Today, an email somehow found its way into my inbox with some revealing numbers which go some way towards explaining the enormous cost required to ensure the United Nations remains the toothless organisation it has become.  

The missive came from a Director of Personnel at the UN’s headquarters in New York – the behemoth also operates three additional subsidiary regional headquarters in Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi. 

It sought applications for “current openings” in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs – especially from “passionate changemakers to contribute to our mission to help the United Nations drive global progress”.

The “list of current openings” were as follows. 

  1. Senior Technical Advisor, D1-D2

  2. Senior Economic Affairs Officer, D1

  3. Transport Planner, P4

  4. Senior Environmental Affairs Officer, D1

  5. Programme Officer, P4

  6. Finance Officer, P4

  7. Research Assistant, P4

  8. Emergency Programme Officer, P4

  9. Senior Public Health Officer, D1

  10. Logistics & Administration Officer, P4

  11. Social Work Officer, P4

  12. Human Resource Officer, P5

  13. Associate Procurement Officer, P4

 But it was the salaries associated with these positions that really made me sit up and take notice.   

“Details of the Associated Annual net salaries in United States Dollars are as follows,” the email elucidated. 

 P1: $87,553.00 – $91,014.00

P2: $98,441.00 – $111,962.00

P3: $117,554.00 – $148,384.00

P4: $151,031.00 – $169,540.00

P5: $171,226.00 –  $ 192,569.00

D1: $193,577.00 –  $211,248.00

D2: $213,676.00 – $241,995.00

Up to $169,540 for a Research Assistant! Approximately $200,000 for a Senior Techincal Adviser. These salaries seem much larger than advertised elsewhere. 

A research assistant at New York Univerisity might make $55,000 annually if they had good experience. Finance Officers (not manager or directors) seem to make about the same. 

Now, the amounts shown in the email seem considerably higher than those listed on the UN’s website for salary scale for those positions. But the UN also pays something called a ‘post adjustment multiplier’ which can increase your salary by 67% for the inconvenience of living in New York/working for the UN.

I attended a briefing at the UN in New York once upon a time. It was thronged with people from all  over the world, which was pretty impressive, but an air of self-importance pervaded all the proceedings which didn’t seem to match anything actually being achieved. 

Truth be told, the UN is a bit of a joke. Countries who persecute their own citizens, like China, take no notice of any ‘stern rebukes’ it issues – and why would they when they get rewarded for beating down Hong Kong by retaining a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. 

UN peacekeeping missions have also proved a disaster in recent times, failing to prevent horrific slaughter and human rights abuses in places like South Sudan, and Myanmar. 

For the past two decades, more than 2,000 sexual abuse and exploitation complaints have been made against U.N. peacekeepers and personnel worldwide, with more than 700 occurring in Congo. All this, despite the U.N. peacekeeping force having an approved budget of a staggering $6.51 billion for twelve month in 2019/2020. 

Of course, the inflated salaries and failure to achieve mission now seem to be part and parcels of NGOs throughout the world. Often this largesse is funded by the taxpayer, and no one seems to really hold all this spending to account. No wonder ex-politicos and ‘human rights campaigners’ love the UN. It’s a gravy train like no other. 

Ireland has given tens of millions to the UN in recent years. Good to know that it all helps to ensure enormous salaries can be paid to a crowded sector in New York. 



Máirín De Barra