Legal Officer, P-3

UNOLA - United Nations Office of Legal Affairs

New York, United States

Org. Setting and Reporting

This position is located in the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA).The Legal Officer reports to the Director of the Codification Division, the Principal Legal Officer or, at times, the Senior Legal Officer.


Within delegated authority and depending on location, the Legal Officer will be responsible for the following duties:

  • Handles a range of issues related to international law, including the interpretation and application of constitutive, legislative and other instruments governing United Nations activities and operations, in consultation with senior Legal Officers;
  • Conducts extensive legal research and analysis and prepare studies, comparative studies, briefs, reports and correspondence, as requested by the General Assembly or its subsidiary legal bodies;
  • Undertakes basic or extensive review of legal documents, instruments, or other material; identifies important issues, similarities, and inconsistencies, etc.;
  • Prepares or assists in the preparation of drafts of background papers, studies, reports, legislative texts and commentaries on those texts, teaching materials, in particular for the trainings undertaken under the Programme of Assistance and legal publications, in the field of international law;
  • Facilitates at least one four-week training programme in international law away from Headquarters under the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, and assists in its preparation and organization, including proposing and inviting lecturers, logistical and administrative arrangements (i.e. procurement, delegation of authority), updating training materials, completing relevant reports, drafting relevant cooperation arrangements, delivering presentations during the programme, and selecting participants;
  • Prepares or assists in the preparation of legal opinions/advice on a wide range of international law issues, including the Charter of the United Nations, General Assembly resolutions and decisions involving, inter alia, issues relating to substantive and procedural issues arising during meetings of United Nations organs and subsidiary organs;
  • Prepares or assists in the preparation of agreements with governments and other entities. •Services or assists senior colleagues in servicing diplomatic conferences, commissions and committees, including preparation of background materials, summaries of issues and views of delegations, meeting reports, etc.;
  • Provides legal advice on human resources matters; reviews administrative matters;
  • Prepares or assists with the preparation of international law seminars and symposia, lectures on various legal issues at such events;
  • Provides guidance to more junior staff;
  • Performs other duties as assigned.


  • Professionalism: Theoretical knowledge of international law and instruments; demonstrated ability to apply legal principles, concepts and policy to a range of legal work and issues, mainly in the area of public international law, necessary to perform the duties and responsibilities required by the position; analytical skills and ability to conduct legal research on a range of relatively complex and intricate public international law issues; proficiency in legal writing and ability to prepare background papers and studies on a variety of legal issues and instruments; demonstrated ability to exercise sound judgment in the context of assignments given; and proficient in computer skills and, in particular, use of relevant software applications and information databases, Internet/Intranet services, library sources, etc; communication (spoken and written) skills including clear and concise drafting skills in accordance with relevant editorial standards. Knowledge of United Nations staff and financial regulations and rules. 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.


  • Advanced university degree (Master's degree or equivalent) in international law is required. A first-level university degree in law in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree. Qualifying years of experience are calculated following the receipt of the university degree in law recognized by the United Nations.

Work Experience

  • A minimum of five years of progressively responsible experience in law, including legal analysis, research and writing is required. Experience in public international law at the national or international level is required. Experience in drafting international law background papers with emphasis on the progressive development of international law and its codification is required. Experience with an international organization is desirable. Experience in publishing articles on topics of public international law is desirable. Experience in teaching or lecturing on subjects of public international law is desirable. Experience in organizing and facilitating international law training courses or seminars is desirable.


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

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