Legal Officer

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Dakar, Senegal
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
International Organization
Experience Level: 
5-7 Years
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


Please note: this job post has expired! To the best of our knowledge, this job is no longer available and this page remains here for archival purposes only.

Organizational Setting

The Legal and Ethics Office (LEG) ensures that the Organization's activities are carried out in accordance with its Constitution and the other Basic Texts of the Organization, in a manner consistent with its status as an inter-governmental organization of the United Nations system, and that its relationships with governments, organizations and individuals are managed on a sound legal basis.

The Development Law Branch (LEGN) provides legal advisory services to Governments on sustainable food and agriculture and utilisation of natural resources (including land, water, fisheries and aquaculture, plants, animals, food, forestry, wildlife, environment and biodiversity), as well as general agricultural issues (institutions, trade, economic reform). 

These LEGN positions are outposted to, respectively, the FAO Subregional Office for Eastern Africa in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, and the FAO Subregional Office for West Africa in Dakar, Senegal. The functions of the posts cover all of the Africa Region and may, from time-to-time, include activities outside the African Region.

Reporting Lines

The Legal Officer reports to the Senior Legal Officer (Branch Head, LEGN) and is under the overall guidance of the Legal Counsel.

Technical Focus

Development Law, including legal and institutional aspects of sustainable food and agriculture and natural resource management, in line with the Organization’s Strategic Objectives.

Key Results

Comprehensive legal support in the planning and delivery of multi-disciplinary legal activities, services and products pertaining to the Organization’s mandate, in support of the FAO Strategic Objectives, Regional Initiatives, and related Delivery Mechanisms, and in alignment with the Organization’s Policy on Gender Equality.

Key Functions

  • Performs legal research and analysis, reviews and prepares, or assists in the preparation of, legal opinions/advice on a wide range of multidisciplinary and complex legal matters involving issues of international, public, private, and development law;
  • Drafts recommended texts of laws, regulations and other legal instruments, legal opinions, briefs, reports, correspondence, as well as studies, publications and other legal documents;
  • Prepares or assists in the preparation of background papers, studies, reports, legislative texts and commentaries on those texts;
  • Prepares or assists in the preparation of legal opinions/advice on a wide range of international and/or development law issues;
  • Contributes to the work of relevant Strategic Programme Teams, Technical Units at FAO Headquarters and FAO Decentralised Offices in order to ensure best synergies between legal, policy and governance related work in support of Member Countries;
  • Participates, as required, in working groups, meetings, seminars and conferences.

Specific Functions

  • Provides advice to Member Governments, to FAO Technical Units and to FAO Decentralised Offices on development law issues, in particular on the legal and institutional aspects of food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture and the management of natural resources, in line with the Organization’s Strategic Objectives, Regional Initiatives, programmes and priorities;
  • Contributes to the preparation and implementation of field projects and conducts legal assistance missions, primarily in the Region;
  • Provides technical supervision for assignments of national and international non-staff personnel on activities involving substantive legal work on development and international law issues;
  • Contributes to the implementation of FAO’s Policy on Gender Equality, FAO’s Climate Change Strategy and other policies of the Organization, including through the above-mentioned areas of work;
  • Represents LEGN on various committees, ad hoc working groups and task forces, as required;
  • Promotes the work of LEGN and represents the Organization in meetings, conferences, seminars, webinars, etc.
  • Performs other duties as required.

Minimum Requirements

  • Advanced University degree in Law
  • Five years of relevant legal experience in the field of food and agriculture, natural resources or development law
  • Working knowledge of English, French or Spanish and limited knowledge of one of the other two or Russian, Arabic or Chinese


  • Results Focus
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Building Effective Relationships
  • Knowledge Sharing and Continuous Improvement

Technical/Functional Skills 

  • Work experience in more than one location or area of work, particularly in field positions is desirable
  • Extent and relevance of experience in legal and institutional aspects of sustainable food and agriculture and utilisation of natural resources (including land, water, fisheries and aquaculture, plants, animals, food, forestry, wildlife, environment and biodiversity), and related cross sectoral issues such as climate change and gender equality
  • Knowledge of and extent and relevance of experience in one or more areas of development law (agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food systems, etc.) and in public international law
  • Extent and relevance of experience in implementing technical assistance projects related to national and regional implementation of international normative and voluntary instruments and best practice including through policy and legislation
  • Extent and relevance of experience in conducting legal research and analysis involving considerable complexity, in writing clear and concise reports, and in preparing legal texts (legislative and regulatory instruments)
  • Extent and relevance of experience with international organizations, governments, academia or non-governmental organizations is considered a strong asset 
  • Working knowledge of English (for the post in Addis Abeba) and of French (for the post in Dakar) is desirable


  • All candidates should possess computer/word processing skills.
  • Candidates endorsed in the selection process for this vacancy announcement will be considered for the FAO Professional Employment Roster for a period of two years. The Roster is used to fill other similar positions at the same or lower grade, and in the same or another duty station.
  • FAO 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.


A competitive compensation and benefits package is offered. For information on UN salaries, allowances and benefits, click on the following link:

Other benefits, subject to eligibility, include:

  • Dependency allowances
  • Rental subsidy
  • Education grant for children
  • Home leave travel
  • 30 working days of  annual leave per year
  • Pension fund entitlements under the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund
  • International health insurance; optional life insurance
  • Disability protection

FAO encourages  a positive workplace culture to increase inclusivity and diversity within its workforce. FAO applies measures in which all staff members contribute equally and in full to the work and development of the Organization. This includes:  

  • elements of family-friendly policies
  • flexible working arrangements
  • standards of conduct.


  • To apply, visit the recruitment website at Jobs at FAO and complete your online profile. We strongly recommend that your profile is accurate, complete and includes your employment records, academic qualifications and language skills.
  • Candidates are requested to attach a letter of motivation to the online profile;
  • Once your profile is completed, please apply and submit your application;
  • Your application will be screened based on the information provided on your online profile;
  • Please note that FAO will only consider academic credentials or degrees obtained from an educational institution recognized in the IAU/UNESCO list;
  • Candidates may be requested to provide performance assessments and authorization to conduct verification checks of past and present work, character, education, military and police records to ascertain any and all information which may be pertinent to the employment qualifications;
  • Incomplete applications will not be considered;
  • Only applications received through the FAO recruitment portal will be considered;
  • Vacancies will be removed from the recruitment portal at 23:59 Central European Time (CET) on the deadline for applications date;
  • We encourage applicants to submit the application well before the deadline date.