The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – Senior Legal Officer.

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Organisational Setting and Reporting

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

This post is located in UNEP’s Corporate Services Division at the Nairobi duty station. Under the supervision of the Director Corporate Services Division, the incumbent will be responsible for the following duties:


  • Independently handle a wide range of multi-discipline, highly complex, and often sensitive and/or conflicting legal matters involving issues relating to international, public, private and administrative law, to include interpretation and application of instruments.
  • Provide authoritative legal advice on diverse range of highly complex or novel substantive and procedural questions of law, which may include those related to administration, staff relations and management, institutions support, procurement and contracts engagement in partnerships with donors or implementing partners and other operational matters, including on the establishment and administration of programmes and associated trust funds, etc.
  • Serve as an expert in one or more areas of concentration, coordinate and cooperate with other legal officers or trial attorneys across the UN system, guides and supervises the work of junior officers;
  • Lead the general management and administration of the unit, organize and prioritize the workload and provide general coordination and supervision of assignments as regards the legal work and managing associated budgets for unit travel etc..
  • Oversee the administrative law requirements of the organization; ensure code and conduct cases are appropriately managed; acts as the key liaison officer for investigations managed by Office of Internal Oversight services (OIOs) , leads on management of investigative cases to be managed directly by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • Supervise the defense and pursuit of claims, and disputes or prosecution of criminal cases on behalf of the organization; negotiate settlement of major claims and prepare legal documentation relating to such settlements.
  • Represent, supervise the representation of the organization on major cases in tribunal and administrative proceedings, including disciplinary cases and staff appeals.
  • Provide legal advice to senior officials on the interpretation of personnel policies, regulations and rules, including the review of administrative implications of Administrative Tribunal judgments; coordinate the preparation or amendment of administrative issuances and verifies their consistency with the Staff Regulations and amendments of administrative issuances and verifies their consistency with the staff regulations and rules.
  • Advise on and supervise the review, negotiation and drafting of major contracts, agreements, institutional and operational modalities, legal submissions/motions, and other legal documents; develop new legal modalities to meet unique needs/circumstances.
  • Contribute to review and design of new, or new applications of, legal instruments, policy, guidelines and systems. Identify policy gaps and propose development of instruments and guidelines to address these particularly as it relates to partnerships and special arrangements made with institutions for programme delivery
  • Organize and supervise research studies and the preparation of legal opinions, as well as perform extensive legal research and analysis on highly complex or novel legal issues/questions and prepare legal opinions, studies, briefs, reports, and correspondence
  • Serve on various standing boards, committees, ad hoc working groups and task forces, as required; promote the work of the United Nations and represents the organization at meetings, conferences and seminars.
  • Supervise and participate in preparing legal publications of the unit.
  • Perform any other related duties assigned.


  • PROFESSIONALISM: Knowledge of international legal procedures and instruments, including criminal law, both substantive and procedural. 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 in prosecuting complex criminal cases. 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, indictments or legal submissions/motions, and a variety of legal instruments and related documents. Ability to lead and cross-examine witnesses and make substantial legal arguments before Chambers of judges, or if required to take responsibility for the prosecution of criminal trials. 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 work to tight deadlines and handle multiple concurrent projects/cases. Knowledge of contemporary international relations and of UN system, organization 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.
  • CLIENT ORIENTATION: Considers all those to whom services are provided to be “clients” and seeks to see things from clients’ point of view; establishes and maintains productive partnerships with clients by gaining their trust and respect; identifies clients’ needs and matches them to appropriate solutions; monitors ongoing developments inside and outside the clients’ environment to keep informed and anticipate problems; keeps clients informed of progress or setbacks in projects; meets timeline for delivery of products or services to client.
  • 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.
  • 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 law is required. A first-level university degree in Law in combination with two (2) additional years of qualifying work experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Work Experience

A minimum of ten (10) years of progressively responsible experience in law, including legal analysis, research and writing is required.

International experience in a multicultural setting is required.

Minimum of three (3) three years of leadership, supervision and management of teams is required.

Experience in representing the organization in matters related to internal justice system is desirable.

Experience in the development of legal instruments is desirable.


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For the post advertised, fluency in oral and written English is required. Working knowledge of another United Nations official language is an advantage.



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