Program Assistant Position at the Quaker UN Office in New York
The Quaker United Nations Office in New York is a programme of the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) and is administered by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Founded in 1947, the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) comes out of a long tradition of Quaker commitment to international institutions and involvement in the work of intergovernmental bodies. The office is dedicated to serving the UN community and to representing Friends at UN headquarters. QUNO New York’s sister office is located in Geneva, and is administered by Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) of Britain Yearly Meeting. The Quaker United Nations Office enjoys consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) through FWCC.
QUNO’s work in New York is focused on a range of issues of interest to Friends and takes place through engagement with UN diplomats, UN staff, academics, and representatives of think tanks and NGOs. QUNO New York organizes and facilitates meetings, usually in the quiet, welcoming atmosphere of Quaker House. These meetings bring together a range of different actors, from the UN community and beyond, for informal exchanges on matters of mutual interest. Staff draw upon their work at the UN to inform constituents – Quakers and others involved in similar work – about issues of particular concern.
The permanent staff of QUNO New York consists of three UN Representatives, an Office Coordinator, and a Housekeeper at Quaker House. Day-to-day work takes place at the office in the Church Center for the United Nations, but many of QUNO’s activities and meetings in New York are hosted at Quaker House.
QUNO New York funds two Program Assistants (PAs) each year to serve from September through August. These are entry-level positions for college graduates who are interested in international affairs and the UN, and who have a commitment to Friends (Quaker) principles of peace, non-violence, and equality. The positions provide those individuals selected with an informal extension to their education in international issues. Additionally, PAs gain the practical experience of assisting QUNO New York staff with programme and administrative tasks. Past PAs have used their experience to continue on to graduate studies and careers in international affairs and other related areas.
PROGRAM ASSISTANT ACTIVITIES
The PA position begins in September, prior to the opening of the General Assembly. PAs work closely with senior programme staff on QUNO New York’s core areas of focus at the UN. Time is devoted to familiarization with the programme areas and tasks involved in programme work. This generally includes monitoring world news and developments, attending relevant UN meetings, planning events, and writing up notes, and carrying out research. Guidance is provided through one-on-one supervision meetings and regular programme planning sessions. Currently, QUNO New York works on issues related to the UN’s role in peacebuilding and prevention of violent conflict. These broad programme areas focus on themes such as human and restorative dimensions of peace work, and the need to include all key stakeholders in dialogue at the UN. Work on these themes makes reference to a number of geographic cases including Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Myanmar, and Somalia. The office also maintains watching briefs on Afghanistan, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iraq, as well as thematic issues such as Armed Violence and Development and Indigenous Issues. Priorities for work shift from year to year and are shaped by the needs and challenges at the UN and concerns of Friends worldwide. Staff work closely with the Quaker UN Committee, a group that includes members nominated by both AFSC and FWCC, to determine programme priorities.
PAs also gain administrative experience and spend approximately one-third of their time on office tasks such as preparing mailings, filing, attending to phones, taking care of visitors and supporting the general operations of the office. PAs prepare for and participate in meetings organized at Quaker House and elsewhere. At Quaker House this involves assisting in meal preparation, hosting and serving guests, and cleaning up. They also assist in the ongoing QUNO New York programme of outreach, helping to write and edit newsletters, preparing reports, and speaking to various groups about issues in and around the UN. By participating in these activities, PAs learn firsthand how NGOs function at the UN.
Program Assistants receive a subsistence grant to help cover accommodations, food, and miscellaneous expenses. The current rate is approximately $22,000 (US) per year. AFSC provides health/medical insurance for the year, including coverage for physician, hospital, prescription drugs, and dental services. Program Assistants are responsible for making their own housing arrangements. QUNO may be able to provide information to assist in these matters.
Please note, applicants must be eligible to work in the US and will be responsible for arranging their own visa.
The AFSC is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
Qualified persons are encouraged to apply regardless of their religious
affiliation, race, sex, sexual orientation or nature of disability.