Associate Legal Officer, P2, Panama At UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Organizational Setting and Work Relationships

The Associate Legal Officer is a member of the protection or legal team either at Headquarters (within the Division of International Protection or in a Regional Bureau), or in a Country or Sub-Office. He/she may report to the (Senior) Protection or (Senior) Legal Officer, Head of Sub-Office or to the Assistant Representative for Protection. In smaller Offices, the post may report directly to the Representative. The incumbent may have direct supervisory responsibility for protection or legal staff who may include community services, registration, resettlement and education. The Associate Legal Officer is relied upon by the Office to coordinate quality, timely and effective protection responses to the needs of populations of concern (POC). Another important function of the position is to ensure that POC are involved with the Office in making decisions that affect them, whether in accessing their rights or in identifying appropriate solutions to their problems. To achieve this, the incumbent will need to build and maintain effective interfaces with communities of concern, authorities, protection and assistance partners as well as a broader network of stakeholders who can contribute to enhancing protection.

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.


– Monitor the development of law and doctrine.

– Contribute to advocacy towards proper interpretation of law and doctrine as well as in the development of standards of protection.

– Assist in the preparation of legal advice and drafting of position papers and guidelines on pertinent legal and operational issues.

– Consistently apply international and national law and UNHCR policies and standards.

– Provide inputs to the formulation of protection strategies.

– Liaise with DIP, Division and Bureau work units and external actors to enhance awareness of protection principles.

– Participate in meetings within UNHCR and with external counterparts at the relevant level.

– Contribute to draft protection documents and policies in cooperation with supervisor.

– Assist in the development of project proposals and project implementation.

– Perform other related duties as required.

Minimum Qualifications

Education & Professional Work Experience Years of Experience / Degree Level For P2/NOB

– 3 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 2 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 1 year relevant experience with Doctorate degree Field(s) of Education Law; Refugee Law; Human Rights Law; International Humanitarian Law; or other relevant field. (Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk* are essential) Certificates and/or Licenses HCR Learning Prog; (Certificates and Licenses marked with an asterisk* are essential) Relevant Job Experience Essential Excellent legal research, analytical and drafting skills. Desirable Completion of UNHCR learning programmes on protection would be an asset or any other equivalent external courses.

Functional Skills CO-Drafting and Documentation LE-Legal Research (Functional Skills marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Language Requirements For International Professional and Field Service jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English. For National Professional jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English and local language. For General Service jobs: Knowledge of English and/or UN working language of the duty station if not English. All UNHCR workforce members must individually and collectively, contribute towards a working environment where each person feels safe, and empowered to perform their duties. This includes by demonstrating no tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, harassment including sexual harassment, sexism, gender inequality, discrimination and abuse of power. As individuals and as managers, all must be proactive in preventing and responding to inappropriate conduct, support ongoing dialogue on these matters and speaking up and seeking guidance and support from relevant UNHCR resources when these issues arise. This is a Standard Job Description for all UNHCR jobs with this job title and grade level. The Operational Context may contain additional essential and/or desirable qualifications relating to the specific operation and/or position. Any such requirements are incorporated by reference in this Job Description and will be considered for the screening, shortlisting and selection of candidates.

Desired Candidate Profile

a) excellent knowledge on the work & mandate of UNHCR and the Organization’s priorities, guidelines, policies and approaches on asylum and refugees’ status determination procedures.
b) knowledge of International Refugee Law, Human Rights Law and ability to apply the relevant legal principles in the context of mixed and large movements.
c) demonstrated experience on providing Country of Origin Information and develop Country of Origin reports, supporting the development of national asylum capacities and policy, and working with government officials, RSD adjudicators, UN agencies, regional organizations, NGOs, academia, legal practitioners and aid providers, and regional and national Human Rights Institutions.
a) sound knowledge on global frameworks and mechanisms related to international refugee protection, including the Global Compact of Refugees, Global Refugee Forum and the Asylum Capacity Support Group initiative, and experience in working with regional mechanisms, processes and fora related to asylum and migration.
d) sound understanding, knowledge and insight analysis of the political, humanitarian, social, protection and legal context and dynamics in the Americas at national and regional level.
e) demonstrated ability to support the organization and facilitation of regional or national training workshops or meetings.
f) Language – Spanish & English is Essential for this position; excellent command of the English and Spanish language, both written and oral and a proven ability to present complex matters to a range of audiences, incl. partners, donors and authorities.

Required languages (expected Overall ability is at least B2 level):



Desired languages


Operational context

Occupational Safety and Health Considerations:

To view occupational safety and health considerations for this duty station, please visit this link:

Nature of Position:

In response to a challenging 2023-2024 outlook, UNHCR aims to enhance protection-sensitive responses by harnessing the collective resources and capacities of regional actors and processes, States and local authorities, judiciary, national human rights institutions, development cooperation agencies, civil society partners, communities, and private sector, towards the full application of the Global Compact on Refugees To achieve longer-term solutions, UNHCR will bolster efforts to ensure access to territory, enhance asylum capacities and access to complementary protection-sensitive regular stay arrangements, documentation, civil registries, essential public and specialized services, post-pandemic economic recovery programmes, and inclusion in national social protection systems. UNHCR promotes inclusion and self-reliance of persons of concern by fostering labour inclusion, entrepreneurship, and effective access to education, in cooperation with the private and public sector, development actors and other stakeholders. UNHCR also increases efforts to secure resettlement for persons of concern at heightened risk by supporting family reunification and other complementary pathways of admission to third countries.

This position is based at UNHCR Regional Bureau for the Americas in Panama City. The incumbent will work under the supervision of the Senior Protection Coordinator, s/he will be responsible in advancing the Bureau regional protection and solutions strategic priorities and supporting the regional strategy on asylum/RSD capacity and strengthening Country of Origin Information (COI) capacities, in line with the Office’s protection and solutions mandate, UNHCR Strategic Directions 2022-2026, the Global Compact of Refugees, the implementation of the Brazil Plan of Action, the Comprehensive Protection and Solutions Response Framework (MIRPS), the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for Venezuelans (RMRP), and the commitments arising from the Global Refugee Forums.

Due of the regional scope, the incumbent will provide technical, legal and operational guidance & support to the Protection Unit and RSD Unit in the Bureau to advance 2023-2024 strategic priorities for the Americas, ensuring a coherent and coordinate approach in the region. The incumbent will requires stay abreast of legal, political, security and other developments which impact on the regional and national protection environment, and on protection delivery, building and maintaining networks with States, NGOs, regional organizations, academia, donors, persons of concern and other relevant stakeholders towards the implementation of key regional priorities:

Support the implementation of the regional asylum/RSD strategy and the development of tailored made strategies at the operation level that can respond to the phenomenon of mixed and large movements, while ensuring access to territory and that people on the move are able to exercise their rights in line with international standards. Conducting research on country-of-origin information (COI) and other research related to RSD, and maintain the regional repository of relevant COI reports, guidelines, and standards accessible to staff in the operations and the Bureau. Provide guidance to UNHCR staff and external partners on strengthening asylum/RSD COI capacities and the drafting of eligibility guidelines, International Protection Considerations and country of origin information to addressing emerging needs, through training and in-job training addressing challenges faced by asylum countries in the region. Support development and adoption of legal and institutional frameworks and policies at the national and regional level for inclusion of refugees into national protection and assistance systems (health, education, social protection, welfare programmes, employment, socio-economic programs) in line with international and regional standards, in close collaboration with the Protection Unit and sector leads in the Bureau. support UNHCR country offices in the development of protection and solutions Multi-year Multi-partners (MYMP) strategies to advance local integration and its inclusion into the office programmatic and strategic planning in areas related to social protection, health, education, shelter, livelihoods, employment and cash assistance, in collaboration with other sectors and as part of the MFT. Support drafting court interventions, strategic litigation and commenting on states policies relevant to UNHCR. Support regional state-led and inter-agency processes and fora to advance UNHCR´s protection agenda on asylum and COI promoting, complementarity of the different global (Asylum Capacity Support Group initiative) and regional asylum initiatives and the implementation of GRF pledges related to asylum and legal aid. Support the GRF MFT in the Bureau in advancing the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Our Common Agenda, the Asylum Capacity Support Group initiative, ensuring complementarity of the different regional and global asylum initiatives, and the implementation of GRF pledges related to COI, RSD/asylum and legal aid.

Living and Working Conditions:

Panama City is classified ‘A’ Duty Station (Family) and has good infrastructure (health, housing, banking, transportation, telecommunications and recreational facilities) and good supply of goods and services, with no particular health hazards. -In terms of security Panama is relatively safe compared to other cities throughout Latin America and it is rated as security level ‘1 minimal’ whereas for Darién Province (border with Colombia) it is security level ‘2 low’. The city is a communication hub and it is possible to fly to all countries of the region with direct flights and it offers good options for travelling in general. -UNHCR offices are located in the Canal Zone, in a green area outside the city centre called ‘Ciudad del Saber’ where most of the other UN Agencies are also located, as well as International Schools, NGOs and research centres, etc. -The cost of living is relatively high for the region (reflected in the post adjustment), especially for housing and health, but it is easy to find accommodation on the private market, including in the area of the office in houses or in the city centre towers in modern apartments. Most of the food is imported except for sea products and some fruits and vegetables. There is a wide range of international schools, several of them offering IB curriculum including some in the office area. -In terms of recreational activities, Panama being a hub for the purchasing of goods for neighbouring countries, the city offers a lot of malls and doing shopping and going to malls is a common week end activity. Cultural offer is limited but there is a good offer of restaurants and a dynamic nightlife. Beaches on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts are reachable within one hour by car or by boat directly from the city and there are some options for hiking too. There is also a relatively good range of sports activities.

Additional Qualifications



BA: Law (Required)


HCR Learning Program – UNHCR

Work Experience


Accountability, Analytical thinking, Client & results orientation, Commitment to continuous learning, Communication, Innovation & creativity, Judgement & decision making, Organizational awareness, Policy research & development, Teamwork & collaboration

UNHCR Salary Calculator


Add.2 to Bi-annual Compendium 2022 – Part B

Functional clearance

This position doesn’t require a functional clearance

How to apply

For a full job description and to apply, interested candidates are requested to visit

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 of receipt of applications: 16 February 2023 (midnight Geneva time)

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