Legal & Humanitarian Advisor (m/f/x)


Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international humanitarian aid organization that provides assistance in more than 60 countries to populations in distress, to victims of natural or manmade disasters and to victims of armed conflicts, without discrimination and irrespective of origin, religion, creed or political affiliation.

Legal & Humanitarian Advisor (m/f/x)


The position is hosted by the Analysis Department but responds both to the International Legal Department (50%) and to the Coordinator of the Conflict and Humanitarianism Team (50%).

The Intersectional Legal Department (ILD) is an intersectional department that provides legal analysis, advice, support as well as risk and case management to Operational Directorate’s (OD) field operations in accordance with ILD international management and governance structure agreed in the ‘ILD Guiding Principles’.

ILD reports to the Secretary General in his capacity of chair of the Executive Committee (ExCom) for all intersectional files and to general directors of the Operational Directorate (OD) for cases related to one OD only.

The ILD ensures that legal advice and legal support take into account and reconcile the specific legal context of MSF operations applicable in MSF countries of Operations and Headquarters with the necessary humanitarian and medical space linked to the specific legal nature of MSF as an international humanitarian and medical organization, as well as the specific governance of the MSF movement.

The role of the Analysis Department of the Operational Center of Brussels (OCB) is to support and critically engage with operations in navigating MSF’s political environment and in overcoming the obstacles faced by patients and operations.

The team’s role is to build in-depth analysis of MSF’s environment and to implement strategies alongside operations to address those challenges, be it through public positioning, advocacy, networking, negotiations or the development of innovative operational models.

The analysis department is a multi-disciplinary team that contributes to the MSF-OCB social mission through the following objectives:

  1. To conduct in depth humanitarian and health policy related research/reflection;
  2. To strengthen context analysis and negotiation/networking capacity;
  3. To take public positions on the politics of health and humanitarianism based on MSF’s operational experiences;
  4. To develop and implement advocacy strategies, that are rooted in our operations, as a tool to achieve change;
  5. To support in the development of innovative operational approaches and models of care;
  6. To design data collection methods for the purposes of advocacy and analysis.


Under the hierarchical supervision of the OCB General Director Deputy and the functional supervision of ILD Humanitarian space/IHL Unit manager & the Analysis Department Conflict & Humanitarianism Coordinator, the Legal & Humanitarian Advisor provides direct legal support to operational teams regarding Humanitarian space/IHL as well as support in analysis, advocacy and definition of MSF positioning on specific dossiers related to conflict settings.

Acting as a legal advisor, (s)he works in an integrated way with OCB and other OCs legal advisors and with the relevant legal Unit manager of the Intersectional Legal Department to ensure that OCB receives coherent and best quality support.

Acting as legal advisor for OCB, (s)he works in an integrated way with OCB legal advisors to support operational teams with regard to the protection of MSF medical mission.

Within the scope of his/her direct and delegated activities, the legal & humanitarian advisor is responsible for the identification and assessment of missions’ overall legal risks and definition of strategies and mitigation measures.

As a member of the analysis department, s(he) guides key field positions (Humanitarian Affairs Officers, Head of Missions, FieldCos…) and collaborates with MSF partner sections in their positioning and advocacy on these topics and work in collaboration with other members of the Analysis Department on these dossiers, including the Director and Senior Humanitarian Specialists.

RESPONSIBILITIES In particular, s(he) will be charged with the following responsibilities:

1. ILD –> Humanitarian space/IHL

  • Under the supervision of the Humanitarian space/IHL Unit manager, (s)he develops expertise and supports missions on International Humanitarian Law, International Human Rights Law and International Justice

  • Support field teams in the development of legal arguments aimed at defending the medical mission and MSF’s humanitarian space, particularly providing support to field teams (via desks) regarding IHL issues during negotiations of MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) or special agreements/status, during the management of incidents and in the protection of victims of conflict

  • Brief and debrief all relevant staff departing and coming back from IHL contexts

  • Participate in the Unit 1 country approach follow-up and management on IHL and counter-terrorism including specific country analyses

  • Manage legal issues of requests from commissions of inquiry or national or international legal proceedings regarding violations of IHL, or national or international criminal frameworks and ensuring that MSF’s policy on participation in such proceedings is applied

  • Train MSF personnel on relevant IHL issues and develop relevant tools

  • Participate in and contribute to intersectional working groups of the legal department, particularly relating to IHL and national/international legal proceedings

  • Support MSF teams in the management of individual cases of violence against patients as well as against MSF personnel in the field and security incidents when applicable (such as arrest, kidnapping, murder, threats or cruel treatment) or any violation of the protected status of the medical mission in general

  • Upon ad hoc request of Unit 1 manager and/or OCB DG (General Direction), contribute to potential incident crisis involving IHL violations, criminalization of staff or institution, staff arrest or security

2. Analysis

  • Conduct regular context analysis on attacks on health facilities and staff, emerging warrying parties, protection of civilians, impact of counter-terrorism legislations, criminalisation of MSF activities

  • Provide analytical and advocacy support to operations on these issues

  • Provide critical review and analysis on upcoming trends and concerns in relation to the conduct of hostilities and humanitarian access in MSF OCB contexts of operations

  • Produce briefing notes on key issues and policies

  • Enhance and propose coherent MSF positioning on these issues, both at level of policy and practice

  • Contribute to the training for HQ and field staff


Education & Experience

  • Educational background in Law and International Humanitarian Law in particular and/or strong work experience in IHL
  • Minimum 7 year’s professional experience including at least 3 years as a lawyer or legal counsel
  • Operational experience as a legal advisor in the field is an asset
  • Field experience with MSF or another humanitarian organisation desirable


  • Rigor, clarity and ability to adapt to different legal systems, sense of priorities and of organization
  • Ability to translate an operational negotiation in legal language
  • IT skills


  • French and English speaking is mandatory, additional languages are an asset


  • Expected starting date: Asap

  • Contract type: Open-end contract (CDI), full-time (100%)

  • Location: Brussels

  • Salary according to MSF-OCB HQ grid – Meal vouchers – Hospital Insurance (DKV) – Pension Plan – 100% reimbursement for public transportation costs

  • Adhere to the MSF principles and to our managerial values: Respect, Transparency, Integrity, Accountability, Trust and Empowerment

  • Adhere to the MSF Behavioral Commitments

Deadline for applications: 3/05/2022

How to apply

How to apply?

Please, send your CV and cover letter to [email protected] and mention “**Legal & Humanitarian Advisor**” in the subject of your email.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

MSF values diversity and is committed to create an inclusive working environment. We welcome applications from all qualified candidates regardless of disability, gender identity, marital or civil partnership status, race, color or ethnic and national origins, religion or belief, or sexual orientation.

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