United Nations - New York, NY

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This position is located in the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs (OLA). Incumbent would report to the Director of the Division and, as the case may be, be under the immediate supervision of the Principal Legal Officer.


In the area of concentration, the Senior Legal Officer will be responsible for the following duties: (a) Organization and supervision of substantive activities relating to: - substantive servicing of intergovernmental or expert meetings dealing with ocean affairs and the law of the sea issues, such as meetings of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf , including coordination with governmental bodies and organs and intergovernmental organizations, in support thereof; - monitoring and analysis of practice of States regarding maritime space, in particular with respect to the establishment of secure maritime boundaries under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; - monitoring, review and analysis of legal, political and security-related, and environmental developments in the field of ocean affairs, at both the intergovernmental and the national levels, with emphasis on promoting the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea through State practice and international judicial actions, and reporting thereon to United Nations intergovernmental organs and bodies; - assistance to States, at their request, regarding legal issues relating to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or related capacity building needs; (b) Coordination and direction of teams of legal officers; guiding and supervising the work of junior officers; assisting the Director/Deputy Director 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. (c) Service on various standing boards, committees, ad hoc working groups and task forces, as required; promote the work of the United Nations and represent the organization at meetings, conferences, seminars, etc. (d) Supervision of and participation in preparation of legal documents and publications of the unit.


  • In-depth theoretical knowledge of international law with emphasis on the law of the sea, including knowledge of international legal procedures and instruments;
  • proven ability in applying legal expertise to broad range of highly complex and novel legal issues and problems in the field of ocean affairs and the law of the sea, and in developing innovative and creative solutions.
  • Recognition as an expert in the law of the sea as evidenced through extensive experience and a proven track record of coordinating and delivering complex reports and services, including advisory services;
  • Excellent skills in legal writing and expression and ability to independently prepare legal briefs, opinions, and a variety of legal instruments and related documents for direct submission to senior officials, where applicable.
  • 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 the audience
  • Demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed
  • 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
  • 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 improvement; 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.
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 that 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 Law, preferably in public international law or comparative law with specialization in ocean-related matters. 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 responsible professional experience in international law or international relations, most of which should be in law of the sea and ocean affairs related matters at the international level. Experience in substantive servicing of intergovernmental meetings is required. Experience in organization or participation in international seminars on ocean affairs and the law of sea is required. Knowledge of UN policies, procedures and operations is desirable.

Qualifying years of experience are calculated following the receipt of the first level university degree recognised by the United Nations.


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this post, fluency in written and spoken English is required. Working knowledge of another UN official language is highly desirable.

Assessment Method

Evaluation of qualified candidates may include a competency-based interview.

Special Notice

  • Staff members are subject to the authority of the Secretary-General and to assignment by him or her. In this context, all staff are expected to move periodically to new functions in their careers in accordance with established rules and procedures.
  • Staff members of the United Nations Secretariat must fulfill the lateral move requirements to be eligible to apply for this vacancy. Staff members are requested to indicate all qualifying lateral moves in their Personal History Profile (PHP) and cover note.
United Nations Considerations

The United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs. (Charter of the United Nations - Chapter 3, article 8). The United Nations Secretariat is a non-smoking environment.

No Fee


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