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Government Liaison Officer


  • Organization: UNHCR - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Location: Tallinn
  • Grade: Level not specified - Level not specified
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Political Affairs
    • Democratic Governance
    • External Relations, Partnerships and Resource mobilization
  • Closing Date: Closed

Hardship Level

U (unclassified)

Family Type


Family Type


Residential location (if applicable)



Staff Member / Affiliate Type

National Professional Officer


Regular > Regular Assignment

Remote work accepted


Target Start Date


Job Posting End Date

October 19, 2023

Standard Job Description

Government Liaison Officer Organizational Setting and Work Relationships The Government Liaison Officer is usually located in country operations. S/he plays a crucial role in ensuring UNHCR's approach to the Government is consistent, strategic and coherent. The main aim is to ensure that UNHCR can fulfil its role to support the Government to lead the refugee response ensuring the protection of refugees and - in line with the GCR - promote the inclusion of refugees into national systems by coordinating with other actors - including development actors at the early stages of a refugee response and in mixed situations supporting the Government to prevent, respond to and resolve internal displacement while complementing and reinforcing national response efforts. This should be done in line with UNHCRs Mandate, the Global Compact for Refugees, the IDP policy, and agreed inter-agency commitments. More specifically, the incumbent advises the senior management on issues and processes concerning the relationship with the Government and related positioning, coordination, advocacy, information, resource allocation, fundraising, reporting, and communication with other UN agencies, NGOs, civil society actors, private sector, media and other relevant actors through strong engagement in humanitarian inter-agency processes, but also with a focus on development processes as they impact on UNHCR. This requires strong engagement in Government processes, and knowledge and interaction with national entities and processes. The Government Liaison Officer assists senior management with ensuring the Government is aware of the humanitarian architecture and can act in line with ongoing development processes related to the UNDS reform and the 2030 agenda as they impact on UNHCR. The overall goal of the position is to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of UNHCR¿s leadership roles and responses to situations affecting people of concern to UNHCR (refugees, asylum-seekers, IDPs, stateless persons, returnees, host communities) through an open and transparent partnership approach with the Government. All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core, functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR's core values of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity. Duties - Advise and assist senior managers to formulate and communicate UNHCR positions on Government-related matters on protection, assistance and inclusion of refugees, providing briefing notes, talking points and issue papers for relevant discussions with the Government. - Promote UNHCR's policies and liaise with Government authorities on issues related to latest humanitarian and development processes. - Establish and coordinate country-specific coordination mechanisms for situations co-led by UNHCR and the Government. Where applicable, support the development of country-specific refugee response plans (or refugee and migration response plan and refugee and resilience plan) and comprehensive responses. - Contribute to ensuring the coherence of the work of the Multi-sector group (MSG) in accordance with the Government. - Provide protection for persons of concern to UNHCR by ensuring the observance by the local authorities of the recognized principles of refugee law. - Promote accession to refugee law convention in a way that reinforce the asylum institution in the country. - Articulate UNHCR¿s priorities towards the Government, including the commitment to humanitarian principles. - With support from senior management, promote the deeper understanding within UNHCR on agreements with the Government and inform other staff on developments with the Government. This includes promoting and stimulating UNHCR's implementation of key reforms with the Government; - Where there is lack of clarity as to UNHCR's positions and priorities, identify the issues and bring this to senior management attention. - Assist the Government to ensure timely preparedness activities, including through participation and where necessary coordination of inter-agency contingency planning processes. - Liaise with the Government, inter-government agencies, UN agencies, local and international NGOs and other partners at the country level to find areas of cooperation, joint initiatives and where applicable negotiate joint agreements or work programmes to further protection and assistance for persons of concern. - Organise and implement capacity-building seminars or training programmes for target groups (government officials, etc.). - Maintain close relations with the press and develop public information activities to ensure greater knowledge in public opinion of refugee and asylum issues and promote UNHCR objectives. - Maintain close contact with HQ on emerging issues. - Maintain frequent formal and informal contacts with counterparts in other organisations. - Perform other related duties as required. Minimum Qualifications Years of Experience / Degree Level For P3/NOC - 6 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 5 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 4 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree Field(s) of Education Political/Social Science; Economics; Law/International Law; Business Administration; or other relevant field. (Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk* are essential) Certificates and/or Licenses Not specified. Relevant Job Experience Essential: Experience of working with partners at field or Headquarters level. Experience of liaising with governments and/or the donor community. Thorough understanding of UNHCR's protection mandate and core mission. Thorough understanding of humanitarian coordination processes and/or development coordination. Desirable: Inter-agency coordination role. Drafting joint appeal/ refugee response plan/HRP. Experience with another UN agency or partner. Functional Skills CO-Drafting and Documentation CL-Multi-stakeholder Communications with Partners, Government & Community SO-Networking TR-Training and Capacity Building of Governments and/or national programs (Functional Skills marked with an asterisk* are essential) Language Requirements For International Professional and Field Service jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English. For National Professional jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English and local language. For General Service jobs: Knowledge of English and/or UN working language of the duty station if not English. All UNHCR workforce members must individually and collectively, contribute towards a working environment where each person feels safe, and empowered to perform their duties. This includes by demonstrating no tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, harassment including sexual harassment, sexism, gender inequality, discrimination and abuse of power. As individuals and as managers, all must be proactive in preventing and responding to inappropriate conduct, support ongoing dialogue on these matters and speaking up and seeking guidance and support from relevant UNHCR resources when these issues arise. This is a Standard Job Description for all UNHCR jobs with this job title and grade level. The Operational Context may contain additional essential and/or desirable qualifications relating to the specific operation and/or position. Any such requirements are incorporated by reference in this Job Description and will be considered for the screening, shortlisting and selection of candidates.

Desired Candidate Profile

See following.

Required languages (expected Overall ability is at least B2 level):



Desired languages



Operational context

Occupational Safety and Health Considerations:

Nature of Position:

UNHCR in Estonia has a small presence in Tallinn, and works closely with Government authorities, civil society – including a number of partner organizations – as well as other relevant stakeholders to promote the rights and well-being of refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons. The UNHCR office in Estonia reports to UNHCR's Representation for the Nordic and Baltic countries, which is based in Stockholm, Sweden.

Estonia used to receive a relatively modest number of asylum applications each year. Since February 2022, Estonia has received a high number of refugees from Ukraine, amounting to more than 3% of Estonia’s population. As of August 2023, more than 31,000 holders of temporary protection have registered their place of residence in Estonia. Further, more than 5,000 Ukrainians have received subsidiary protection. Most refugees from Ukraine are women and children. From the outset of the war in Ukraine, the Estonian Government and civil society have responded with steadfast solidarity towards refugees from Ukraine, including by providing access to employment and public services. Challenges facing refugees from Ukraine include access to suitable accommodation, access to decent work for women, and access to medical support.

Following the large increase in the number of refugees due to the full-scale war in Ukraine, UNHCR stepped up its response and operations in Estonia. As of 2023, Estonia is included in the Refugee Response Plan for the Ukraine Refugee Situation, complementing the government-led response. The plan is coordinated by UNHCR and has been developed by 14 humanitarian organisations in Estonia.

In addition to refugees from Ukraine, Estonia also hosts refugees from other countries, such as Syria, Afghanistan, Russia and Iraq. Further, Estonia is making efforts to enhance the inclusion of stateless persons (referred to by Estonian authorities as “persons with undetermined citizenship”, of whom there are approximately 70,000 in the country), including by offering citizenship agreements with free language courses. Estonia has not acceded to the Statelessness Conventions and does not have a statelessness determination procedure.

The Government Liaison officer will function as UNHCR's primary interlocutor in Estonia for government counterparts, civil society and other stakeholders. Moreover, the Government Liaison Officer is tasked with the day-to-day management of UNHCR’s office in Estonia, including the supervision of other staff in the office. The Government Liaison Officer, with support from UNHCR's office in Stockholm, will monitor and contribute towards the implementation of UNHCR's operations in Estonia. The Government Liaison Officer is UNHCR's primary interlocutor for NGO partners who play a role in the implementation of UNHCR's programmes. Further, the Government Liaison officer, in close coordination with the inter-agency coordinator, plays an important role in supporting the inter-agency coordination efforts in the context of the RRP for the Ukraine refugee situation. Finally, where appropriate, the Government Liaison Officer may support UNHCR’s engagement with media.

Living and Working Conditions:


Additional Qualifications


CL-Multi-stakeholder Communications with Partners, Government & Community, CO-Drafting and Documentation, SO-Networking, TR-Training and Capacity Building of Governments and/or national programs


Bachelor of Arts (BA): Business Administration (Required), Bachelor of Arts (BA): Economics (Required), Bachelor of Arts (BA): Law (Required), Bachelor of Arts (BA): Political Science (Required)


Work Experience


Accountability, Client & results orientation, Commitment to continuous learning, Communication, Empowering & building trust, Judgement & decision making, Managing performance, Managing resource, Negotiation & conflict resolution, Organizational awareness, Political awareness, Stakeholder management, Teamwork & collaboration

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Additional Information

Functional clearance

This position doesn't require a functional clearance
This vacancy is now closed.
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