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Unit Head, LAW (Public Health Law and Policies)

Geneva (Switzerland)

  • Organization: WHO - World Health Organization
  • Location: Geneva (Switzerland)
  • Grade: P-5, International Professional - Internationally recruited position - Senior level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Public Health and Health Service
    • Managerial positions
    • Legal - Broad
  • Closing Date: 2020-09-24

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The mission of WHO's UHC/Healthier Populations Division is to contribute to reducing health inequalities and reducing preventable disease and injury caused by environmental, social and economic determinants of health. This is achieved through a coordinated inter-sectoral approach aimed at enabling all people to enjoy better health and well-being, in line with the Organization's 13th General Programme of Work (GPW13) and the Sustainable Development Goals. Within the Division, the Department of Health Promotion works to reduce risks associated with tobacco use, alcohol consumption and physical inactivity, thereby contributing to better population health, through cross-cutting normative, fiscal and legal measures to enhance wellbeing, health literacy and engage multi stakeholders through the settings approach and community engagement strategies.Within the HPR Department, the Public Health Law and Policies (LAW) unit provides cross-cutting support on legal and regulatory issues with a focus on tobacco control, healthy diets, physical activity, harmful use of alcohol and good governance. The Unit provides specialized technical assistance at all stages of the policy cycle, from assisting Member States to manage legal risk during policy development, to assisting in the event of litigation. The Unit also builds the legal and regulatory capacity of Member States to implement WHO guidance and supports development of norms and standards at the international level.


- Provides technical leadership, coordination and specialized technical support within the Department of Health Promotion, ensuring that activities in this area are carried out efficiently and effectively.

- Develops and proposes technical health policies and strategies for implementation through collaboration with Regional and Country Offices and provides advice in developing further the work in public health law and policies, for strengthening and improving technical capacity of target clienteles.

- Oversees a unit of technical teams specialized in various domains within their area of expertise and facilitates the efficient flow of team synergies.

- Manages the programme area in delivering its objectives through efficient managing a small team of technical staff, financial resources and effective work planning to optimize the programme's deliverables in line with the mandate of the Organization.

- Leads and conducts research on best practices in implementing programmes and activities and dissemination of information for capacity building in the respective area of work. Support development and maintaining effective collaboration with relevant bodies, agencies and sectors in strengthening country capacity and policy implementation.

- Manages the monitoring and evaluation and reporting of the subject area of work of key performance indicators and reporting requirements and mechanisms to optimize performance of Programme deliverables.

- Serves as the technical reference among the peer community, UN Agencies and other stakeholders at the technical levels and. as a technical resource to the public on public health law and policies addressing risk factors for noncommunicable disease and health promotion by responding to inquiries and providing detailed and technical information on related principles, practices, issues, measures, techniques and processes.

- Liaises with and utilizes partnerships in other UN Agencies, Donor, or research institutions to position the technical area of work and implementation into Global and/or National policies. Support existing and new global and regional networks related to public health law and policies, including support WHO engagement with relevant platforms for interaction with stakeholders.

- Represent the programme area of work at various meetings in-and externally to advocate for work in public health law and policies. Maintain liaison with and coordinate with national counterparts, technical departments at HQ and with donor and development partners (UN and bilateral) to ensure internally consistent and harmonized recommendations on policies and strategies related to relevant public health law and policies.

Specific duties:

- Coordinate provision of specialized technical assistance and capacity building to Member States on legal matters.

- Support development of international norms and standards to advance the missions of the Department and Division.

- Develop and monitor the unit work plans and budgets and support resource mobilization for the work programme.



Essential: Advanced level university degree (Masters level) in law, with an advanced level university degree (Masters level or above) in public health.

Desirable: Relevant DrPH or PhD degree in law, health, social or political sciences or related field.


Essential: At least ten years of progressively responsible professional experience at the intersection of law, public health, health promotion and related fields, with at least three years at the international level. Demonstrated professional experience providing advice in the field of law and public health and demonstrated success in assisting governments to pass new laws and defend them in the event of legal challenge. Proven track record in working in partnership with many sectors. Considerable experience in international relations, particularly in relations with both state and non-state actors. Experience managing diverse teams and in working with multiple stakeholders. Demonstrated experience at the international level.
Desirable: Working experience in an international organization. Experience working with national and international agencies active in the prevention of Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) and their risk factors, health promotion and/or public health. Experience in working with web-based knowledge networks.


Concrete skills in the planning and coordination of multidisciplinary public health programmes, which may include the implementation of a public health/disease control programmes. Strong skills in the area of developing and establishing polices and strategies. Excellent skills and ability in managing diverse teams and financial resources. Good skills in mobilizing resources. Ability to engage and communicate effectively and diplomatically with external partners including Ministries of Health, Donor institutions, Civil Society, and other stakeholders. Commitment to collaborate effectively with other key partners in the Health Subject area. In depth knowledge and expertise in use of law and regulation to reduce risk factors for noncommunicable disease and knowledge and expertise of global health promotion practice, particularly in multisectoral action. In depth knowledge and expertise in developing and establishing national regulatory policy concerning risk factors for noncommunicable disease, including tobacco, unhealthy diet, harmful use of alcohol and inadequate physical activity. Ability to write in a clear and concise manner including technical papers and reports for internal and external audiences, as well as briefing notes for consideration by senior management of WHO.

WHO Competencies

Respecting and promoting individual and cultural differences
Producing results
Building and promoting partnerships across the organization and beyond
Creating an empowering and motivating environment

Use of Language Skills

Essential: Expert knowledge of English.
Desirable: Intermediate knowledge of French.


WHO salaries for staff in the Professional category are calculated in US dollars. The remuneration for the above position comprises an annual base salary starting at USD 88,162 (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance, as applicable), a variable post adjustment, which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station, and currently amounts to USD 6436 per month for the duty station indicated above. Other benefits include 30 days of annual leave, allowances for dependent family members, home leave, and an education grant for dependent children.


  • This vacancy notice may be used to fill other similar positions at the same grade level
  • Only candidates under serious consideration will be contacted.
  • A written test may be used as a form of screening.
  • In the event that your candidature is retained for an interview, you will be required to provide, in advance, a scanned copy of the degree(s)/diploma(s)/certificate(s) required for this position. WHO only considers higher educational qualifications obtained from an institution accredited/recognized in the World Higher Education Database (WHED), a list updated by the International Association of Universities (IAU)/United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The list can be accessed through the link: Some professional certificates may not appear in the WHED and will require individual review.
  • Any appointment/extension of appointment is subject to WHO Staff Regulations, Staff Rules and Manual.
  • Staff members in other duty stations are encouraged to apply.
  • WHO is committed to workforce diversity.
  • WHO has a smoke-free environment and does not recruit smokers or users of any form of tobacco.
  • WHO has a mobility policy which can be found at the following link: Candidates appointed to an international post with WHO are subject to mobility and may be assigned to any activity or duty station of the Organization throughout the world.
  • Applications from women and from nationals of non and underrepresented Member States are particularly encouraged.
We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
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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