About the Programme
How to Apply
Past edition

JPO & AEs Programme

The Italian Associate Experts and Junior Professional Officers Programme, also known as the JPO Programme, is a multilateral technical cooperation initiative sponsored by the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy. It enables Italian citizens in possession of a university degree and not over the age of 30 (33 for graduates in medicine and surgery) to gain in-field training and experience with the international organizations for a period of two years.

The purpose of the Programme is two-fold. On the one hand, it assists the international organizations in their technical cooperation activities by providing JPO services in development initiatives. On the other, it allows young people wishing to pursue an international career to acquire on-the-job professional experience, which may lead to future career development within the organizations or in the international field.

The Programme originates from a United Nations Economic and Social Council resolution adopted in 1961 which approved and encouraged the collaboration of volunteers, financed by their respective countries of origin, in implementing development cooperation initiatives and programmes.

Italy joined the scheme in the mid-seventies, and over the years has developed it into a Programme, extending its sponsorship to the Secretariat of the United Nations and relative organs and to a number of specialised agencies in the UN system and other international organizations with which the Italian Government stipulated specific agreements.

In 1984, an agreement with the Commission of the European Communities ratified the assignment of ltalian associate experts to delegations of the Commission in associate/partner countries (Africa, Caribbean , Pacific). To date, Italy has sponsored more than 1600 Associate Experts and Junior Professional Officers.

Information on the Programme, the recruitment campaign and the short-listing of candidates are dealt with directly by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) in Rome , in collaboration with the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy.


 To be eligible for short-listing, candidates must:

  • have Italian citizenship or that of a developing country (please note that while in the past years Italy financed JPO positions for nationals of developing countries, this has not occurred in the cycle 2014/2015 due to the limited availability of posts.)
  • hold one of the following academic qualifications: laurea specialistica/magistrale/ciclo unico or laurea followed by a University Master's Degree
  •  30 years old or younger (33 years old or younger for graduates in medicine). Candidates must be born on or after 1st January 1984 (1981 for graduates in medicine).
  • possess an excellent knowledge of English and Italian; candidates holding multiple nationalities, including the Italian, will be considered as Italian candidates and will have to prove their knowledge of the Italian language.
    Candidates from developing countries are not required to prove the knowledge of the Italian language.

The candidates holding a bachelor degree or similar must have a university master degree or a maîtrise.

In evaluating the resumé and professional background of candidates, knowledge of other foreign languages, previous work experience and the possession of further academic qualifications are considered definite assets.

The level of training and experience demanded varies greatly and depends on the requests made by the international organizations. They range from generic qualifications (jurist, economist) to more specific specialisation (experts in the fields of food, environment, development, human rights, etc.).

Selection process

The preliminary assessment of candidacies for admission to the selection tests is carried out by the UN/DESA Office. This evaluation is further examined by a UN Commission, bearing in mind candidates' university qualifications, work experience and language skills, and the types of posts the international organizations have submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and for which the latter gives its approval.

At the end of this preliminary phase, shortlisted candidates are called for a final selection interview (normally between the months of June and July) with representatives of the various international organizations.

These organizations are responsible for the final selection of candidates.

Successful candidates may be required to serve either at the headquarters of the organizations or in their overseas offices, carrying out technical cooperation projects and programmes in developing countries. Their entry grade into the service is at the lowest level of the professional category (P2 in the case of the United Nations and the equivalent grade in other international organizations), with a one-year contract that can be renewed for a second year.

However, it must be pointed out that not only are candidates selected on a highly competitive basis, but also that recruitment is not easy to obtain when the Associate Expert or JPO contract expires.

At the end of the interview period and prior to official recruitment by the international organizations, successful candidates take part in a two-week training and guidance course at the United Nations System Staff College in Turin. This course provides an important opportunity to meet and exchange views for newly selected JPOs, who coming as they do from different academic backgrounds and having to work in different environments, are motivated by common interests and ideals.

For further information on the JPO Programme, please contact the UN/DESA Office at the following e-mail address: JPOinfo@undesa.it or by phone calling the (+39) 06 68136320.

Warning to applicants