Senior Legal Officer, P5

United Nations Office of Legal Affairs
  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
  • Apply by
  • Posted
    Sep 10

Position description

Org. Setting and Reporting

This position is located in the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs. The incumbent reports to the Principal Legal Officer.


In the area of concentration and within delegated the Senior Legal Officer is responsible for the following duties:

  • Serves as a recognized expert in ocean affairs and the law of the sea, and independently handle a wide range of multi-discipline, highly complex, and often sensitive and/or conflicting legal matters involving issues relating to the law of the sea, to include interpretation and application of instruments in that field.
  • Coordinates and direct teams of other legal officers, guides and supervises the work of junior officers; may assist the Director/Principal Legal Officer in general management and administration of the unit, organizing and prioritizing the workload and providing general coordination and supervision of assignments as regards the legal work.
  • Makes various types of recommendations to senior officials with respect to actions to take; recommendations are usually accepted as proposed.
  • Provide authoritative legal advice on diverse range of highly complex or novel substantive and procedural questions of the law of the sea, which may include those related to the development of legal regime for oceans as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the functioning of the bodies established under that or related instruments.
  • 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, studies, briefs, reports, and correspondence.
  • Services intergovernmental bodies and conferences, commissions, committees, task forces, expert groups and other bodies in the field of ocean affairs and the law of the sea, including preparation of background materials, summaries of issues and views of delegations, meeting reports, etc.
  • Assists in furthering inter-agency coordination and cooperation in the context of relevant mechanisms such as UN-Oceans.
  • Serves on various 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 design of new, or new applications of, legal instruments, policy, guidelines, systems, etc.
  • Supervises and participates in preparing legal publications of the unit.


  • Professionalism: In-depth theoretical knowledge of practical application of international law, in particular law of the sea and related areas. Knowledge of international legal procedures and instruments. Ability to apply legal expertise to analyzing a diverse range of complex and unusual legal issues and problems and in developing innovative and creative solutions. Strong analytical skills and ability to 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, and a variety of legal instruments and related documents. Discretion and sound judgment in applying legal expertise to sensitive, complex legal issues. Strong negotiating skills and ability to influence others to reach agreement. Ability to provide innovative project management leadership, by performing and/or overseeing the planning, development, and management of operations. Ability to work to tight deadlines and handle multiple concurrent projects/cases. Knowledge of contemporary international relations and of the UN system, 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.
  • Teamwork: Works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve organizational goals; solicits input by genuinely valuing others' ideas and expertise; is willing to learn from others; places team agenda before personal agenda; supports and acts in accordance with final group decision, even when such decisions may not entirely reflect own position; shares credit for team accomplishments and accepts joint responsibility for team shortcomings.
  • 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.
  • Building Trust: Provides an environment in which others can talk and act without fear of repercussion; manages in a deliberate and predictable way; operates with transparency; has no hidden agenda; places confidences in colleagues, staff members and clients; gives proper credit to theirs; follows through on agreed upon actions; treats sensitive or confidential information appropriately.
  • 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) in international law. A first-level university degree in combination with qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Work Experience

  • A minimum of ten years of progressively responsible experience in law, including legal analysis, research and writing, five of which should be in law of the sea and ocean affairs, is required.
  • Experience in substantive servicing of intergovernmental meetings is required.
  • Experience in organization or participation in international meetings on ocean affairs and the law of sea is desirable.


  • English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this post, fluency in English (both oral and written) is required. Fluency in French is desirable. Knowledge of additional United Nations official language is an advantage.

Application instructions

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