Working for international organisations

Updated 9 October 2015

0.1 What are international organisations?

These are inter-governmental organisations that take a global approach to tackling a wide range of issues, such as sustainable development, conflict, and climate change. The most well-known include the United Nations (UN), the World Bank and NATO.

0.2 Why do we want British nationals in these organisations?

The UK wants international organisations to have strong leadership structures that are able to shape effective and efficient organisations. We support merit-based recruitment to ensure that positions are filled by talented individuals. We want to see strong British candidates applying for, and taking up key roles within these organisations, to join the many already working there.

The government is keen to ensure British nationals with the right skills and experience are aware of the career opportunities international organisations offer. Building an accurate picture of interest and available talent will also help us to identify the best candidates for appointments. International organisations have their own recruitment websites where you can find information on the latest vacancies, the application process, remuneration packages and more on working for these organisations. Links to the websites of the following organisations can be found here: UN, UNDP, World Bank, IMF, Council of Europe, OSCE , the Commonwealth, the WTO and NATO. Appointments available in UN agencies, funds and programmes are available here. More information on what it is like to work at the UN can be found on the UN Association-UK’s website.

The government is also keen to increase the number of British nationals working in EU institutions. These are handled separately and for further information, consult our guidance on working for the EU institutions.

Most appointments are made by application directly to the recruiting organisation. The government cannot guarantee that an application will be successful, nor intervene in the recruitment process. However, we can point you in the right direction so that you can be well prepared going into the application process.

1. Senior appointments

Are you a senior manager with an ability to demonstrate a range and depth of experience in delivering outcomes in the international arena, and looking for a new challenge or to boost your multilateral credentials? Are you interested in developing an international career working at the cutting edge of international affairs? We are looking for a wide range of skills, including finance, human resources and programme management. In the case of the UN, you will need to have at least 15 years experience in your field of expertise, including at senior management level.

If you are interested in a career in International Organisations, please register your details and we will alert you to opportunities and information that may be relevant.

1.1 Why join?

A huge variety of openings exist where you can develop your skills and make a real difference to issues of international importance at the highest levels. By registering with us, you will become part of a concerted effort to match up talented Brits to upcoming international opportunities. For those candidates with suitable skills and experience, we will alert you to networking events and suitable job opportunities as they come up, and explain how you can register your interest directly with international organisations. The Senior International Appointments Team at the FCO will also draw upon this resource when targeting positions of key importance. However, we cannot guarantee that by registering with us, you will consequently find employment.

2. Opportunities for young professionals

2.1 The UN Junior Professional Officers Programme

The UK has recently resumed its support for the United Nation’s Junior Professional Officers (JPO) scheme. This programme offers young professionals interested in pursuing a career in international development an exceptional opportunity to acquire hands-on experience within the UN multilateral system.

The Department for International Development (DFID) is the government department coordinating the UK’s applicant process. Over the next 3 years, DFID will fund up to 22 placements across the UN.

Applications are welcome from suitably qualified individuals who:

  • are British Nationals
  • are under the age of 32 years (35 years for UNICEF JPO positions)
  • have completed a postgraduate degree in a development related field
  • have a minimum of 2 years paid work experience (preferably in a development related area)

JPOs will be recruited at the UN entry level for professionals (P1 and P2) and offered 1 year fixed term UN contracts which are normally renewed for a second year (2 years being the usual length of a placement), subject to satisfactory performance.

For more information about the JPO schemes, please click on the following links

UNDP JPO Service Centre

UN DESA and UN Secretariat Departments



2.2 Current vacancies - JPO positions supported by the UK will be advertised over the coming months.

2.3 Young Professionals Programme (YPP)

The UK is not at present eligible for the YPP scheme and so British nationals are currently not able to apply for this programme. However, if you are also a national of another country (i.e. dual national) that is participating in the YPP, then you may be able to apply for the programme as a national of that country. More information can be found on the YPP website.

2.4 Internships

The UN and other organisations also offer internships. Information about the UN’s internship programme is available here.

3. Disclaimer

We hope that you find the information on these pages useful. It is intended for general information and is not comprehensive advice which you should rely on. Please note in particular that the information does not contain any promises of future employment with international organisations or endorsement of any kind.

We do not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from use of these pages to the extent that this is permitted by law. Any dispute arising from use of these pages will be subject to the law of England and Wales. The general terms and conditions which relate to information on the GOV.UK website apply to the information on these pages.