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United Nations - Office of Legal Affairs

Office of Legal Affairs
Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the Legal Counsel of the United Nations: Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares


The Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) of the United Nations was established in 1946 (UNGA res. 13(I) of 13 February 1946). Originally, it was organized as a department; but in 1954 it was reorganized into an office to reflect more closely its role in providing legal advice to the Secretary-General and acting on his behalf in legal matters (see Yearbook of the United Nations 1954, pages 438 and 568-570).

In 1946, the Legal Department was headed by an Assistant Secretary-General and consisted of the Office of this official, the Division of General Legal Problems, the Division for the Development and Codification of International Law, the Division of Immunities and Registration of Treaties (see Yearbook of the United Nations 1946-1947, page 630).

In 1967, the International Trade Law Branch was established, and in 1992, the Office for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea was integrated into OLA.