Senior Legal Officer

United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)

Geneva, , CH

Org. Setting and Reporting

The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action. The post is located in the Governance Branch of the Secretariat of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, in Geneva duty station. 

Under the overall supervision of the Chief of Branch and guidance of the Secretariat’s Executive Office, the incumbent has the following responsibilities:


1.Head the Legal and Policy Unit (LPU) of the Governance Branch: Manage and supervise the financial resources and staff of the LPU in areas of programmatic competence: legal, policy, strategic, governance, international cooperation and partnerships matters; 
2. Prepare and implement annual and long term objectives and plans towards ensuring the provision of high quality legal and governance advice and support to Parties, the Secretariat and other stakeholders;
3.Direct and coordinate the legal and policy work of the Secretariat pertaining to the control of the international trade of covered chemicals and wastes and to preventing and combating illegal traffic and trade, assisting Parties in the identification of cases of illegal traffic, providing advice to the Executive Office on legally complex and politically sensitive matters, cooperating with Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), regional and international organizations and other entities, and providing technical assistance to Parties. 
4.Provide authoritative legal and governance advice and support to the Secretariat, Convention bodies, Parties and other stakeholders on matters pertaining to the interpretation, implementation and further development of the conventions and to international law, in particular treaty law and international environmental law, including on a range of highly complex and sensitive issues;
5.Serve as legal advisor to the meetings of the conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions and the Open-Working Group of the Basel Convention by advising on procedural and substantive matters, advising on the governance arrangements for the meetings, reviewing credentials, overseeing the election of officers and members of bodies, clearing meeting documents and decisions; guide the work of a legal officer serving as legal advisor to the meetings of other subsidiary bodies under the conventions;
6.Liaise with the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs on legal matters under the conventions of relevance to the United Nations and the application of United Nations rules, procedures and practices;
7.Monitor trends in international law and development in relevant international processes and identify their implications for the conventions;
8.Liaise with relevant global and regional conventions secretariats, in particular MEAs, UN Environment, FAO and other relevant international organizations on key legal and governance issues of relevance to the conventions, and represent the Secretariat in their meetings and processes;
9.Direct and coordinate the Secretariat support to the Basel Convention Implementation and Compliance Committee including governance matters and on specific submissions and the review of general issues of implementation and compliance; 
10.Provide support to Parties in the negotiations of compliance procedures and mechanisms under the Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, 
11.Direct, coordinate and oversee, as appropriate, the implementation of the activities of the programme of work pertaining to the interpretation, effectiveness and further development of the conventions, including the synergies arrangements between the conventions;
12.Oversee the formulation and implementation of the activities of the programme of work pertaining to national legal and institutional frameworks implementing the conventions, including provision of a legal advisory service to Parties and other stakeholders and technical assistance to Parties;
13.Direct and oversee the formulation of a policy and implementation of the activities of the programme of work pertaining to international cooperation and strategic partnerships with key partners of strategic importance to achieving the objectives of the conventions such as other MEAs, UN Environment, FAO, UN DESA and other IGOs.
14.Perform any other duties as assigned by the Executive Office or the Chief of the Governance Branch.


Professionalism: Knowledge and understanding of theories, concepts and approaches relevant to provision of legal and governance advice to senior management and governing bodies of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), compliance and enforcement matters, international cooperation and strategic partnerships. Ability to identify issues, analyze and participate in the resolution of issues/problems. Ability to apply judgment in the context of assignments given, plan own work and manage conflicting priorities. Ability to apply UN rules, regulations, policies and guidelines in work situations. 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.

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

Leadership: Serves as a role model that other people want to follow; Empowers others to translate vision into results; Is proactive in developing strategies to accomplish objectives; Establishes and maintains relationships with a broad range of people to understand needs and gain support; Anticipates and resolves conflicts by pursuing mutually agreeable solutions; Drives for change and improvement; does not accept the status quo; Shows the courage to take unpopular stands.


Advanced university degree (Master’s or equivalent) in law, with specialized knowledge in international environmental law or a closely related field is required. A first-level university in combination with two additional years of relevant work experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Work Experience

A minimum of ten years of progressively responsible experience in the field of environmental law, of which at least six in an international legal context, with demonstrated knowledge and practical experience in treaty law and/or in the provision of legal advice to governing bodies of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), experience in research, analysis and writing is required. Experience in the United Nations is desirable.


English and French are the working languages of the Secretariat. For the position advertised, fluency in English (both oral and written) is required. Working knowledge of another UN language is desirable.


Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise which may be followed by competency-based interview.

Special Notice

Appointment against this post is for an initial period of one year and may be subject to extension. Staff members are subject to the authority of the Secretary-General and to assignment by him or her. In this context, all staff are expected to move periodically to new functions in their careers in accordance with established rules and procedures. The United Nations as a Secretariat is committed to achieving the 50/50 gender balance in its staff. Female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply for this position. All applicants are strongly encouraged to apply on-line as soon as possible after the job opening has been posted and well before the deadline stated in the job opening. On-line applications will be acknowledged where an email address has been provided. If you do not receive an email acknowledgement within 24 hours of submission, your application may not have been received. If the problem persists, please seek technical assistance through the Inspira “Need Help?” link.