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Senior Legal Officer

Geneva (United States of America)

  • Organization: WHO - World Health Organization
  • Location: Geneva (United States of America)
  • Grade: P-5, International Professional - Internationally recruited position - Senior level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Legal - Broad
  • Closing Date: 2021-05-23

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To provide independent, authoritative and practical legal advice and legal services to enable the Organization to implement its mission of global public health consistently with its mandate and to protect the Organization's resources, reputation, integrity and its responsibility to its Member States. To provide legal input, during the planning and implementation of WHO's activities, so as to facilitate effective cooperation among those taking part - Member States, international bodies, international officials, collaborating institutions, individuals and commercial entities; to ensure that the activities are carried out on a firm legal basis; and to defend the Organization from legal action.


The incumbent is responsible for:

1. General commercial and contractual legal issues, in particular contracts, intellectual property. This includes: (i) high quality advice to WHO technical units, WHO co-convened initiatives (such as COVAX) and/or WHO-hosted partnership secretariats, on legally sound courses of action that comply with WHO policy and where applicable private and international law, and that will avoid costly contractual errors, including in situations where there may be no precedents and where new policy may need to be developed; and (ii) conduct high level negotiations on, and review and draft a wide range of complex contracts relating to matters within the incumbent's post description. This work involves, in particular, working on legal issues in the following areas: (a) issues relating to patents, copyright, confidentiality of data, licensing, software development, and product research and development; (b) donations in cash and in kind (including, in particular, of pharmaceuticals); (c) conflicts of interest and publications; (d) collaboration agreements; and (e) agreements for the procurement of goods and services, lease and premises sharing agreements, logistics, grants from WHO in support of the projects of outside organizations, and Technical Service Agreements, Agreements for the Performance of Work and similar contractual relationships. WHO's counterparts with regard to the above types of contracts include commercial enterprises, governments, funding agencies, research and academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The incumbent will also be required to advise on issues relating to WHO's collaboration with the private sector, including issues relating to co-sponsorship by WHO and attendance by WHO staff of meetings with commercial implications, and use of the WHO name and emblem. The incumbent is required to draft, review and/or negotiate, as required, standard or tailor-made agreements that effectively respond to the Organization's needs, protect its interests and avoid exposure to liabilities. In addition, the incumbent will be required to draft (and update from time to time, as may be required) appropriate template contracts and other documents to facilitate the above-mentioned arrangements.

2. Legal matters arising from the COVAX No Fault Compensation Program and other ACT-A legal issues, in close collaboration and under the supervision of the Principal Legal Officer, and in close consultation with the other relevant WHO units. This includes: (a) handling legal issues that may arise out of the services agreement with the Program's Administrator and/or the related Memorandum of Understanding with Gavi; working with the Program's Project Manager in respect of such legal issues, and participating in relevant meetings with representatives of the COVAX conveners; and (b) working on other ACT-A legal issues, and in particular provision of legal support on the COVAX allocation mechanism.

3. Other assigned duties, including: (i) Legal matters arising from WHO's research and development activities. This includes the provision of legal support and assistance to WHO's R&D Blueprint Team in close collaboration with the Principal Legal Officer, including the drafting, review and negotiation of contracts and other documentation relating to the WHO co-sponsored Solidarity Trials and other R&D Blueprint activities. WHO's counterparts to the foregoing contracts include pharmaceutical companies and other commercial enterprises, governments, research and academic institutions, and NGOs.(ii). Legal matters relating to WHO's prequalification processes and procedures: This includes drafting, review and updating of acceptable procedures, template letters of agreements, and template correspondence relating to WHO's Prequalification Programme and its activities. (iii) Advice to WHO technical units and WHO-hosted partnership secretariats on matters relating to contractual and other disputes, including assistance in negotiating an amicable settlement in a manner consistent with WHO's privileges and immunities, drafting, negotiating and reviewing settlement agreements, and advising on and participating in arbitration proceedings.

4. General protection of the Organization's legal interests in specific areas, such as use of the WHO name and emblem, co-sponsorship of meetings for which commercial involvement is an issue, collaboration with the private sector, conditioning of acceptance of donations, legal aspects relating to WHO's product evaluation schemes and general legal questions confronting international organizations.

5. On request by the Legal Counsel, to advise on constitutional, administrative and international legal questions arising during and relating to meetings of the World Health Assembly and Executive Board, including interpretation of the Constitution and the rules of procedure of the WHA and Executive Board and responding to public international law questions, as required.

6. Other functions of a legal nature as may be required, by the exigencies of the work of the Office.



Essential: An advanced degree (Master's level or equivalent or above) in Law from a recognized university, with emphasis on commercial and/or private law subjects.
Desirable: Study of corporate, contractual law and law studies in different national jurisdictions. A professional legal qualification, such as having passed a national bar exam. Familiarity with international law, international organizations law or international administrative law would be an advantage.


Essential: At least ten years' experience as a lawyer, of which at least seven years' experience practicing commercial law, advising on commercial legal issues and negotiating and drafting contracts within the legal department of a government, an international organization or a company, or within a law firm. Demonstrated experience at the international level.
Desirable: Experience in practicing commercial law in an international context, preferably within an international organization. Experience advising in corporate, commercial law.


Sound knowledge of private law, including in the context of international organizations. Ability to analyze and organize facts and present clear, logical and legally sound opinions. Excellent contractual drafting and negotiation skills in English. Contractual drafting and negotiation in French and Spanish desirable. Excellent inter-personal skills. Ability to provide in-house legal advice, and advice involving external stakeholders, on a wide range of legal matters relevant to the work of the Organization. Experience in the presentation and communication of legal considerations to non-lawyers in a time-sensitive and comprehensible manner.

WHO Competencies

Respecting and promoting individual and cultural differences
Moving forward in a changing environment
Producing results

Use of Language Skills

Essential: Expert knowledge of English and Spanish with intermediate knowledge of one of the other official WHO languages (Arabic, Chinese, French or Russian), preferably 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 89,837 (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 5937 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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