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Capacity Building Initiative (CBI)

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Established in December 1950, UNHCR is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect and assist refugees, internally displaced people and other populations of concern. In more than six decades, UNHCR has helped tens of millions of people restart their lives. Currently, the agency has responsibility for 35,6 million people of concern and operates in more than 120 countries.

The Capacity Building Initiative (CBI) is a recruitment and conversion program geared to attract mid-career level professionals with expertise and working experience in functional areas where the organization wants to enhance its internal capacity to meet the operational requirements.

Selected candidates will join the programme at levels P2, P3, P4, or P5, depending on their experience and academic achievement, on a cohort program, and will be assigned to their posts after having completed a comprehensive induction and orientation program in early 2015. The CBI is open to both external and internal applicants.


Applicants will need to fulfill the following minimum requirements:

  • Advanced university degree, at least a Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution;
  • At least 4 years of relevant work experience in the respective functional area of specialization or expertise according to the vacancy announcement;
  • Excellent knowledge of English and at least one other UN language (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) with proficiency at the B2 level or above under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Additional languages are an asset;
  • Ability to work in a multicultural team;
  • Willingness to serve in conflict zones, deep field locations;
  • Willingness to rotate every few years.

UNHCR staff members should have completed at least one year of their current assignment as of the cut-off date for applications. General Service and field staff at the GS-6/GS-7 and FS-5 levels who do not have a bachelor's degree but who have a minimum of six years of experience in UNHCR, will also be eligible to apply.

Applicants are reminded that this is a competitive program and are requested to provide as much updated information as possible.

Selection Process

Applicants, including UNHCR staff members, will be screened based on technical, written and on-line psychometric assessments, as appropriate. Screened-in candidates will be subject to an interview conducted by DHRM, with representation from appropriate Divisions and Bureaux. Those selected will form the CBI cohort and will be placed in their posts following successful completion of a comprehensive UNHCR orientation and Induction.

Below is a chart with the main steps of the selection process which takes approximately six months from application to onboarding:

Career Opportunities

Candidates are invited to apply to the following CBI profiles:

Vacancies for specific functions and positions:

Offer of employment

External applicants recruited to a position through the CBI will be offered an initial temporary appointment, usually for six months, or an initial one-year fixed term contract.

  • Appointment as a CBI cohort member will be subject to satisfactory medical examination; verification of references; and certification of valid diplomas.
  • All selected candidates must accept the offer within two weeks of notification.

Questions regarding the CBI Programme should be addressed to: hqcbi@unhcr.org

For regular updates on vacancy announcements and recruitment process:




Click here to apply

External and internal candidates need to register and log-in. Make sure you have an updated p-11 form ready.
The next round of the Capacity Building Initiative will be launched shortly, please check for updates regularly if you are interested in applying.