Legal Expert — UN Sanctions and Humanitarian Action Project

Applications procedure
Related Files
    Personnel Service Agreement (PSA)
    New York, USA
    UTC -4

    About UN University

    For the past four decades, United Nations University (UNU) has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on the pressing global problems of human survival, conflict prevention, development, and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 13 countries, UNU’s work spans the full breadth of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.

    UNU Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR)

    The UNU Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR) in New York is an independent think tank within the United Nations system. UNU-CPR combines research excellence with deep knowledge of the multilateral system to generate innovative solutions to current and future global public policy challenges. UNU-CPR is located in New York City, USA. For more information on UNU-CPR and its work, please visit

    UN Sanctions and Humanitarian Action Project

    UN sanctions are designed and applied with a variety of goals, notably countering terrorism, stemming nuclear proliferation, and preventing or resolving armed conflict. At times, using sanctions to pursue these goals can impede humanitarian actors’ access to funds, materials, or the people they aim to serve. While sanctions designers and state regulators have made great strides in their move towards more targeted measures, unforeseen complications have arisen in the last two decades.

    The UN Sanctions and Humanitarian Action Project aims to analyse the impact of UN sanctions on the ability of humanitarian actors to carry out their activities in contexts of armed conflict, and review States’ efforts to manage simultaneous compliance with their International Humanitarian Law obligations and their obligations to comply with UN sanctions. In the framework of this project, UNU will develop legal and policy materials, publish concept papers, organise several expert meetings and consultations for UN sanctions officials and humanitarian practitioners to discuss the central ideas of the study, and present the research findings in a final report.


    Under the supervision of a Senior Policy Advisor and Project Director, the successful candidate will contribute to the following tasks:

    • carry out legal and policy research related to the design of UN sanctions, their implementation by Member States, and their impact on humanitarian operations
    • organise, participate in, and conduct follow-up on expert meetings and consultations
    • produce and publish legal and policy concept papers on interrelated issues between UN sanctions and International Humanitarian Law
    • participate in the writing and publication of a final report to present research findings
    • contribute to the dissemination of the institute’s research results to the international community of policymakers and policy-opinion makers, in particular, the broader UN system
    • support ongoing projects on sanctions and related issues, notably by conducting legal research
    • conducting other work to support UNU-CPR, as required

    Qualifications and experience

    Required qualifications and experience include:

    • 3 years of work experience
    • postgraduate degree (master’s degree or equivalent) in public international law is required, preferably with a specialisation in the law of international organisations and/or international humanitarian law
    • thorough knowledge of the UN sanctions system and related legal issues is required; experience working with the UN sanctions structure is desirable
    • thorough knowledge of International Humanitarian Law and related legal fields is required; experience working with international humanitarian organisations is desirable
    • experience in conducting independent research is required; experience working with think tanks and among academic circles is desirable
    • strong legal research, writing, and presentation skills are required; experience disseminating research through high-level briefings with UN Member States, senior policymakers, and academics is desirable
    • the ability to work independently and within a team, in a multicultural environment with sensitivity to diversity
    • experience integrating gender considerations in research
    • fluency in both oral and written English and French

    UNU is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities to apply and become part of the organisation.

    UNU has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNU, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination.


    Remuneration will be commensurate with the qualifications and experience of the successful candidate.

    Duration of contract

    The legal expert will be based at UNU-CPR in New York on a full-time basis once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted for a period of 12 months. Initially, the successful candidate may work remotely.

    The successful candidate will be employed under a Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract and will not hold international civil servant status, nor is he/she a “staff member” as defined in the United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations.

    Starting date

    June 2020.

  • Interested applicants should submit their applications by e-mail to by 31 May 2020. Applications must include the following:

    • a completed and signed UNU Personal History (P.11) form; please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations
    • a cover letter setting out how the qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position and the specific contributions you can make to UNU
    • an indication of the reference number of the vacancy announcement 2020/UNU/CPR/PSA/LE/UNSHAP/30
    • an updated curriculum vitae
    • full contact information of three (3) references (e-mail, phone number, and relationship)