Senior Legal Officer, P5

United Nations Office of Legal Affairs
  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career / Advanced
  • Apply by
  • Posted
    Jun 28

Position description

Org. Setting and Reporting

This position is located in the General Legal Division (GLD) of the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), in the Institutions Support Cluster. The incumbent typically reports to the Principal Legal Officer and the Director of GLD.


Within delegated authority, the Senior Legal Officer may be responsible for the following duties:

  • Works in the area of international law, and independently handles a wide range of highly complex, and often sensitive legal matters involving issues relating to international, public, private commercial and administrative law, to include interpretation and application of relevant instruments in that area.
  • Coordinates and direct teams of legal officers, guides and supervises the work of junior legal officers; assists the Director/Principal Legal Officer in general management and administration of the unit, including budgetary documents and recruitment of staff, organizes and prioritizes the workload and provides general coordination and supervision of assignments relating to the legal work.
  • Makes recommendations to senior officials of substantive units on actions to be taken.
  • Provides authoritative legal advice on diverse range of highly complex or novel substantive and procedural questions of law, in particular, legal advice, assistance and support to the Organization, its separately administered Funds, Programmes and other subsidiary organs, in connection with the interpretation and implementation of their mandates and operational arrangements in furtherance of such mandates; partnerships with the private sector, including arrangements for the acceptance of pro bono goods and services; operational arrangements for the establishment of programmes of cooperation for development, technical and humanitarian assistance; and the use of the United Nations name, emblem and flag, and other issues concerning intellectual property rights.
  • Organizes and supervises research studies and the preparation of legal opinions, as well as performs extensive legal research and analysis on highly complex or novel legal issues/questions and prepares legal opinions, briefs, reports, and correspondence.
  • Provides legal advice and supervises the review, negotiation and drafting of agreements, contracts, and other legal instruments, including trust fund, contribution and pro bono and cooperation agreements, advice on legal and operational issues arising in connection with partnerships with the private sector, and advice on matters relating to the status and mandate of separately funded and separately administered UN Funds, Programmes and other subsidiary organs, and institutional and operational modalities for activities of the Organization and these Funds, Programmes and other subsidiary organs in the economic, social and humanitarian field.
  • Supervises the defense of claims, and disputes and negotiates settlement of claims, including copyright infringement claims, and prepares legal documentation relating to such settlements.
  • Provides legal advice, as appropriate, to senior officials on the interpretation of regulations and rules of the Organization, including its separately administered UN Funds, Programmes and other subsidiary organs.
  • Serves in standing boards, committees, ad hoc working groups and task forces, as required; promotes the work of the United Nations and represents the organization at meetings, conferences, seminars, etc.
  • Contributes to review and drafting of new, or new applications of, legal instruments, policy, guidelines, systems, including the Financial Regulations and Rules of separately administered UN Funds and Programmes.


  • Professionalism: In-depth knowledge of the practical application of international law, including the law of international organizations. Knowledge of international legal procedures and instruments, both substantive and procedural. Ability to apply legal expertise to analyze a diverse range of complex legal issues and problems and in developing innovative, creative and pragmatic solutions in handling legal matters. Ability to analyze and conduct comprehensive legal research on a range of issues, including those of a unique and/or complex nature; proficiency in legal writing and expression and ability to prepare legal briefs, opinions, or legal submissions and a variety of legal instruments and related documents. Ability to use discretion and sound judgment in applying legal expertise to sensitive, complex legal issues. Ability to negotiate and influence others to reach agreements. Ability to meet tight deadlines and handle multiple concurrent projects/cases. Knowledge of contemporary international relations and of the UN system, its organizations and interrelationships.
  • Shows pride in work and in achievements; demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter; is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; is motivated by professional rather than personal concerns; shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remains calm in stressful situations. Takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work.
  • Communication: Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; listens to others, correctly interprets messages from others and responds appropriately; asks questions to clarify, and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; tailors language, tone, style and format to match audience; demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed.
  • Planning & Organizing: Develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies; identifies priority activities and assignments; adjusts priorities as required; allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work; foresees risks and allows for contingencies when planning; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary; uses time efficiently.
  • Managing Performance: Delegates the appropriate responsibility, accountability and decision-making authority; makes sure that roles, responsibilities and reporting lines are clear to each staff member; accurately judges the amount of time and resources needed to accomplish a task and matches task to skills; monitors progress against milestones and deadlines; regularly discusses performance and provides feedback and coaching to staff; encourages risk-taking and supports creativity and initiative; actively supports the development and career aspirations of staff; appraises performance fairly.
  • Judgement/Decision-making: Identifies the key issues in a complex situation, and comes to the heart of the problem quickly; gathers relevant information before making a decision; considers positive and negative impacts of decisions prior to making them; takes decisions with an eye to the impact on others and on the Organization; proposes a course of action or makes a recommendation based on all available information; checks assumptions against facts; determines the actions proposed will satisfy the expressed and underlying needs for the decision; makes tough decisions when necessary.


Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent degree) in international law. A first-level university degree in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree. Admission to the bar of a Member State of the Organization, or otherwise qualified to practice law, is desirable.

Work Experience

A minimum of ten years of progressively responsible experience in international law, including legal analysis, research and writing is required. Experience in the legal office of an international intergovernmental organization, a law firm or a Government is required. Experience in dealing with issues related to operational activities of UN Funds, Programmes and other subsidiary organs is desirable. Experience in reviewing and negotiating agreements for public private partnerships is desirable. Experience working with the status and the privileges and immunities of International Organizations is desirable.


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For the position advertised, fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another United Nations official language is desirable.

Application instructions

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