Senior Legal Officer, P5

United Nations Office of Legal Affairs
  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Apply by
  • Posted
    May 01

Position description

Org. Setting and Reporting

This position is located in the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) of the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA). The incumbent reports to a Principal Legal Officer.


Within delegated authority, the Senior Legal Officer will be responsible for the following duties in the context of the management of the United Nations – Nippon Foundation Programmes (Project):

  • Serves as a recognized expert in the area of public international law and, in particular, in the field of ocean affairs and the law of the sea, and independently handles a wide range of multi-disciplinary, highly complex, and often sensitive and/or conflicting legal and policy matters involving issues relating to international law, to include interpretation and application of relevant instruments in that area.
  • Coordinates and direct teams of other legal officers, guides and supervises the work of junior officers; organizes and prioritizes the workload and provides general coordination and supervision of assignments as regards the legal work.
  • Provides authoritative legal advice on a diverse range of highly complex or novel substantive and procedural questions related to international law, in particular law of the sea, including new and emerging issues under consideration by Member States.
  • Organizes and supervises research projects and capacity-building activities of the United Nations – Nippon Foundation Programmes, as well as supervises the planning and delivery of extensive training programmes, including in the context of the Fellowships Alumni Network, on highly complex or novel issues/questions in the field of ocean affairs and law of the sea and prepares related training materials, studies, briefs, reports, and correspondence.
  • Takes the lead to develop, implement and evaluate the capacity-building programmes; directs programmes/project development, implementation, monitoring and assessment; identifies priorities, problems and issues to be addressed and proposes corrective actions; liaises with relevant parties; identifies and initiates follow-up actions.
  • Coordinates activities related to budget and funding (programme/project preparation and submissions, progress reports, financial statements, etc.) and ensures preparation of related documents/reports (pledging, work programme, programme budget, etc.).
  • Advises on and supervises the review, negotiation and drafting of agreements, project/partnerships proposals, institutional and operational modalities, and other legal documents; develops new legal modalities to meet unique needs/circumstances.
  • Performs other functions as required.


Core Competencies:

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.

Managerial Competencies:

Leadership: Serves as a role model that other people want to follow: empowers others to translate vision into results; is proactive in developing strategies to accomplish objectives; establishes and maintains relationships with a broad range of people to understand needs and gain support; anticipates and resolves conflicts by pursuing mutually agreeable solutions; drives for change and improvements; does not accept the status quo; shows the courage to take unpopular stands. Provides leadership and takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work; demonstrates knowledge of strategies and commitment to the goal of gender balance in staffing.

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.


Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in international law or related area. A first-level university degree in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Work Experience

A minimum of ten years of progressively responsible experience in public international law, in particular law of the sea, including related legal analysis, research, writing is required. Experience in delivery of training is required. Experience in programme management and administration is highly desirable. Experience in project management is also desirable.


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

Application instructions

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