Head of Policy and Legal Support Unit, P5, Brussels

Job Title: Head of Policy and Legal Support Unit, P5, Brussels

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

Organizational Setting and Work Relationships

The Policy and Legal Support Unit (PLSU) is responsible for providing policy, legal and field support to Multi-Country and Country offices located in the European Union (plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland). The Head of PLS Unit is supervised by the Bureau Director.
The incumbent is responsibility for providing substantive legal, policy and protection guidance, to UNHCR multi-country and country offices in Northern, Western, Central and Southern (NWCS¿) Europe, and is also responsible for UNHCR’s relations with European Union institutions on all matters concerning the internal and external dimensions of EU asylum policy. The Head of Unit works closely with other relevant stakeholders, mainly in the areas of Donor Relations/Global Issues Strategic Communications and Advocacy, the Division of International Protection and other entities of UNHCR.
The Head of PLSU maintains a broad network of senior-level contacts within the European Union institutions (Commission, Council, Parliament and specialised Agencies), related inter-governmental organisations and groups, and with representatives of European governments and NGOs in Brussels as well as in European capitals, in close coordination with country and multi-country representations.
The incumbent supervises a diverse team of international and local staff based in different geographical locations.
The Head of PLSU advises the Bureau Director, the Deputy Director, and other Bureaux and HQ units on positions and strategies to be adopted by UNHCR in the EU , including specifically on questions connected with asylum, migration and protection policy and also statelessness issues in the EU. The incumbent provides guidance to the Multi-Country and Country Representations as appropriate, on the full range of legal, policy, and institutional matters arising in the region.
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.


  • Foster the inclusion of UNHCR¿s international protection priorities and positions in key European Union decisions, policies, laws and initiatives.
  • Analyse, interpret and provide guidance and advice in relation to European Union and wider legislative, political and operational developments at the EU level and in Northern, Western, Central and Southern European (NCWS) countries. This analysis and guidance focuses notably on development of the EU¿s Common European Asylum System and its complex array of legislation and practical cooperation instruments, the implementation of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and associated work programmes, including protection concerns inside and outside the EU, and statelessness issues.
  • Develop, formulate and lead the implementation of UNHCR strategy, positions and interventions in order to influence EU asylum policies and practices in a manner consistent with UNHCR’s mandate and objectives.
  • Maintain and continue to develop a broad network of senior-level contacts within the European Union institutions (Commission, Council, Parliament and specialised Agencies).
  • Liaise with other Bureaux and the Division of International Protection in relation to EU asylum and migration issues.
  • Provide expeditious and comprehensive support to UNHCR Multi-Country and Country Representations within the Area of Responsibility (AoR).
  • Coordinate, direct and supervise UNHCR’s judicial engagement work carried out in Europe, through the interpretation and application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the full range of acquis communautaire legal instruments; leading UNHCR¿s third party interventions at the level of the EU Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights.
  • Provide strategic policy guidance to UNHCR’s strategic advocacy and communications work in the EU.
  • Update and lead the provision of training programmes on EU institutions and on EU and European law and protection policy matters for UNHCR staff, in EU member states and associated countries.
  • Represent and speak for UNHCR on EU asylum and related matters through public presentations, oral and written, to a range of audiences, including academia and leading European policy makers.
  • Coordinate with the Resource Management Unit on programme management, planning and relevant administrative matters.
  • Provide support to relevant stakeholders on issues related to EU accession process, re-admission agreements, the Stabilisation & Association Agreement process, New Neighbourhood associated issues and all other cross cutting policy issues that arise.
  • 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; Political Science; or other relevant field.
(Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Certificates and/or Licenses
Not specified

Relevant Job Experience
Knowledge of the European Union¿s Asylum Acquis, Human Rights Law and jurisprudence of the European Court. Excellent record of team management and leadership, representation, networking and advocacy skills, proven ethical practices and high level of inter-personal and emotional intelligence skills.

Experience of involvement in litigation or court work. Experience in the refugee/ humanitarian area

How to apply:

For a full job description and to apply, interested candidates are requested to visit the UNHCR career page at www.unhcr.org/careers – click on the Vacancies tab and enter job ID 31398.

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).