Senior Legal Officer (Administration of Justice), P4, Nairobi 39 views0 applications 236 views


The Senior Legal Officer (Administration of Justice), P4, serves under the supervision of the Senior Legal Adviser & Deputy Head of Service (LAS), P5, who is the focal point within the Legal Affairs Service (LAS) to plan, coordinate and manage UNHCR¿s (non-refugee law related) legal affairs, with emphasis on international public service law, interpretation and application of HR policies, and disputes primarily but not exclusively before the United Nations Dispute and Appeals Tribunal. However, the incumbent will function on a largely autonomous basis and may supervise any interns, consultants and junior staff. He/she provides senior level support on all matters relating to the UN internal justice system, including preparation of legal opinions and advice on requests for management evaluation, drafting legal pleadings and representing the Organization at oral hearings before international tribunals, including the United Nations Dispute Tribunal (UNDT). The incumbent is also responsible for providing expert advice on legal issues relating to investigations and disciplinary proceedings. He/she also liaises with the Office of Legal Affairs in the UN Secretariat on legal issues relating to cases before the United Nations Appeals Tribunal (UNAT) following an appeal of a UNDT judgment. The incumbent also provides substantive input regarding the drafting of legal opinions and policies on HR-related matters. The incumbent will handle as a priority cases related to sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment which require special care and expertise to substantiate complex cases and protect witnesses and survivors. The incumbent will play a strong role in contributing to effective action to detect, respond and prevent sexual exploitation and abuse along with sexual harassment, particularly by lowering the time required to process these complex cases.

In light of the presence in Nairobi, the incumbent may be requested to give advice on other non-refugee and related legal matters including contracts and the status, privileges and immunities of UNHCR and its personnel. In a particularly demanding environment, the incumbent, in addition to solid generalist legal background, will demonstrate expert written and oral advocacy skills acquired before judicial or arbitral courts or administrative tribunals. The Senior Legal Officer must have an in-depth knowledge of the jurisprudence of the United Nations Dispute and Appeals Tribunals or knowledge and experience in applying employment or administrative law in a national jurisdiction. The incumbent must also understand, or have the ability to rapidly understand how the UN statutory framework functions.


Accountability **

  • UNHCR is provided with clear and consistent legal advice on all aspects of administrative and personnel matters, including, but not limited to requests for management evaluation, cases brought before the UNDT and UNAT and in disciplinary proceedings resulting in high level of compliance with legal advice.
  • Legal opinions, pleadings and other legal advice are drafted in accordance with established legal policy, standards and procedures.
  • UNHCR is adequately represented before the UNDT and UNAT.


  • Provide expert advice and guidance on a wide array of legal matters, with a special emphasis on the UN internal justice system and human resources legal issues, particularly disciplinary cases involving sexual exploitation and abuse or sexual harassment.
  • Assist in responding to media requests and donor demands in relation to cases involving sexual exploitation and abuse or sexual harassment.
  • Analyse and advise on requests for management evaluations by UNHCR staff.
  • Prepare legal pleadings and represent the Organization at oral hearings before the United Nations Dispute Tribunal.
  • Liaise with the Office of Legal Affairs in the UN Secretariat on legal issues relating to claims before the United Nations Appeals Tribunal (UNAT).
  • Liaise with the UNHCR Ombudsperson in connection with cases referred to mediation.
  • Provide legal advice, as necessary, to the Inspector General’s Office on investigation procedures and to the Director, DHRM on disciplinary proceedings.
  • Provide legal interpretation of UN Regulations and Rules and relevant instructions, guidance and policy issues.
  • Review draft human resources policies with a particular emphasis on policies and guidance related to sexual exploitation and abuse or sexual harassment, and ensure that they are aligned with established policy and standards; guide offices in the field to ensure that personnel matters are dealt with in accordance with relevant procedural guidelines.
  • Analyse UNHCR¿s internal regulatory framework, as appropriate, and propose initiatives and measures to enhance existing policies and practices and ensure compliance with relevant rules and regulations.
  • Manage personnel through regular performance appraisals, coaching, and assessments of staff training and development needs.
  • Perform other related tasks as required.


  • Initiate and issue legal opinions for the Office of the Deputy High Commissioner on, inter alia, requests for management evaluation and draft pleadings and represent the Organization at oral hearings before the UNDT.
  • Initiate and issue legal opinions on all aspects of administrative and personnel matters, including HR policy initiatives and implementation.
  • Enforce legal policy and standards pertaining to relevant areas of responsibility.
  • In coordination with, and as delegated by, the Head, Legal Affairs Service, represent LAS in meetings within UNHCR and represent UNHCR with external counterparts on the above issues.


  • Graduate degree (equivalent of a Master’s) in Law preferably with a focus on international administrative/public law plus minimum 8 years of previous relevant work experience including at least five years of experience in the field of litigation. To fulfil this requirement, the incumbent must demonstrate experience not only in written but also oral advocacy acquired before judicial courts or arbitral and administrative tribunals. Undergraduate degree (equivalent of a BA/BS) plus 9 years or Doctorate degree (equivalent of a PhD) plus 9 years of previous relevant work experience may also be accepted.
  • Bar exam or equivalent qualification to practice law in at least one national jurisdiction.
  • In-depth knowledge and experience of international law, including, international administrative law as practiced in international organizations (in particular in the United Nations) and/or experience applying employment or administrative law in a national jurisdiction.
  • Thorough understanding of the UN system.
  • Strong analytical skills and ability to conduct legal research on a range of complex and intricate issues.
  • Excellent skills in drafting a broad range of documents of a legal nature, including legal opinions, pleadings, contracts and briefing notes.
  • Demonstrated ability to provide oral briefings on complex legal issues to legal and non-legal audiences.
  • Fluency in English (both oral and written).

In the absence of a sufficient number of applicants possessing all essential minimum qualifications and professional experience, individual requirements may be waived.


  • Experience with alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
  • Experience in dealing with issues related to the internal justice system of the United Nations, knowledge of the jurisprudence of the UNDT and UNAT as well as organizational regulatory frameworks and policies.
  • Prior exposure to, and demonstrated competence in, the conceptual development of strategic HR approaches and corporate HR policies.
  • Knowledge of the privileges and immunities of UN/HCR and its personnel.
  • Knowledge of the principles of international commercial law and contract law as applied by the UN.
  • Knowledge of UN/HCR field operational realities.
  • Solid computer skills, including good knowledge of databases.
  • Fluency in French.
How to apply:

Interested applicants should submit their application online on the UNHCR Careers Page at by clicking on “Vacancies”.

Closing date for applications: 30 December 2019 (midnight Geneva time).

The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and
opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities
as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are
encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex,
national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

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