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Principal Legal Officer (General Law)

Jerusalem (Israel)






UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions. UNRWA seeks the services of a seasoned and innovative professional, highly motivated to provide skilled leadership in the position of:  


Principal Legal Officer (General Law)


Vacancy Announcement Number




Deadline for Applications

10 April  2017

(27 March 2017 for internal applicants)

Duty Station



UNRWA encourages applications from qualified women and welcomes applications from qualified candidates with disabilities.




This position focuses 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. The incumbent 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.


As required, this post shall assist the Director of Legal Affairs to lead 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. Under the direction of the Director of Legal Affairs, the Principal Legal Officer (General Law) in accordance with the established Agency policy and procedures, the incumbent will:


Primary Duties and Responsibilities

·         As required, assist the Director of Legal Affairs to lead 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;

·         Develop strategies to promote and implement and provide and supervise 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; advise other departments (Headquarters and Fields) on the interpretation and application of the Agency’s regulatory framework; provide 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;

·         Review 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;

·         Contribute to the Department’s client-oriented service delivery; contribute to identification and addressing important strategic legal and policy issues facing the Agency; provide and supervise provision of legal input into development and implementation of Agency strategy and policy relating to all areas of UNRWA;

·         Advise on resolution of contractual and tortious claims against the Agency, including overseeing, supporting and conducting negotiations, settlement and arbitration;

·         Provide and supervise provision of legal advice, training, outreach and assistance on matters relating to administrative and employment law, in particular advise on investigations and disciplinary matters; review drafts of Agency submissions to the UNRWA Dispute Tribunal and the UN Appeals Tribunal, and appear before the Tribunals as required;

·         In collaboration with the Principal Legal Officer (International Law), and as required, ensure the consistent interpretation and application of international law throughout the Agency; provide and supervise provision of advice and training on relevant public international law, including UN law and international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law;  provide advice on relevant public international law issues, in particular the status, mandate, privileges and immunities and related responsibilities of the Agency and its personnel;

·         Establish and maintain relations with representatives of host and other governments, the UN Office of Legal Affairs, UNSCO, members of the oPt UNCT and other entities with respect to issues of legal concern;

·         Serve as a member of the Agency’s Advisory Committee on Procurement and participate in other committees and bodies as required.


Professional Knowledge and Experience

·         An advanced university degree from an accredited educational institution in law, preferably with some specialization in contract law, commercial law, administrative law or public international law, and admission to practice law in a recognized jurisdiction;

·         A minimum of ten years of progressively experience as a lawyer in the United Nations, other international organization, government service, the commercial or private sector or NGO, including a period of experience in contract, commercial, administrative or public international law, including three years at a senior level;

·          Excellent command of spoken and written English.



·         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.



When the minimum requirements are not fully met, the Human Resources Department may substitute part of the unmet requirements under UNRWA’s equivalency determination guidelines with a combination of relevant academic qualification, additional professional training and/or progressive relevant work experience. Note: Work experience alone or formal qualifications with no relevant work experience are not considered sufficient for an equivalency determination.


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.


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.


Conditions of Service 

UNRWA offers an attractive compensation package including annual salary starting at $84,721 net tax free with post adjustment of 51.0% (subject to change without notice). Other benefits, subject to eligibility, include education grant, dependency allowance, home leave, pension fund, health insurance, 6 weeks of annual leave, and other allowances such as dependent spouse, single parent or child allowance as applicable. All UNRWA duty stations (with the exception of Gaza and Syria) are family duty stations. Initial contract is for two years, with the possibility of further extensions subject to the availability of funds, satisfactory performance and the continuing need for the post.


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. Please note that UNRWA only accepts degrees from accredited educational institutions. Only applications received through will be considered. Due to the large number of applications received for UNRWA vacancies, only short-listed applicants will be contacted.


The United Nations does not charge fees at any stage of the recruitment process (application, testing, interviewing, etc). The United Nations does not concern itself with information related to bank accounts.


General Information

UNRWA is a United Nations organization whose staff are expected to uphold the highest standards of integrity, neutrality and impartiality. This includes respect for and commitment to human rights, diversity, and non-violent means of dealing with all kinds of conflict. UNRWA staff are expected to uphold these values at all times, both at work and outside. Only persons who fully and unconditionally commit to these values should consider applying for UNRWA jobs. UNRWA is a non-smoking work environment.


The statutory retirement age for staff entering or re-entering service in the UN Common System after 1 January 1990 is 62 and 65 after 1 January 2014. For external applicants, only those who are expected to complete a term of appointment will normally be considered.


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.


On appointment, all individuals will be asked to sign a self-attestation, confirming that they have not committed, been convicted of, or prosecuted for, any criminal offence and that they have not been involved, by act or omission, in the commission of any violation of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.


Date of issue: 14 March 2017/ HB

Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

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  • Organization: UNRWA - United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees
  • Location: Jerusalem (Israel)
  • Grade: P-5, International Professional - Senior level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Legal - Broad
  • Closing Date: 2017-04-10

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