The SARC Programme

What is it?

Special Assistants to the UN Resident Coordinator (SARCs) are experienced young professionals (in many cases former JPOs) recruited at the level 3 of the UN professional staff level (P3) to provide support to the UN Resident Coordinator. SARCs are placed in the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator, and in most cases work directly under the supervision of the UN Resident Coordinator.

SARCs support a wide range of management and coordination functions of the UN System at country level, including to enhancing interagency coordination, and strengthening the Common Country Programming Processes (CCA/UNDAF/Joint Programmes), advancing harmonization and simplification efforts, supporting the National Development Plan/Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) processes, and follow-up on the UN Country Team's Annual Work Plan.

Working as a SARC is demanding, and requires a strong commitment to development, as well as interest in coordination, multi-tasking and facilitation of processes to achieve results.

The SARC Programme was initiated in 2003 with the support of the Danish Government. The Swedish government decided to join the Programme in 2005, Spain in 2009 and Norway in 2012. Experience indicates that the Programme has made a significant contribution to the implementation of UN reform at country level. It has been successful in providing experienced and talented young professionals, who each have made a strong contribution towards strengthening of the Resident Coordinator function.

How to apply?

Special Assistant to the Resident Coordinator (SARC) positions are advertised on the websites of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Norway, Japan, Finland and Sweden, as well as in relevant local media.

The Ministries of Foreign Affairs will shortlist candidates, which are qualified for the positions, and the final selection will be made by UNDP in close collaboration with the Resident Coordinator of the assigned duty station.

Who can apply?

Please note that only nationals from the following countries can eventually apply for a SARC position: Denmark, Norway, Japan, Finland and Sweden.

What we achieved

Since 2003, Special Assistants have been assigned to the offices of the Resident Coordinators in Africa, Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and the CIS and at Headquarters.
Results clearly demonstrate that the SARCs contributed to enhancing UN coordination through provision of high-level support to the Resident Coordinator, including facilitation of the initial processes leading up to the One UN pilots; facilitation of Common Country Assessment / United Nations Development Assistance Framework processes; facilitation and coordination of joint UN programmes, including the joint UN Avian Influenza Programme; and elaboration and coordination of joint UN communication strategies and coordination of MDG campaigns.

In Zambia, the SARC contributed to enhancing communications and coordination among the UN, through the elaboration of the first UN Communications Strategy, establishment of the joint UN Website for Zambia, and coordination of MDG advocacy campaigns.


In Viet Nam, the SARC contributed to building a strong Resident Coordination Support Team, and facilitated the initial process for the One UN pilot in Vietnam. The Special Assistant also coordinated the preparation of the UN MDG Campaign in Vietnam, which by the use of innovative communications efforts, was successful in reaching out to a broad audience.
In Nicaragua, the SARC facilitated a highly participatory CCA/UNDAF process and contributed to strengthening the coordination of upstream policy debates and dialogue among key development stakeholders through functioning as the secretariat for donor roundtables and coordination.
In Liberia, the SARC contributed to the coordination of the UNDAF process, and produced new information products to enhance the communication of the One UN in Liberia.
In Cambodia, the SARC contributed to enhancing communication and coordination systems among UN organizations, through among other things creating the UN intranet in Cambodia and coordination of the joint UN Programme on Avian and Human Influenza. The latter demonstrated a joint UN approach and resulted in increased allocation of resources.
In Albania, the SARC supported the initial process towards the implementation of the One UN pilot in Albania, and coordinated joint programmes of the UN organizations, including the Avian Influenza Programme.