Legal Officer

Applications procedure
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    Tokyo, Japan
    UTC +9

    Organisational Unit: UNU Office of the Rector

    United Nations University objectives

    The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in research, postgraduate training and the dissemination of knowledge in furtherance of the purposes and principles of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States. The University functions as a think tank for the United Nations system, contributes to capacity building, particularly in developing countries, and serves as a platform for new and innovative ideas and dialogue.

    Office of the Rector

    The Office of the Rector supports the Rector in his capacity as the chief academic and administrative officer of UNU, and assists in executive management and coordination of the UNU system. This includes responsibilities for the University’s direction, organization, administration, and programme and institutional development. The Office provides an overall supporting role for governance and policy development within the UNU system, in particular through UNU’s governing body, the UNU Council (and its Executive Committee), as well as through advisory boards and committees of the UNU institutes and programmes and the Conference of Directors of UNU institutes and programmes (CONDIR). The Office of the Rector manages the legal affairs of the University with the support of legal advisors, as well as a limited number of central academic services relating to degree programme activities via the Academic Affairs sub-office.


    The Legal Officer reports to the Vice-Rector and Executive Officer and will have responsibility for preparing, reviewing and advising on a range of legal issues relating to the implementation of University legislation, including matters arising in connection with institutional development, as well as external funding and partnerships. The Legal Officer will also provide substantive support to the Office of the Rector and the University’s governing Council and subsidiary bodies and committees thereof, pre-, in- and post-session.

    Main duties

    The incumbent will be responsible for:

    • Drafting and/or reviewing a variety of legal documents, including contracts, agreements, policies, reports, memoranda, manuals and resolutions;
    • Studying legal questions arising out of the interpretation or application of the University Charter and relevant contracts, agreements, rules, policies, laws, regulations and international conventions;
    • Providing legal interpretations on a full range of issues regarding the University’s various internal legislation (Statutes, Policies, Rules of Procedure, etc.) including the protocols of the University’s governing Council and its subsidiary bodies and committees;
    • Assisting in the resolution of legal questions relating to the interpretation and application of University legislation and to disputes arising from its application;
    • The effective and efficient planning and organization of UNU’s governing Council meetings, ensuring that commitments to the governing Council are honoured and that necessary follow-up actions are taken;
    • Providing substantive secretariat support, including liaison support to the governing Council and its subsidiary bodies and committees, and preparation of background papers, briefs and reports proposed for consideration at sessions of the governing Council;
    • Advising the Executive Officer and UNU Rector in the conduct of Council sessions; and,
    • Performing any other duty in the area of competence as required.


    Advanced university degree (master’s degree or equivalent) in law with emphasis in the administrative and contractual dimensions of public international law. At least five years of relevant professional work experience in the relevant area of law gained in a legal department of an intergovernmental organization or national administration or by working for a law firm. A first-level university degree in law, combined with a minimum of four additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

    Other qualifications

    • An international background with experience in international/national civil service and detailed knowledge of the UN and of its functions and activities;
    • A proven record of effective and strong communication skills, particularly in regard to drafting in the English language;
    • The ability to interact with colleagues and others of diverse cultural backgrounds;
    • An interest in research and scholarly work; and,
    • Fluency in English and preferably one other official language of the United Nations; fluency in French would be an additional advantage.

    Applications from suitably qualified women candidates are particularly encouraged.


    The approximate net salary (free of tax) is about US$72,000 p.a. (single status) – US$85,000 p.a.  (with dependants) p.a. including post adjustment, which is subject to change.

    The post carries the standard set of UN entitlements/benefits, including participation in the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, the possibility of participation in a health insurance programme, education grant for eligible children, removal expenses and home leave.

    Additional information can be found at the UN Salaries, Allowances, Benefits and Job Classification website.  The Rector reserves the right to appoint a suitable candidate at a lower category.

    Duration of contract

    The period of initial contract would be for a one-year term with the possibility of renewal on a rolling fixed-term appointment basis, subject to requirements and satisfactory work performance. The mandatory retirement age in the United Nations is 65 years.

    Starting date

    1 June 2015.

  • Interested applicants should submit their applications, preferably by email (to ) and must include the following:

    • a cover letter setting out: (1) what are the motivations for applying for the post and (2) how the candidate’s qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position;
    • a completed and signed UNU Personal History (P.11) form. Please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organizations;
    • full curriculum vitae (with publications list); and
    • an indication of the reference number of the vacancy announcement (2015/UNU/HQ/RO/FTA/LO/08)
  • By Post:
    Vice-Rector and Executive Officer
    Office of the Rector
    United Nations University Headquarters,
    53-70, Jingumae 5-chome, Shibuya-ku,
    Tokyo 150-8925

    By Fax:
    +81 3 3499-2828

    By Email: