Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons vacancy search engine

Principal Legal Officer (P-5)



Under the supervision of the Legal Adviser, the Principal Legal Officer performs the following functions:

1. Prepares and supervises the preparation of legal opinions on the interpretation and implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) for the policy-making organs of the OPCW, and provides oral or written advice to States Parties upon request and authorisation.

2. Prepares and supervises the preparation of legal opinions for other organisational units of the Technical Secretariat, and advises on matters relating to:

       - the interpretation and implementation of the CWC, including its Annexes, and the decisions of the policy-making organs;

       - relations with the host country and the implementation of the Headquarters Agreement;

       - administrative law, including on the preparation, interpretation and implementation of the Staff Regulations and Rules, Financial Regulations and Rules, administrative directives and other administrative issuances and internal legislation.

3. Reviews and advises (as requested) on reports of the Technical Secretariat for meetings of the policy-making organs.

4. Supervises the Office’s input and, if requested, participates, in the preparation and negotiation of international agreements including Facility Agreements, Privileges and Immunities Agreements, relationship agreements and other agreements or arrangements.

5. Prepares and reviews the work of other legal officers on complaints against the Organisation filed by staff members before internal bodies and the ILO Administrative Tribunal. In particular, prepares or supervises the preparation of the Organisation’s written submissions to appellate bodies. Advises on any other litigation against the Organisation. Advises on the conduct of investigations.

6. Supervises the performance of the Data Protection function situated in the Office.

7. Represents the Office of the Legal Adviser on internal advisory bodies at the request of the Legal Adviser or the Director-General.

8. Assists the Legal Adviser in general management and administration of the Office, including in the preparation of the Programme and Budget of the Office, compliance with the financial and other reporting requirements, performance appraisal, recruitment of staff. Organises and prioritizes the workload and provides general coordination and supervision of assignments of legal officers.

9. In the absence of the Legal Adviser, serve as the Acting Legal Adviser.

10. Performs other duties as required.

Education (Qualifications):


Advanced university degree in Law.



  • At least 10 years of progressively responsible experience in international organisations and/or government service, in the areas of International Law, Disarmament or Administrative Law;
  • Knowledge of the legal aspects of the United Nations common system, including the case law of international administrative tribunals;
  • Knowledge of the Chemical Weapons Convention would be an asset;
  • Experience in the UN common system or in the OPCW would be an asset.

Skills and Abilities (key competencies):

  • Professionalism: In-depth theoretical knowledge of international law and extensive experience in the practical application of International Law, including the Law of Treaties, the Law of International Organizations and International Administrative Law. Strong analytical skills and proficiency in legal research, and proven ability in applying legal expertise to broad range of highly complex and novel legal issues and problems and in developing innovative and creative solutions. Excellent skills in legal writing and expression and ability to independently prepare legal briefs, opinions, and a variety of legal instruments and related documents for direct submission to senior officials, where applicable.
  • 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.
  • Teamwork: Works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve organizational goals. Solicits input by genuinely valuing others’ ideas and expertise; is willing to learn from others. Places team agenda before personal agenda. Supports and acts in accordance with final group decision, even when such decisions may not entirely reflect own position. Shares credit for team accomplishments and accepts joint responsibility for team shortcomings. Has the ability to provide managerial leadership in overseeing work of more junior legal officers.
  • Leadership: Serves as a role model that other people want to follow. Empowers others to translate vision into results. Is proactive in developing strategies to accomplish objectives. Establishes and maintains relationships with a broad range of people to understand needs and gain support. Anticipates and resolves conflicts by pursuing mutually agreeable solutions. Drives for change and improvement rather than accept the status quo. Shows the courage to take unpopular stands.
  • Judgement/ Decision-making: Identifies the key issues in a complex situation, and comes to the heart of the problem quickly. Gathers relevant information before making a decision. Considers positive and negative impacts of decisions prior to making them, takes decisions with an eye to the impact on others and on the Organization and makes tough decisions when necessary. Proposes a course of action or makes a recommendation based on all available information. Checks assumptions against facts.
  • Tact, discretion and the ability to work harmoniously in a multi-cultural environment.
  • Planning and organization: demonstrated planning and organizational skills, especially ability to organize own work to handle multiple concurrent issues and activities and manage complex matters. Strong planning and organisational skills, and ability to work under pressure of time and urgent deadlines.

Other Skills:

Language Requirements: 

  • Fluency in written and spoken English is essential. A good working knowledge of one other official language of the OPCW (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish) is highly desirable.
  • Ability to conduct negotiations in English is essential. Ability to conduct negotiations in another official language of the OPCW would be an asset.