Chief of Protection Policy and Legal Advice Section, P5, Geneva

Job Title: Chief of Protection Policy and Legal Advice Section, P5, Geneva

Country: Switzerland
Organization: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Closing date: 23 Nov 2021

Organizational Setting and Work Relationships

The Chief of Protection Policy and Legal Advice Section supervises UNHCR¿s legal and policy development, including provision of guidance, advice and support to UNHCR, including senior Management, Bureau, Operations and specialist Divisions, as well as external interlocutors, including States and other stakeholders. S/he leads and oversees work on development of legal guidance and provision of legal advice, which plays a pivotal role in supporting the fulfilment of UNHCR¿s mandate responsibility to supervise the implementation of international instruments for the protection of refugees (UNHCR Statute 1950, Article 8; 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Articles 35-36 and 1967 Protocol, Article II), in particular the production of guidance on the interpretation of international refugee law and other branches of law relevant to the exercise of refugees¿ rights.
S/he supervises a team of P4 and P3 colleagues working in diverse areas of law and policy, including encompassing Refugee Law, Asylum and Migration, Human Rights (Liaison with UN Human Rights Mechanisms), Judicial Engagement and Climate Change and Disaster Displacement. S/he is responsible for ensuring timely, accurate and practical support and advice across UNHCR, including in response to urgent queries with short deadlines and significant institutional and individual interests and rights at stake.
Working under the supervision of the Deputy Director of DIP, he/she works closely with other colleagues addressing legal questions in DIP, regional bureau, specialist divisions and operations, as well as external partners in a wide range of legal entities. S/he is called upon to provide advice and support directly to Representatives, Directors, the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection and the High Commissioner where required.

All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core, functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR¿s core values of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity.


  • Effectively and productively lead, supervise and ensure the effective performance of the Protection Policy and Legal Advice Section in the Division of International Protection.
  • Lead and supervise the development and issuance of UNHCR policy and legal guidance on questions of interpretation and application of international, and where relevant, regional and national refugee law, as well as other branches of law relevant to the rights of persons of concern to UNHCR; as well as asylum and migration, human rights, judicial engagement and displacement in the context of disasters and climate change.
  • Coordinate and communicate effectively with senior protection personnel throughout the organization, including Bureau Protection Heads, Chiefs of Section in specialised divisions, Representatives and Senior Management as relevant.
  • Effectively manage resources, including staffing in the Protection Policy and Legal Advice Section.
  • Provide prompt, principled and accurate guidance and advice on international refugee law and other relevant branches of law, State practice and related policy and practical issues.
  • Engage effectively with external partners and other stakeholders, including State and non-State actors on issues related to legal and policy questions relevant to the rights of persons of concern to UNHCR.
  • Organize and take part in expert and other meetings on relevant issues, including preparation of relevant background materials, representing and speaking for PPLA, DIP and/or UNHCR in relevant fora.
  • Take part in and provide legal, practical and policy advice in relation to the development of UNHCR positions, tools, processes and outputs, including public messaging, internal data gathering, analysis and reporting processes.
  • Drafting of and contribution to key legal and policy-related texts within and for UNHCR.
  • Act as OIC for the Policy and Law Service in the absence of the Deputy Director.
  • Perform other related duties as required.

Minimum Qualifications
Education & Professional Work Experience
Years of Experience / Degree Level
For P5 – 12 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 11 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 10 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree

Field(s) of Education
*Law, International Law, Refugee Law, Human Rights Law
or other relevant field.
(Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk
are essential)

Certificates and/or Licenses
Law, International Law, Bar Examination, Legal Practice
(Certificates and Licenses marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Relevant Job Experience
At least 12 years of relevant professional work experience, at least ten years of which were in an international organisation advising governments and other organisations and entities on international human rights and refugee law issues, or in exercising rights of audience before national or regional courts, including in relation to refugee law and/or refugees¿ rights, and/or as a qualified court advocate, law clerk, judges’ associate or barrister, in either a common law or civil law jurisdiction, or having represented asylum-seekers/refugees or stateless persons for a legal aid or non-governmental organisation.
Experience of engagement and established networks with State and non-State legal partners. An established record of research and publications in the refugee law area, including recognised legal journals and/or reference works. Experience of working to high standards and tight deadlines in demanding professional environments.

Fluency in French and other UN working or other languages in addition to English.

How to apply:

For a full job description and to apply, interested candidates are requested to visit the UNHCR career page at – click on the Vacancies tab and enter job ID 31413.

The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Please note that UNHCR does not charge a fee at any stage of its recruitment process (application, interview, meeting, travelling, processing, training or any other fees).

Closing Date

Please note that the closing date is Tuesday 23 November 2021 (midnight Geneva time).