Legal Officer (Water Convention)
Org. Setting and Reporting
This position is located in the Transboundary Cooperation Section of the Environment Division of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) in Geneva. The incumbent reports to the manager of the Water Unit and Secretary to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention).
UNECE Environment Division contributes to the overall objectives and mandate of UNECE as a multilateral platform facilitating greater economic integration and cooperation among its member States, and to the broad aim of the Environment subprogramme to safeguard the environment and human health, and to promote sustainable development in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Legal Officer will be responsible for the following duties:
Provides legal support and advice to countries in the process of accession to the Water Convention, primarily in countries of francophone Africa but also in other United Nations Member States, as needed, and supports the implementation of the Convention in those countries by:
• Providing legal support to countries in the process of accession through extensive legal research and analysis;
• Preparing studies, comparative studies, memorandums, briefs, interpretative notes, background papers, legislative texts, commentaries to those texts and reports in support of accession process and implementation;
• Directing, in cooperation with the national water authorities, the achievement of strategic objectives related to accession process and the observance of timelines for various legal steps of accession process (accession road maps);
• Preparing and delivering substantive and strategic presentations during the legal technical assistance and capacity-building activities tailored to specific situations in countries in the process of accession;
• Planning and implementing national and (sub)regional legal and technical assistance and capacity-building activities focused on legal requirements of the Water Convention and transboundary water cooperation and participating in relevant (sub)regional events organized by partner organizations;
• Managing the administrative and financial aspects of programmes of legal and technical assistance and capacity-building activities, in particular arranging consultancy contracts, grant agreements and other needed services to carry out activities, identifying and developing partnerships with donors, drafting project proposals, developing budgets and following up their implementation, producing project reports to donors and representing UNECE in relevant meetings;
• Maintaining communication with the Office of Legal Affairs and the UN Treaty Section;
• Servicing or assisting in servicing intergovernmental meetings, conferences, workshops, committees, task forces, expert groups and other bodies, including preparation of background materials, summaries of issues and views of delegations, meeting reports, etc.
Supports the secretariat’s work in the area of international water law, with a focus on countries outside the UNECE region by:
• Preparing or assisting in the preparation of agreements with governments, NGOs and other public and private entities, as well as in the negotiations and handling international water law matters;
• Participating in international events, publications and processes on international water law;
• Providing legal opinions/advice on a wide range of international water law issues in response to written inquiries received by the secretariat on the interpretation and application of the Water Convention in the context of other international water law instruments;
• Preparing publications and other awareness raising materials on international water law and the Convention, especially in the area of developing transboundary water agreements.
Provides legal support to the conclusion of transboundary water agreements and establishment of joint bodies for transboundary water cooperation by:
• Identifying best practices and supporting the development of soft-law instruments on the conclusion of transboundary water agreements and establishment of joint bodies;
• Providing legal advice on the drafts of transboundary water agreements and their correspondence to the requirements of the Convention;
• Providing legal advice on the drafts of charters or statutes of joint bodies for transboundary water cooperation and their correspondence to the requirements of the Convention;
• Providing legal advice on the need for adapting existing transboundary water agreements to the requirements of the Convention.
Develops training and communication material to support countries interested in becoming Parties to the Water Convention by:
• Developing training material in the field of international water law;
• Preparing or assisting with the preparation of international water law seminars and symposia, lecture on various legal issues at such events;
• Developing communication material (brochures, road maps, publications and press releases) related to accession processes;
• Providing input to other communication material under the Convention (newsletter, website, social media).
Develops strategic proposals related to the global opening of the Water Convention and provides input to other areas of work under the Convention by:
• Formulating strategic and technical proposals as a basis for future activities, in particular on the globalization of the Water Convention;
• Contributing substantively to development of various other areas of work that enhance transboundary water cooperation in countries outside the UNECE region.
•Professionalism: Knowledge of, and ability to apply, legal principles, concepts and procedures and terminology for review, examination, and processing of a range of legal documents related to international environmental law. Knowledge of various legal research sources, including electronic, and ability to conduct research and analyze information on a wide range of legal issues. Ability to interpret and apply legislative instruments, develop and present results, recommendations, and opinions clearly and concisely. Ability to draft legal papers and work under pressure. Ability to apply good legal judgment in the context of assignments given. Shows pride in work and in achievements; demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter; is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; is motivated by professional rather than personal concerns; shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remains calm in stressful situations. Takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work.
•Communication: Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; listens to others, correctly interprets messages from others and responds appropriately; asks questions to clarify, and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; tailors language, tone, style and format to match audience; demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed.
•Planning & Organizing: Develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies; identifies priority activities and assignments; adjusts priorities as required; allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work; foresees risks and allows for contingencies when planning; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary; uses time efficiently.
Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent degree) in law is required. A first-level university degree in law in combination with two additional years of qualifying work experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.
A minimum of five (5) years of progressively responsible experience in law, including legal analysis, research and writing is required.
Out of the five (5) years, at least three (3) years of experience in international environmental law, is required.
Experience in working with countries of Africa in the areas of international environmental law or transboundary water cooperation is required.
Experience in developing and carrying out training or capacity building activities is desirable.
Experience in servicing intergovernmental meetings is desirable.
Experience in advising Member States on the development of transboundary water agreements is desirable.
English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For the position advertised, fluency in English and French is required.
Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise which will be followed by competency-based interview.
This is a project post. Appointment or assignment against this position is for an initial period of one year.
The renewal is thereof subject to the availability of the post or funds, budgetary approval or extension of the mandate.
At the United Nations, the paramount consideration in the recruitment and employment of staff is the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, with due regard to geographic diversity. All employment decisions are made on the basis of qualifications and organizational needs. The United Nations is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment of mutual respect. The United Nations recruits and employs staff regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds or disabilities. Reasonable accommodation for applicants with disabilities may be provided to support participation in the recruitment process when requested and indicated in the application.
The United Nations Secretariat is committed to achieving 50/50 gender balance and geographical diversity in its staff. Female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.
Pursuant to section 7.11 of ST/AI/2012/2/Rev.1, candidates recruited through the young professionals programme who have not served for a minimum of two years in the position of their initial assignment are not eligible to apply to this position.
United Nations Considerations
According to article 101, paragraph 3, of the Charter of the United Nations, the paramount consideration in the employment of the staff is the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity. Candidates will not be considered for employment with the United Nations if they have committed violations of international human rights law, violations of international humanitarian law, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, or sexual harassment, or if there are reasonable grounds to believe that they have been involved in the commission of any of these acts. The term “sexual exploitation” means any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another. The term “sexual abuse” means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. The term “sexual harassment” means any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation, when such conduct interferes with work, is made a condition of employment or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, and when the gravity of the conduct warrants the termination of the perpetrator’s working relationship. Candidates who have committed crimes other than minor traffic offences may not be considered for employment.
Due regard will be paid to the importance of recruiting the staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible. The United Nations places no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs. The United Nations Secretariat is a non-smoking environment.
The paramount consideration in the appointment, transfer, or promotion of staff shall be the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity. By accepting an offer of appointment, United Nations staff members are subject to the authority of the Secretary-General and assignment by him or her to any activities or offices of the United Nations in accordance with staff regulation 1.2 (c). In this context, all internationally recruited staff members shall be required to move periodically to discharge new functions within or across duty stations under conditions established by the Secretary-General.
Applicants are urged to follow carefully all instructions available in the online recruitment platform, inspira. For more detailed guidance, applicants may refer to the Manual for the Applicant, which can be accessed by clicking on “Manuals” hyper-link on the upper right side of the inspira account-holder homepage.
The evaluation of applicants will be conducted on the basis of the information submitted in the application according to the evaluation criteria of the job opening and the applicable internal legislations of the United Nations including the Charter of the United Nations, resolutions of the General Assembly, the Staff Regulations and Rules, administrative issuances and guidelines. Applicants must provide complete and accurate information pertaining to their personal profile and qualifications according to the instructions provided in inspira to be considered for the current job opening. No amendment, addition, deletion, revision or modification shall be made to applications that have been submitted. Candidates under serious consideration for selection will be subject to reference checks to verify the information provided in the application.
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