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United Nations - Office of Legal Affairs
Activities of the Legal Counsel of the United Nations

OLA hosts annual meeting of Field Legal Advisers at UNHQ

22-24 June 2016

The Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) hosted the 2016 meeting of Field Legal Officers from 22 to 24 June 2016 at United Nations Headquarters New York. This annual meeting brings together the Legal Advisers or Legal Officers of the Peacekeeping Operations and Special Political Missions to enhance contacts, to support knowledge-sharing and to discuss legal matters of common interest. The meeting further serves to improve coordination and communication among the Field Legal Advisers and to promote system-wide legal coherence. The meeting also provides OLA with an opportunity to brief the Field Legal Advisers on current legal issues facing the Organization.

At the high-level opening session on 22 June, the Field Legal Advisers were welcomed by the Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Ladsous, by the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Mr. Khare, by the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Zerihoun, and by the Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Mr. Mathias. In their remarks, the senior officials briefed the Field Legal Advisers on current challenges and trends regarding peacekeeping and special political missions from the perspective of UN Headquarters New York. All principals stressed the excellent cooperation between OLA, DPKO, DFS and DPA with respect to addressing legal issues arising in United Nations field operations. They commended the Field Legal Officers for their work often carried out under very difficult circumstances and at considerable personal risk.

The “family photo” of the 2016 Field Legal Officers meeting
The “family photo” of the 2016 Field Legal Officers meeting

This year, the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel dominated the agenda. Colleagues at Headquarters, including at the USG and ASG levels, briefed the Field Legal Officers on recent developments, and the meeting discussed the “CAR Panel” recommendations and their implementation in detail. Other issues on the agenda included Administration of Justice and the role of the Field Legal Officer in handling grievances by mission personnel, the Global Banking Harmonization Project and legal issues arising under the rules of engagement and the operational coordination of the mission with non-UN forces.