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The Legal Office provides advice on all legal matters arising within UN Geneva and the offices of United Nations funds and programmes in Geneva, in close cooperation with the Office of Legal Affairs at UN Headquarters.

Legal Services

The Senior Legal Adviser:

  • provides advice to the Director-General of UNOG, in his/her capacity as the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General in Geneva, on legal questions concerning his activities, contacts and statements,
  • represents the Director-General in various legal meetings.

The Legal Office also provides advice to, and cooperates with, all other services of the Office of the Director-General (i.e. the Chef de Cabinet, the Political Affairs and Partnerships Section, the NGO Liaison Unit and the Protocol and Liaison Service).

The Legal Office (LO):

  • assumes central responsibility in dealing with the Permanent Mission of Switzerland on all issues concerning the status of the United Nations and its staff in Geneva,
  • in close consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs in New York, LO deals with all requests emanating from the Swiss authorities for the waiver of immunity of the Organization and of Senior staff members,
  • represents the United Nations in court cases and external litigation.

The Senior Legal Adviser assists with the interpretation and implementation of the Host Country Agreement, with emphasis on privileges and immunities, residence permits (cartes de légitimation, visas), tax questions and status determination issues.

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LO also provides advice to:

  • the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE),
  • the Geneva Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),
  • the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR)
  • the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR),
  • the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR),
  • the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)

On, inter alia, the conclusion of bilateral agreements covering meetings, seminars and other events held away from Geneva, and procedural aspects of their respective governing bodies.

On an ad hoc basis, the Senior Legal Adviser coordinates with the Legal Advisers of Geneva-based international organizations on matters of common interest.

The Senior Legal Adviser is an ex officio member of various panels and monitoring bodies at UNOG.

LO works in close cooperation with the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) at Headquarters on legal matters requiring specialized advice and/or a position from the Legal Counsel of the United Nations or the Secretary-General’s approval. These include, inter alia:

  • requests for waiver of immunity,
  • treaty actions,
  • OLA position on matters of system-wide interest.

ILS is convened on an annual basis within the framework of the International Law Commission. As Director of the International Law Seminar (ILS), the Senior Legal Adviser is responsible for fund-raising, selecting participants, organizing the three-week programme and daily follow-up of the activities of participants. This also includes budget management of the ILS Trust Fund and related certifying officer responsibilities. This Trust Fund should provide fellowships to a number of participants in the Seminar from developed countries, through voluntary contributions from Governments.

The Legal Office manages the budget administration of the International Law Commission and provides day-to-day logistical assistance to the members and the secretariat of the ILC, with regard to travel, daily subsistence allowance, etc.