Legal Officer, Geneva, Switzerland At UNEP – United Nations Environment Programme

Closing date: Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Posting Title: LEGAL OFFICER, P4 (Temporary Job Opening)


Department/Office: United Nations Environment Programme

Duty Station: GENEVA

Posting Period: 09 March 2023 – 22 March 2023

Job Opening Number: 23-Legal Affairs-UNEP-203299-J-Geneva (X)

United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity

Organisational Setting and ReportingThe United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 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. CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between states. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival ( The CITES Secretariat is administered by UNEP and is located in Geneva, Switzerland. This post is located in the Legal Unit, CITES Secretariat at the Geneva duty station. Under the general supervision of the Chief of Legal Unit, the incumbent is responsible for the provision of authoritative legal advice to all services within the Secretariat, Parties to the Convention, the regulated community and strategic partners. The incumbent works on a range of designated CITES legal and compliance issues, leads the implementation of the Compliance Assistance Programme, National legislation project, and other targeted capacity-building on legal and regulatory issues as well as leading or supporting implementation of relevant Resolutions and Decisions adopted by the Conference of the Parties, and compliance measures recommended by the Standing Committee.


1. Serves as a lead officer, and independently handles a wide range of multi-discipline and complex legal matters involving CITES Resolutions and Decisions and their interpretation in the context of international, environmental, trade, and Customs law, to ensure that application of CITES regulations and related instruments is in conformity with these fields of law. a) Provides legal advice on a diverse range of CITES substantive questions that are of considerable complexity, and also on occasion on matters related to administration and management, institutions support, procurement and contracts, and other operational matters, separately administered programs and funds, disciplinary investigations, and investigations and prosecutions relative to alleged wildlife offenses and crimes, etc; b) Performs extensive legal research and analysis and prepares legal opinions, studies, briefs, reports, and correspondence on CITES related issues; provides legal advice to all CITES services and to CITES governing bodies, working groups, UN task forces, etc; c) Supports the CITES permanent committees and working groups on legal and regulatory matters undertaking relevant analyses, preparing background documents, and performing other tasks at the request of the committee or working group chairs; d) Reviews the legal submissions and draft texts of revised or new resolutions and decisions, prepared by other members of the Secretariat; e) Prepares legal analyzes and assess compliance as necessary in the course of CITES related communications, missions and recommendations under Article XIII and relevant Resolutions and Decisions of the CITES Conference of the Parties; and f) Represents CITES in international meetings, conferences, seminars, etc. with a focus on legal, compliance, or trade policy matters. 2. Prepares and provides capacity-building on all legal and regulatory aspects of the implementation of the Convention and contributes to the implementation of specific capacity-building programmes and projects. a) Organizes and runs capacity-building and training activities both through regional/sub-regional workshops and through online training for one or more Parties requesting support; b) Leads the development of, and contributes to the development of capacity-building and guidance materials, including new online training tools and materials of the Secretariat and those of external partners; c) Coordinates the implementation of the Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP), develop criteria for selection of Parties, conduct analyses, consults with external partners, and provides targeted compliance assistance support to selected Parties under the CAP; d) Contributes to review and design of new, or new applications of CITES-related legal instruments, policy, guidelines, model laws, legislation plans, etc; e) Prepares technical guidance and information material (leaflets, videos, etc.) on the Convention and on relevant legal and regulatory matters under the Convention; f) Provides technical input and materials related to training activities undertaken by other units; 3. Oversees and monitors the implementation of the national legislation project a) Review and analyses draft and final legislative instruments submitted by Parties with legislation in Category 2 or 3; b) Liaise with Parties on the identified gaps and advice on how to best address them; c) Provide technical and financial support to such Parties and monitor the implementation of such agreements; d) Coordinates and cooperates with bilateral and international partners in providing support and capacity building to Parties; e) Coordinates and direct teams of other legal consultants, advisers, and interns dealing with significant problems as required, and/or mentors and supervises the work of junior staff on specific projects. 4. Performs other duties as assigned.

CompetenciesProfessionalism: Ability to apply legal expertise to analyzing a diverse range of complex and unusual legal issues and problems and in developing innovative and creative solutions. Strong analytical skills and ability to conduct comprehensive legal research on a range of issues, including those of a unique and/or complex nature; proficiency in legal writing and expression and ability to prepare legal briefs, opinions, or legal submissions/motions, and a variety of legal instruments and related documents. 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 the audience. Demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed. Planning and 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. Accountability: Takes ownership of all responsibilities and honors commitments. Delivers outputs for which one has responsibility within prescribed time, cost and quality standards. Operates in compliance with organizational regulations and rules. Supports subordinates, provides oversight and takes responsibility for delegated assignments. Takes personal responsibility for his/her own shortcomings and those of the work unit, where applicable.

EducationAn advanced university degree (Master’s or Doctorate degree, or equivalent) in Law, with specialization in either in international law, environmental or trade law is required. A first-level degree (Bachelor’s degree or equivalent) in the specified fields of studies with two additional years of relevant work experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Work ExperienceA minimum of seven (7) years of progressively responsible experience, five (5) of which should be in an international environment at the international level, preferably with some experience in developing countries, in law, legal analysis, research and writing is required. Experience in CITES, Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA’s) and its Governing bodies and its processes, mandates, policies and guidelines is required. Knowledge of the UN system is desirable. Practical experience with CITES or similar Organisations’ legal matters and knowledge of its compliance processes is desirable.

LanguagesEnglish, Spanish and French are the working languages of the CITES Secretariat. For the position advertised, fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another CITES official language is desirable. NOTE: ”Fluency” equals a rating of ”fluent” in all four areas (read, write, speak, understand) and ”Knowledge of” equals a rating of ”confident” in two of the four areas.

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

Special Notice

  •  This is a temporarily position for 6 months. If the selected candidate is a staff member from the United Nations Secretariat, the selection will be administered as a temporary assignment.
  •  While this temporary assignment may provide the successful applicant with an opportunity to gain new work experience, the selection for this position is for a limited period and has no bearing on the future incumbency of the post.
  •  Subject to the funding source of the position, the eligibility for this temporary job opening may be limited to candidates based at the duty station. 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 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. Internal Applicants – When completing the Candidate Profile form, ensure ALL fields, ALL professional experience and contact information are completed and up to date. This information is the basis for the hiring manager to assess your eligibility and suitability for the position and to contact you. Individual Contractors and Consultants who have worked within the UN Secretariat in the last six months, irrespective of the administering entity, are ineligible to apply for or be appointed to any professional and higher temporary or fixed-term positions, within six months of the end of their current or most recent service. For such positions, at least six months need to have elapsed between the end of a consultancy or individual contract and the time of application and consideration for an appointment as a staff member under the Staff Rules and Regulations of the United Nations. 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. On-line applications will be acknowledged where an email address has been provided. 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. If you do not receive an e-mail acknowledgement within 24 hours of submission, your application may not have been received. If the problem persists, please seek technical assistance through the Inspira “Contact Us” link.

United Nations ConsiderationsAccording 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. Job openings advertised on the Careers Portal will be removed at 11:59 p.m. (New York time) on the deadline date.



April 2024