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Legal Adviser

Requisition ID:  18629
Region:  Europe (HQ)
Contract type:  Open-ended contract

Reports to (role)


Head of Arms and Conduct of Hostilities Unit

What we do


The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) works worldwide to provide humanitarian assistance to people affected by conflict and armed violence. We take action in response to emergencies and at the same time promote respect for international humanitarian law. We are an independent and neutral organization, and our mandate stems essentially from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. We work closely with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and with their International Federation in order to ensure a concerted, rational and rapid humanitarian response to the needs of the victims of armed conflict or any other situation of internal violence. We direct and coordinate the international activities conducted in these situations.



The Arms and Conduct of Hostilities Unit is part of the Legal Division of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The Unit leads the development and implementation of ICRC legal and policy positions, strategies and activities aimed at reaffirming, clarifying and developing International Humanitarian Law (IHL) rules protecting civilian against the effects of weapons and hostilities.


This includes promoting the faithful implementation of treaties prohibiting or regulating weapons, means and methods of warfare, and safeguarding humanitarian protections for people affected by armed conflict or by weapons of concern. In response to humanitarian concerns witnessed in ICRC field operations, such as those raised by urban warfare, or which may result from new developments in weapons’ technologies, the Unit proposes the development of new rules or standards related to the conduct of hostilities and to weapons of concern. The Unit maintains bilateral discussions with government and military representatives, as well as other stakeholders. It represents the ICRC and promotes its position in multilateral fora, policy debates and negotiations, expert groups and academic settings.

Purpose of the position


The Legal Adviser proposes and develops ICRC legal and policy positions relating to new technologies of warfare, including – together with the Scientific and Policy Adviser – autonomous weapons and military applications of artificial intelligence, as well as on other issues of humanitarian concern related to specific weapons and the conduct of hostilities. They elaborate and implements strategies to promote these positions with a view to safeguard and strengthen the humanitarian protection of civilians and combatants from the effects of emerging weapons, means and methods of warfare.



  • Internally, interacts with relevant colleagues, head of units and divisions at headquarters and in the field, including in particular in the Legal Division, the Policy Division, the Unit for Relations with the Armed Forces, the Health Unit and the Communications department, among others.
  • Externally, interacts with diplomats and other government representatives, militaries, UN representatives, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners, civil society actors, academics including at partner institutions, think thanks, and other scientific and technology experts, including in the commercial sector.

Main duties and responsibilities


The Legal Adviser’s main responsibilities will focus on the development and promotion of ICRC legal and policy positions relating to new technologies of warfare, together with the Scientific and Policy Adviser, including autonomous weapons and military applications of artificial intelligence, alongside other issues of humanitarian concern related to specific weapons and the conduct of hostilities. This will entail:


  • Proposing, refining and/or developing ICRC legal and policy positions on topics within the Legal Adviser’s area of responsibility, and contributing to the work of the Unit and wider institutional reflections;
  • Offering legal interpretations and advice to internal and external contacts;
  • Producing internal reports, public statements, speeches, presentations, legal commentaries, studies, scholarly articles, blog posts, and other written products including speaking points;
  • Developing strategies to help shape international debates and processes with a view to foster the faithful implementation of relevant legal rules and policies, and, where needed, to reaffirm, clarify, or develop these further.
  • Representing the ICRC and promoting its views and positions in multilateral policy processes and negotiations, bilateral and small-group discussions with States and militaries, in meetings of technical experts, diplomatic conferences, training seminars, etc.;
  • Initiating and organising expert meetings, workshops and other events, as appropriate;
  • Spreading knowledge of and promoting IHL and ICRC positions through presentations, media interviews and social media engagement, to diverse external audiences, including international fora, diplomats, technical specialists, academics, and the wider public, as well as internally, to ICRC staff.
  • Maintaining and developing, in an inclusive manner, the ICRC’s network of, and trusted relation with, multidisciplinary experts and organisations, including from government, military, civil society and other relevant stakeholders.

Education and experience required


  • Master’s degree in international law or similar post-graduate qualification, or license to practice law; PhD an asset;
  • Confirmed expertise in IHL and international law relating to weapons or disarmament and their application to novel technologies;
  • Experience in policymaking in the area of arms/weapons control or disarmament, and/or science and technology studies and governance; experience of multilateral negotiations and other policy processes is an asset;
  • Experience in organizing and managing expert meetings, workshops or other events, in person and on-line, is an asset;
  • At least 7-10 years of relevant professional experience.

Skills and qualifications


  • Well-developed legal research and writing skills and an ability to analyze and synthesize complex legal issues;
  • Rigor and speed in analyzing and drafting legal and policy texts;
  • Excellent ability to communicate with diverse lay and expert audiences, especially to present complex legal issues clearly and concisely;
  • Ability to represent the ICRC, in particular by exchanging in an autonomous and efficient manner with diplomats, militaries, academics and other stakeholders;
  • Openness to dialogue and good interpersonal and intercultural skills;
  • Proven ability to work in a multidisciplinary team;
  • Perfect command of spoken and written English; passive working proficiency of French; other languages (Russian, Chinese, Spanish or Arabic) are an asset.

Additional Information


  • Location: Geneva
  • Type of contract: Open-ended
  • Grade: C2
  • Activity rate: 100%
  • Estimated start date: 1st August 2022 (TBD)
  • Application deadline: Sunday, the 5th June 2022


The ICRC values diversity and is committed to creating an inclusive working environment. We welcome applications from all qualified candidates.