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As the central legal service of the Organization, Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) provides a unified legal advice to the Secretary-General as well as the Secretariat and the principal and other organs of the UN on questions of international public and private law. OLA is actively engaged in strengthening the rule of law in and through the UN, particularly at the international level, by:

  • Promoting the uniform and consistent application of international law;
  • Ensuring coordination and coherence of legal approaches among UN entities on international law matters;
  • Providing advice on the interpretation of the UN Charter, treaties, UN resolutions and decisions, rules of procedure, privileges and immunities and questions relating to the status, legal regimes and mandates of peacekeeping, peace building or political missions or offices;
  • Ensuring treaty registration and publication pursuant to Article 102 of the Charter, and performing the Secretary-General’s depositary functions under multilateral treaties;
  • Providing technical assistance to States on international law matters, including on treaty law and practice;
  • Promoting and facilitating participation in multilateral treaties through treaty events and capacity building;
  • Assisting in the codification and progressive development of international law, including serving as secretariat for the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly and the International Law Commission;
  • Supporting international dispute settlement mechanisms, including the International Court of Justice;
  • Providing advice on international humanitarian law and the legal aspects of the conduct of UN operations, the implementation of mandatory sanctions and the establishment and functioning of international and hybrid criminal tribunals as well as other accountability mechanisms;
  • Preparing legal opinions, studies and advice on UN administrative law, private international law, procurement, the drafting and negotiation of contracts as well as the negotiation and settlement of claims and disputes arising from the operational activities of the Organization;
  • Assisting in the progressive harmonization, modernization and unification of the law of international trade by serving as secretariat for the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law;
  • Providing legal advice on partnerships with the private sector;
  • Discharging responsibilities relating to teaching and dissemination activities in international law, including fellowship programmes, publications and websites;
  • Providing assistance in the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Relevant Documents and Links: