

-       Coordinating the development of policies and institutions that will address national problems and needs in collaboration with the Government(s) and other strategic partners.

-    Establishing national advocacy networks and link them to international networks

-  Conducting high-impact advocacy campaigns with key partners.

-     Supporting capacity building processes of governmental and non-governmental institutions in the field of prison reform and criminal justice.

3. Undertake any other tasks as required.


  • Professionalism:

Knowledge of concepts, policies, laws and practices in prison reform and criminal justice matters as well as the mandates of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in crime prevention and criminal justice; familiarity with the concepts as applied to the West and Central African context;

Knowledge of and specialization in substantive and functional areas regarding prison reform and the legal and criminal justice aspects of organized crime.

Ability to identify and contribute to the solution of problems/issues.

Good research and analytical skills, with knowledge of various research methodologies and sources, including electronic sources on the internet, intranet and other databases.

Shows pride in work and in 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.

  • Client Orientation:

Establishes and maintains productive partnerships with all relevant stakeholders in West and Central Africa, especially with Sahel States, identifies clearly their needs to develop and implement legal, policy and other responses. Ensures continuous dialogue with the stakeholders monitoring the relevant developments and undertaking the necessary adjustments; meets timeline for delivery of technical assistance and other services and products.

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.

  • Planning and organizing:

Ability to develop clear objectives in accordance with agreed upon strategies; to identify tasks and activities that have to be dealt with as a matter of priority; to adjust priorities if required; to allocate appropriate time and resources to completing tasks; to anticipate risks and to adopt corrective measures in the course of planning and executing activities; to use time in an effective manner.

Required Skills and Experience


Advanced University degree (Master’s degree) in law/criminal justice, preferably with specialization in international law or criminal law is required. A First Level University Degree (Bachelor) in similar fields in combination with 6 years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advance university degree.


At least seven years of progressively responsible experience in crime prevention and criminal justice is required.

At least four years of experience providing technical assistance or project management support for strengthening corrections systems in a transitional, developmental, or post-conflict setting is required.

Experience providing services in the field of corrections system to or in a field operation of the United Nations Common System or a comparable international organization is desirable.

Relevant working experience in the Sahel is desirable.

Good knowledge of organized crime and criminal justice issues is required;

experience as lawyer, magistrate or corrections officer is desirable.


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For the position advertised fluency in French, i.e. oral and written proficiency, with excellent document drafting skills, is required. Knowledge of English is required. Knowledge of Arabic is desirable. 

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