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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

20 to 22 June 2018

The Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) hosted the 2018 meeting of Field Legal Officers from 20 to 22 June 2018 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 Headquarters and to promote system-wide legal coherence. It 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 20 June, the Field Legal Advisers were welcomed by the Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Lacroix, by the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Mr. Khare and by the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Jenča. 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 also 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 2018 Field Legal Officers meetin

The “family photo” of the 2018 Field Legal Officers meeting.

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. They also noted that, subject to the approval of the Member States, the Secretary-General’s proposed management reforms which are currently under consideration by the relevant legislative bodies, could have significant effects on the management of peacekeeping missions and special political missions in the future.

This year, the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel continued to be a major agenda item and the Field Legal Advisers were provided with updates on a number of recent initiatives to combat SEA. Colleagues at Headquarters also briefed on recent developments in relation to sexual harassment including, in particular, the development of a common approach for addressing sexual harassment across the UN system. Other issues on the agenda included legal issues arising in relation to the Secretary-General’s “Action for Peacekeeping’ initiative, including the Santos Cruz report, as well as peacekeeping intelligence, the detention of civilians and SOFA/SOMA violations. The meeting also discussed the UN Administration of Justice and the role of Field Legal Advisers in relation to mission downsizing.