Principal Legal Officer

UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina
UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East logo
Job Summary

Job Description

Vacancy Announcement
Principal Legal Officer (General Law), P-5
Deadline for Applications
5 May 2019
(21 April 2019 for internal applicants)
2 years, with the possibility of further extension
Vacancy Announcement Number
UNRWA is committed to achieving gender parity at all levels of staffing under the current UN-wide gender agenda and strongly encourages applications from qualified women.
UNRWA welcomes applications from qualified candidates with disabilities.
UNRWA, the largest United Nations operation in the Middle East with over 30,000 staff working across five areas of operation, is looking for highly committed professionals wishing to make a change.
UNRWA’s strategic objectives
The mission of UNRWA is to help Palestine refugees achieve their full potential in human development under the difficult circumstances in which they live. In line with this mission, the Agency works towards five strategic outcomes: (a) Palestine refugee rights under international law are protected and promoted; (b) Palestine refugee health is protected and disease burden is reduced; (c) school-age children complete quality, equitable and inclusive basic education; (d) Palestine refugee capabilities are strengthened for increased livelihood opportunities; and (e) Palestine refugees are able to meet their basic human needs of food, shelter and environmental health. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN member states, regional bodies, business foundations and individual contributions.
Do you want to make a lasting difference?
If you are passionate about legal affairs in support of making a lasting difference for
Palestine refugees, this role will give you a unique opportunity to focus on development of strategies to promote and implement, and provision of advice and training on, contractual and procurement matters, resolution of commercial and contractual disputes, the Agency’s regulatory framework, public international law issues, administrative law issues and management of appeals before the UNRWA Dispute Tribunal and the UN Appeals Tribunal. You will provide technical advice, guidance and supervision to the Senior Legal Officer (Administrative Law), Senior Legal Officer (General Law) and Legal Officers as well as support and mentoring to other staff in the department including Senior Legal Officer (International Law) and the Legal Officers when delegating work tasks to them and administrative staff.
The Director of Legal Affairs may elect to designate this post as the Deputy Director of DLA by way of a letter for designation, it being acknowledged that the Director may withdraw such designation at his/her election. If designated as Deputy, this post will assist DLA in leading the programme of work and management of the human and financial resources of the Department and provide strategic and technical leadership for the Agency’s lawyers with a view to ensuring legally sound, timely, easily applied, politically sensitive and consistent advice. Upon entry on duty, if a Deputy Director of DLA has been designated, the references to the designation of the Deputy Director in this post description shall not apply until such time as the then designated Deputy Director leaves the Agency or the Director withdraws the designation.
The main responsibilities include:
 If designated as Deputy, the incumbent of this post will be directly supporting and deputizing the Director of Legal Affairs (DLA) in all aspects of work. He/she will be assisting DLA in leading the programme of work and management of the human and financial resources of the Department and providing strategic and technical leadership for the Agency’s lawyers with a view to ensuring legally sound, timely, easily applied, politically sensitive and consistent advice;
 Developing strategies to promote and implement and providing and supervising provision of advice and training on the interpretation and application of the Agency’s regulatory framework, including General Assembly resolutions, Staff and Financial Regulations, Rules and associated administrative issuances, organizational directives, and in particular regarding Agency governance and management of administrative, contractual and procurement law issues; advising other departments (Headquarters and Fields) on the interpretation and application of the Agency’s regulatory framework; providing technical expertise and advice on amendments to the Agency’s regulatory framework, including drafting of Agency regulations and rules and drafting or reviewing legal opinions on complex or sensitive financial issues including interpretation of the Agency Finance Regulations and Technical Instructions;
 Reviewing drafts of all types of Agency contractual modalities, including complex contracts for procurement of goods and/or services, memoranda of understanding with partners and funding agreements and providing training in connection therewith;
 Contributing to the Department’s client-oriented service delivery; contributing to identification and addressing important strategic legal and policy issues facing the Agency; providing and supervising provision of legal input into development and implementation of Agency strategy and policy relating to all areas of UNRWA;
 Advising on resolution of contractual and tortious claims against the Agency, including overseeing, supporting and conducting negotiations, settlement and arbitration;
 Providing and supervising provision of legal advice, training, outreach and assistance on matters relating to administrative and employment law, in particular advising on investigations and disciplinary matters; reviewing drafts of Agency submissions to the UNRWA Dispute Tribunal and the UN Appeals Tribunal, and appearing before the Tribunals as required;
 In collaboration with the Principal Legal Officer (International Law), and as required, ensuring the consistent interpretation and application of international law throughout the Agency; providing and supervising provision of advice and training on relevant public international law, including UN law and international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law; providing advice on relevant public international law issues, in particular the status, mandate, privileges and immunities and related responsibilities of the Agency and its personnel;
 Establishing and maintaining relations with representatives of host and other governments,
the UN Office of Legal Affairs, UNHCR, OHCHR, OCHA, UNSCO and other entities with respect to issues of legal concern;
 Serving as Chairperson of the Agency’s Advisory Committee on Procurement and participating in other committees and bodies as required.
Conditions of service
UNRWA offers an attractive compensation package including annual salary starting at $87,108 net tax free with post adjustment of 50.4% (subject to change without notice). All UNRWA duty stations (with the exception of Gaza and Syria) are family duty stations. Other benefits, subject to eligibility, include:
 Dependency allowances
 Rental subsidy
 Education grant for children
 Home leave travel
 6 weeks (30 working days) annual leave
 Pension fund entitlements under the
UN Joint Staff Pension Fund
 International health insurance; optional
life insurance
 Disability protection
Additional information
The incumbent should be able to travel in the Agency's areas of operation in the Middle East as well as to other locations.
To qualify for this position, you will need:
An advanced university degree from an accredited educational institution in law, preferably with some specialization in contract law, administrative law or public international law, and admission to practice law in a recognized jurisdiction.
At least 10 years of progressively responsible and relevant experience as a lawyer in the United Nations, other international organization, government service, the commercial/private sector or NGO, including a period of experience in contract, commercial, administrative or public international law, and three years at a senior level, including two years of relevant experience at international level outside one’s home country.
Excellent in written and spoken English.
Desirable qualifications:
 Knowledge of the history and contemporary problems of the Middle East;
 Familiarity with UN Common System and practices;
 Working knowledge of Arabic;
 Experience in appeals to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal, United Nations Appeals Tribunal, ILO Administrative Tribunal or other international administrative tribunal.
You will also need to demonstrate the following competencies:
 Ability to manage a team, to progress with work independently and to mentor and participate as a member of a team;
 Ability to negotiate effectively;
 Ability to effectively compile and synthesize information;
 Proven ability in the analysis of facts/information, the development of rigorous arguments and replies and the provision of sound advice;
 Ability to communicate effectively with a range of internal and external contacts;
 Ability to develop and implement strategies;
 Excellent English drafting skills.
For guidance on how to prepare for competency-based interviews:
Who we are
For almost 70 years, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) has been working on the ground in five fields of operations in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip providing direct assistance and protection for some 5 million Palestine refugees in the Middle East. UNRWA is mandated by the UN General Assembly to provide this assistance and its mission is to help Palestine refugees achieve their full potential in human development until there is a just and lasting solution for their plight. UNRWA restores safety, dignity and hope to millions who have been uprooted by conflict with services encompassing education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance.
For more details on UNRWA, please visit:
How to apply
To start the application process, applicants are required to register at by creating a personal profile and completing UNRWA Personal History Form. Only applications received through http://jobs.unrwa.orgwill be considered. Due to the large number of applications received for UNRWA vacancies, only applicants short-listed for interview will be contacted. The United Nations does not charge fees at any stage of the recruitment process. The United Nations does not concern itself with information related to bank accounts.
General information
UNRWA staff are expected to uphold the highest standards of integrity, neutrality and impartiality at all times. This includes respect for and commitment to human rights, diversity, and non-violent means of dealing with all kinds of conflict. Only persons who fully and unconditionally commit to these values should consider applying for UNRWA jobs. UNRWA is a non-smoking work environment.
The Agency reserves the right not to make an appointment, to make an appointment at a lower grade, or to make an appointment with a modified job description.
Date of issue: 8 April 2019/CXS