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Associate Legal Officer (Policy)

Pretoria (South Africa)

  • Organization: UNHCR - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Location: Pretoria (South Africa)
  • Grade: IICA-1, International Individual Contractors Agreement - Junior level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Legal - Broad
    • Legal - International Law
    • Refugee rights and well-being
  • Closing Date: 2020-10-28

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Terms of Reference

Associate Legal Officer (Policy) (UNOPS IICA 1)

UNHCR Pretoria, South Africa

Operational Context

The UNHCR Multi-Country Office (MCO) in South Africa delivers protection and assistance to
refugees and other persons of concern in South Africa and countries where there is no UNHCR
presence, namely Namibia, Botswana, Madagascar, Kingdoms of Lesotho and Eswatini,
Seychelles, Mauritius, and the Comoros. The cumulative population of persons of concern in
countries covered by MCO stands at 281,633 refugees and asylum seekers (and possibly
hundreds of thousands of stateless persons).

South Africa has been known for its generous refugee legislation but is steering towards restrictive
measures together with Botswana. Populations in several Southern African countries are small
and focus has been on phasing down and out in Namibia and Botswana. However, with the influx
of Congolese asylum seekers in the region and unresolved protection issues in Botswana,
UNHCR was compelled to increase its presence and staffing in countries where emergencies or
protection constraints called for UNHCR’s presence and the trend will most likely continue until
the time when governments in the region are able to independently manage refugee populations,
which is unlikely to happen in the near future.

In terms of refugee protection and solutions, South Africa has had progressive refugee legislation,
but legislative restrictions are underway, prompted by the scale of mixed migratory flows into the
country. Countries in the region are changing refugee legislation to narrow the formal asylumspace in various ways and tightening enforcement of encampment policies even with miniscule refugee populations like Botswana and Namibia. In all camps or settlement settings the setup is
parallel or semi-parallel service delivery for refugees, largely financed by UNHCR, and the
organisation is far from its global policy and vision of locally integrated lives and services for selfreliant refugees.
Whereas middle-income countries like South Africa, Namibia and Botswana in principle have
resources to spend on protection and service delivery for PoCs, the question at hand remains
their willingness to spend on refugees and asylum-seekers vis-à-vis local populations. In addition,
the region comprises cash-strapped countries like the Kingdom Eswatini and Madagascar, with
very limited resources to assist national populations, including refugees and asylum-seekers.
In regard to statelessness, resources and institutional capacity of governmental stakeholders will
remain limited. Comprehensive birth registration and access to nationality documentation will
remain major challenges in view of the overall development situation and economic constraints
faced by most countries in the region. The lack of financial resources will adversely affect the
availability of quantitative and qualitative data. Irregular migration is expected to remain high and
thus continue to be a risk factor for statelessness among migrant children, as well as disrupted
family ties of unaccompanied children (without documentation) and protracted displacement
situations. Regional commitments on the SADC level (MIDSA Conclusions 2015 to 2017, SADC
PF Resolution 2016, the AU Protocol on Nationality in 2018 or 2019) and globally applicable
advocacy tools (SDG, ID4D, UNICEF-UNHCR Coalition, recommendations by UN Human Rights
Treaty Bodies) will facilitate the work on statelessness in the region.

Title: Associate Legal Officer (Policy)
Duty Station: Pretoria, South Africa
Duration: 1 November 2020 – 30 October 2021
Contract Type: (UNOPS) International-Specialist IICA 1
Closing date: 28 October 2020 (midnight Geneva time)

The position

S/he provides functional support to the Representative and Executive Office team on legal and
policy analysis, input and guidance on protection and solutions issues relevant to UNHCR MCO
Operations and with regard to specific groups of persons of concern, including as concerns
protection advocacy, high-level dialogues, funding appeal documents, agreements, draft
legislation and protection interventions. S/he is instrumental in drafting protection guidance to staff
on all protection/legal matters and accountabilities. These include: statelessness (in line with the
campaign to End Statelessness by 2024), Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) commitments,
age, gender, diversity (AGD) and accountability to affected populations (AAP) through
community-based protection, Child protection, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
prevention and response, gender equality, disability inclusion, youth empowerment, psychosocial support and PSEA, registration, asylum/refugee status determination, resettlement, local
integration, voluntary repatriation, human rights standards integration, national legislation, judicial
engagement, predictable and decisive engagement in situations of internal displacement and
engagement in wider mixed movement and climate change/disaster-related displacement
responses. S/he supports senior management to supervise the implementation of protection
standards, operational procedures and practices in protection delivery in line with international
The Associate Legal Officer (Policy) is expected to coordinate quality, timely and effective legal,
policy and protection guidance and responses to the needs of populations of concern in all sectors
mainstream protection methodologies and integrate protection safeguards. The incumbent
contributes to the design of a comprehensive protection strategy. S/he assists in the drafting of
key legal and policy documents, protection guidance emanating from the Executive Office of the
South Africa Multi-Country Office. To achieve this, the incumbent will need to build and maintain
effective interfaces with all Units in the MCO and communities of concern, authorities, protection
and assistance partners as well as a broader network of stakeholders who can contribute to
enhancing legal, policy and protection.

Duties and responsibilities

All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job
description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of
UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and
Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff
members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core,
functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR’s core values of
professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity.

• Stay abreast of legal, policy, political, social, economic and cultural developments that
have an impact on the protection environment.
• Legal and Policy implementation guidance support, including the drafting of policy
implementation guidance;
• Support the promotion of International and National Law and applicable UN/UNHCR and
IASC policy, standards and codes of conduct.
• Support the consistent and coherent interpretation and application of legal and policy
guidance through mainstreaming in all sectors in applicable operations.
• Assist in providing comments on existing and draft legislation related to persons of
• Provide legal advice and guidance on protection issues affecting persons of concern;
• Contribute to a the MCO protection strategy and planning process.
• Support the coordination and leadership role of the Representative on Legal and Policy
Issues, including with regard to durable solutions through voluntary repatriation, local
integration and where appropriate, resettlement.
• Participate in the organisation and implementation of participatory assessments and
methodologies throughout the operations management cycle.
• Contribute to a programme of results-based advocacy through a consultative process with
sectorial partners.
• Support activities in the area of risk management related to Sexual Exploitation and
Abuse, fraud, case-processing, data protection, and human rights due diligence.
• Participate in initiatives to capacitate national authorities, relevant institutions and NGOs
to strengthen national protection related legislation and procedures.
• Support protection interventions with authorities on protection issues;
• Support evidence based submissions before Parliaments and Parliamentary Porfolio Committees

Essential minimum qualifications and professional experience required

The ideal candidate will be required to have:

Minimum undergraduate degree in the field of Law or other relevant field.

Work Experience

• Essential:

3 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 2 years relevant experience
with Graduate degree; or 1 year relevant experience with Doctorate degree. Professional
experience in the area of Legal advice, legal drafting, refugee protection, internal
displacement, human rights or international humanitarian law. Good knowledge of
International Refugee and Human Rights Law and ability to apply the relevant legal

• Desirable:

Field experience, including in working directly with communities. Good IT skills including
database management skills.


• Fluency in English.

Key Competencies:

• Core Competencies:

Organizational Awareness
Teamwork & Collaboration
Commitment to Continuous Learning
Client & Result Orientation

• Managerial Competencies:

Judgement and Decision Making
Empowering and Building Trust

• Cross-Functional Competencies:
Analytical Thinking
Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
Political Awareness


The successful candidate will be based in Pretoria, South Africa.


The position starts on the 1 November 2020 and it is for 12 months.

To apply

Interested applicants should submit an updated and signed Personal History Form (PHF), indicating “Associate Legal Officer (Policy)” in the subject of the email.

The PHF forms are available at

The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions.
UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as
an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all
qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age,
religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Please note that UNHCR does not charge a fee at any stage of its recruitment process
(application, interview, meeting, travelling, processing, training or any other fees).

Candidates may be required to sit for a written test and/or participate in an oral interview

Closing date: 28 October 2020 (midnight Geneva time).

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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