Legal Officer

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy

Skill Required:, Policy/ Advocacy and Campaign
Preferred Experience: 
5 years
Closing Date for Applications: 
3rd May, 2019

Job Description

Organizational Setting

The Office of the Legal Counsel 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 on a sound legal basis.

The position is located in the General Legal Affairs Service (LEGA). The Service provides advice to, and acts on behalf of, the Organization on legal matters. Specifically, it advises the Organization's technical and administrative departments, regional, sub-regional and field offices, and its Governing Bodies, on legal matters, including constitutional questions, the drafting of international treaties, the legal aspects of relations with the host government, with other governments and with international organizations, as well as specific legal aspects of personnel matters, including the interpretation and application of the Organization’s internal rules and international administrative law. It represents FAO in judicial proceedings and in settlements of disputes and, in particular, in handling appeals cases before the competent administrative tribunals. It services the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters (CCLM).

Reporting Lines: The Legal Officer reports to the Legal Counsel.

Technical Focus: International law and law of international organizations, including international administrative law.

Key Results: The provision of legal advice on questions pertaining to the Organization’s mandate.

Key Functions

  • Conducts extensive legal research and analyses questions relating to international, public, private and administrative law, involving, inter alia, the application and interpretation of FAO Basic Texts, and the internal rules of the Organization, privileges and immunities, institutional questions, treaty law and practice, procurement and contract law, and issues relating to the FAO Governing and Statutory Bodies;
  • Undertakes extensive review of legal documents, instruments and other material, and drafts legal opinions, advice, and communications on matters falling within the above areas of law, as well as documents subject to review by Governing and Statutory bodies of the Organization or required for meetings convened or serviced by the Organization;
  • Reviews complaints lodged by staff members with the ILO Administrative Tribunal and prepares the pleadings for the Organization;
  • Participates, as required, in working groups, meetings, seminars and conferences;
  • Performs other duties as required.

Minimum Requirements

  • Advanced University degree in Law.
  • Five years of relevant legal experience in public international law, law of international organizations, international administrative law and contract 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 public international law, law of international organizations, international administrative law and contract law, preferably gained in an international setting.
  • Ability to carry out legal research and analysis.
  • Extent and relevance of experience in drafting, reviewing and advising on legal texts and issues, including on matters involving considerable complexity.
  • Extent and relevance of experience in provision of legal advice on questions pertaining to the operation of FAO, its Governing and Statutory bodies and its Members, or in other UN System organizations.
  • Admission to practice in a national jurisdiction an advantage.


  • 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.


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.


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