Office of the Legal Counsel (LEG)

Integrity and Conflict Management System (ICMS)
Helping to maintain integrity and resolve conflict in PAHO

What is the mission of the Office of the Legal Counsel?

The Office of the Legal Counsel (LEG) is responsible for providing unified and central legal services, advice and counsel to the Secretariat as a whole and the Organization's Governing Bodies. In particular it carries out legal work relative to the fulfillment of the mandates of its Constitution and the Strategic Plans and Objectives adopted by the Member States. LEG also provides legal advice to the technical and administrative units, as well as field offices and Centers on all legal and constitutional aspects of their activities, including, but not limited to the negotiation and drafting of treaties, agreements and contracts, host country relations, privileges and immunities, administrative matters, application and interpretation of the Organization's rules and regulations, relations with other international organizations, non-governmental organizations and private sector, and the handling of complaints lodged by staff members before the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization in Geneva and the defense of the Organization in other national or international judicial and quasi-judicial fora. In providing these services LEG ensures that the decisions that are made and carried out are in legal conformity, thus, protecting the legal interest of the Organization. Finally, the Office of the Legal Counsel also provides technical legal cooperation to PAHO Member States upon request on Health-related law and Human Rights.

Who does the  Office of the Legal Counsel report to?

In PAHO's organizational structure, LEG is under the Office of the Director of PAHO and the Legal Counsel reports directly to the Director. The Office of the Legal Counsel is part of PAHO's management structure and, as such, does not act independently but is accountable to the Director ofthe Organization.

What is the level of authority of the  Office of the Legal Counsel?

The Office of the Legal Counsel plays a proactive role in facilitating the achievement of the Organization's mission by safeguarding its privileges and immunities and status as an international public health organization. It works closely with PAHO's Senior Management and Governing Bodies to promote good governance, ensure respect for constitutional, legal and administrative issues, thus protecting the name and integrity of the Organization.

The Office of the Legal Counsel also works closely with other members of PAHO's Integrity and Conflict Management System to foster ethical behavior and compliance with the Organizations rules and regulation, and to ensure effective conflict management, the right to due process and consistency in decision-making within the Organization.

What is the level of confidentiality of the Office of the Legal Counsel?

The Office of the Legal Counsel has complete access to all records and files of the Organization. It has a duty to protect the confidentiality of information that is brought to its attention and can only share this information with persons within the Organization who have a legitimate need to know. In resolving problems, LEG observes the requirements of due process and strives to ensure that the best interests of the Organization and/or its personnel are protected.

Who can use the services of the Office of the Legal Counsel?

The Office of the Legal Counsel is accessible to all PAHO personnel both at Headquarters and in the Country Offices and Centers, regardless of the type or duration of their appointment or contract. In addition, people from outside the Organization, such as Government officials, contractors, vendors and suppliers, lawyers and others can contact the Office of the Legal Counsel to discuss, consult, or report issues that may have legal implications.

When should you contact the Office of the Legal Counsel?

  • Ask questions about the application and use of the Organization's privileges and immunities;
  • Report suspected violations of PAHO's rules and regulations, including staff rules and regulations, and irregularities or concerns regarding the letting, preparation, performance or implementation of any agreement or project executed by the Organization or any contract that PAHO has entered into with an individual, company, government or organization;
  • Seek advise on the application or interpretation of PAHO rules and regulations, PAHO/WHO E-Manual, or any PAHO policy, including legal aspects of personnel, procurement or financial matters;
  • Seek advise on proposed institutional relationships with private sector enterprises, including non-governmental, foundations and for-profit entities;
  • Inquire whether PAHO personnel can publish work-related articles;
  • Inquire into the use of PAHO's name and logo or report the unauthorized use of PAHO's name or logo by anyone within or outside the Organization;
  • Seek advice on use of copyrighted material or disclose copyright infringement regarding any work or publication that has been produced by PAHO;
  • Obtain advice on ILOAT cases and how the jurisprudence might apply in given situations.

How can the Office fo the Legal Counsel be contacted?

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