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Research Guides

UN Documentation: International Law

UN Legal Offices

Many aspects of the work of the organization have a legal aspect and there are legal officers who work in departments not listed below.

Office of Legal Affairs

The Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) is the main Secretariat office concerned with international law. Its mission is carried out by several divisions:

  • Office of the Under-Secretary General
  • Office of the Legal Counsel
  • General Legal Division
  • Codification Division
  • Division for Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea
  • International Trade Law Division
  • Treaty Section

OLA produces many of the legal publications and information resources of the UN, including, among others:

Office of Administration of Justice

The Office of Administration of Justice (OAJ) is responsible for the internal system for handling disputes and disciplinary matters within the UN.

The UN has immunity from local jurisdiction and cannot be sued in a national court. The internal justice system was established to resolve staff-management disputes.

The OAJ website includes the full text of judgments and orders of the tribunals, as well as other documents related to the internal administration of justice.  

Registry of the ICJ

The Registry of the ICJ has both judicial and administrative functions to support the work of the Court.

Office of Drugs and Crime

The UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) assists states to fight illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.

UN Rule of Law Unit

Rule of Law is a cross-cutting issue: the UN Rule of Law Unit promotes coordination among various UN entities concerned with the topic.