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UN Organizations Paying an Internship Stipend

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

The UNOPS is an operational institution within the UN tasked with implementing projects for the UN System, international financial institutions, governments and other agencies around the world. By implementing projects, the UNOPS assists the UN and its partners provide peace and security, as well as humanitarian and development issues. The mission of the UNPOS is to “help people build better lives and countries achieve peace and sustainable development”. The UNOPS is focused on enhancing the private sector efficiency with a vision of “a world where people can live full lives supported by appropriate, sustainable and resilient infrastructure and by efficient, transparent use of public resources in procurement and project management. The services that the UNOPS covers are infrastructure, project management, procurement, financial management and human resources.

The UNOPS offers exciting internship opportunities around the world. To become eligible for an internship you need to be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate university degree program or have completed the degree within the past three years. To apply for an internship you need to create a UNPOS Job Account and submit details such as personal information, education, experience and skills.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization in 1957 in Vienna, Austria, with an aim to promote peaceful use of nuclear energy and its use for military purposes, in particular nuclear weapons. Today, the IAEA has two regional offices located in Toronto, Canada, and Tokyo, Japan. Even though the IAEA was established independently from the UN it regularly reports to the UN General Assembly and Security Council. The programs that the IAEA implements aim to enhance the development of peaceful usage of nuclear energy, science and technology, as well as to provide international standards that would combat the misuse of nuclear technologies.

The IAEA offers a competitive internship program in order to provide current students or those who have recently received university degree with the opportunity to gain practical work experience in accordance with their studies or interest. To be eligible for an internship program, you must be at least 20 years old and have completed at least three years of studies. You can also apply up to one year after completion of your bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree. The duration of internships is normally not less than three months and not more than one year.

The IAEA provides a stipend of EUR 500 to interns who do not receive any financial support from other sources, such as an institution or university. Additional 500 EUR is offered to interns who are required to pay for their own accommodation. You can learn more about internship opportunities and application procedures on the IAEA website.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty Organization (CTBTO)

The CTBTO is an international organization that will be established once the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty enters into force as a treaty that will outlaw nuclear test explosion. The organization’s seat will be in Vienna, Austria and the organization’s team will be tasked with verifying the ban on nuclear tests by monitoring and on-site inspections. Currently, the Preparatory Commission, which was established in 1997 operates for the CTBTO. So far, 184 countries signed the treaty, of which 168 ratified it. However, 44 nuclear holder countries must sign and ratify the Treaty before the CTBT can enter into force. This is still to be done by China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the USA.

Nevertheless, the CTBTO offers a limited number of internships to university students and recent graduates from diverse academic backgrounds in order to provide them with experience in various specialized fields. The duration of internships is normally not less than three months and not more than one year. For those students who do not receive financial support either from an institution or university, the CTBTO provides stipends during the internship period. Interns are required to participate in the medical scheme of CTBTO at their own cost. All interns are expected to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements during the internship period. You can learn more about the eligibility criteria on the official website.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

The FAO is one of the specialized agencies whose goal is to defeat hunger in the world and achieve food security as well as make sure that people have regular access to quality food in order to be able to live healthy lives. The FAO currently operates in 130 countries worldwide assisting developed and developing countries. The agency also acts as a hub of knowledge and information by helping developing countries to modernize and improve their agriculture, forestry and fishery practices in order to ensure good nutrition and food security for everyone.

The FAO offers internship programmes for students of FAO Member Nations who are enrolled in an undergraduate or postgraduate degree programme or recent graduates to who are highly motivated and wish to gain practical experience. To become an intern at FAO you should have appropriate residence or immigration status in the country of assignment prior to the start of the internship assignment. You can learn more about the FAO internship programmes on the official FAO website.

International Labor Organization (ILO)

This agency has been established in 1919 with a goal to bring together governments, employers and workers of 187 member states to set labor standards and develop policies and programs promoting decent work for all women and men. The organization gives equal voice to all three parties in order to make sure that their views are reflected in policies and programmes. The main goals of ILO are to promote workers rights, encourage equal employment opportunities as well as enhance social protection of workers.

ILO’s Internship Programme provides a wide range of opportunities for high calibre graduate/postgraduate students and recently graduated candidates who are looking for a “hands-on” learning experience in fields related to the ILO’s mandate and activities in the period from three to six months. The ILO opens the Internship roster including the a call for applications, 2 to 3 times per year. When the application period closes, the profiles of eligible candidates are made available to departments seeking interns within a given roster period. As such, internships can start on the 1st or 15th of any month throughout the year.

The costs of travel, passport, visa, insurance and accommodation are the intern’s responsibility. In case an intern is not financially supported by any other institution, the ILO provides a stipend to cover the basic costs. You can learn more about this on the official website.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

The WTO is a global organization that deals with the rules of trade between nations. The WTO operates a global system of trade rules and it acts as a forum for negotiating trade agreements, settles trade disputes between states and supports the needs of developing countries. All major decisions within the WTO are made by member governments, usually by ministers or by their ambassadors or delegates. The purpose of the WTO is to open trade for the benefit of all.

The WTO offers three types of internship: 1. The WTO Internship Programme is open to post-graduate students from all WTO members and countries or customs territories engaged in accession negotiations; 2. The China LDC and Accessions Programme (also known as the China WTO Accession Internship Programme); and 3. The WTO Support Programme for Doctoral Studies. Both 1 and 3 are reserved for post-graduate students from developing countries and least developed countries. Interns receive a daily allowance of 60 Swiss francs (including weekends and official holidays). The WTO also covers travels expenses, while interns are responsible for organizing their own health insurance. Read more about the WTO internship programmes.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

WIPO is a self-funding UN agency and it acts as a global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation. It has 191 member states. Its mission is to “lead the development of a balanced and effective international intellectual property system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all”.

The WIPO is always looking for talented interns with backgrounds of law, economics, information technology, technical cooperation, project management, administration, translation, marketing and communications. Students who are holders of a first level degree or who are pursuing an advanced degree will receive a monthly stipend of 500 Swiss franc.The duration of internship is from three to six months. Students who are holders of an advanced degree or graduate students who have completed their coursework but not the thesis, will receive a monthly stipend of 2.000 Swiss franc. The duration of internship for this category is three to 12 months. To apply for an internship, you must submit your candidature through the Internship roster which is advertised year-around. The WIPO reviews the roster regularly and if your application is a good match, the WIPO will contact you directly.

Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

The OPCW is an intergovernmental organization and the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, which entered into force on 29 April 1997. Its mission is to implement the provisions of the Convention in order to “achieve a vision of a world free of chemical weapons and the threat of their use, and in which chemistry is used for peace, progress and prosperity”. The OPCW’s seat is in The Hague, Netherlands, and it currently has 193 member states.  The organization works on overseeing the use of chemical weapons by member states and advocates for their destruction.

If you wish to join the OPCW team as an intern you should apply to their internship programme. The OPCW pays interns a 450 EUR monthly stipend to cover the costs. Interns do not receive financial support from the OPCW related to travel, visas, accommodation and living expenses costs. In addition, interns are required to cover all costs related to medical insurance. Currently, the OPWC has an open call for the summer internship applications. Read more about OPCW Internships.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

The UNHCR was established in 1950 with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland with an aim to protect refugees, forcibly displaces and stateless people, as well as to assist to voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.

The UNCHR is always looking for talented and motivated individuals from around the world to contribute to its mission and thus offers internship programmes to students and recent graduates in order to gain experience working within the humanitarian sector and international environment. Internships are offered around the world depending on the needs of the UNCHR. Interns who do not receive external financial support will be supported by an allowance to cover the costs related to food and local transportation.  All other costs will be covered by interns themselves. If you wish to work as an intern for the UNHCR you can read more about the eligibility criteria on the UNHCR website.

The World Food Programme (WFP)

The WFP is the largest humanitarian branch of the UN promoting food security and addressing world hunger. The WFP provides food assistance to around 91.4 million people in 83 countries every year. Its mission is to deliver food assistance in situations of emergency as well as to work with communities in order to improve nutrition and build resilience. It strives to end the cycle of hunger and poverty. The WFP mainly works in conflict affected areas where people are more likely to have less access to food.

The WFP is always looking for motivated students as interns from around the world and provides them with an opportunity to acquire practical work experience. The internship at WFP normally lasts between two and eight months. The WFP provides internship stipends that are related to the specific duty station. The maximum amount of monthly stipend is $1.000. Learn more about the internships requirements on the official website.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)

UNICEF was established in 1946 as a response to World War II emergencies with a goal to provide food and healthcare to children and their mothers in countries that were devastated by the conflict. UNICEF works in 190 countries “to save children’s lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence”. The organization holds over 150 country offices around the world and 34 National Committees carry out UNICEF’s programmes developed together with governments.

UNICEF implements internship programmes that offer students an opportunity to acquire practical experience through the areas of programme and policy, external relations and operations. UNICEF offices pay interns a stipend to cover living expenses and a one-time lump sum to cover the costs of visa and travel. You can learn more about the eligibility criteria on the UNICEF employment page.

About the author


Ada Hasanagic

Ada Hasanagić is a human rights professional currently working as a researcher at the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Previously, Ada graduated with honors from the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology and the University of Buckingham in the fields of Political Science and International Relations. Also, she earned a master’s degree in Democracy and Human Rights from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna.