Office of Legal Affairs

Office of Legal Affairs

The UN Office for Legal Affairs was approved as an observer to UNEG at the UNEG AGM 2019.



Evaluation Function Snapshot Independence Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning Quality Assurance Use of Evaluation Joint Evaluation

Evaluation Function

  1. Evaluation within OLA entails the systematic monitoring and assessment of the intended and unintended consequences of the Office’s activities and their impact on all relevant stakeholders. Internal evaluation and self-evaluation constitute two of OLA’s management tools to assess the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability of its activities, practices, structures, and budget.
  2. Through the provision of credible, reliable, and evidence-based information, internal and self-evaluation at OLA seeks to promote the dual goals of (i) accountability and (ii) organizational learning so as to improve, on a continuous basis, the quality of the Office’s work, organizational structure, and management.
  3. Within OLA, evaluation is divided into two activities, both carried out according to the functional capacity and mandate of each unit, division, or programme under evaluation and of the Office as a whole. Internal evaluations are carried out by OLA staff or consultants who do not work directly with the unit, division or programme being evaluated, with primary responsibility resting with the staff members of the Evaluation Unit. Self-evaluations are managed directly by the unit, division or programme being evaluated, with primary responsibility resting with the relevant Evaluation Focal Point(s) and Senior Manager(s). 


Evaluation Policy

  • OLA Evaluation Policy, 2020


  • Utility, quality, impartiality, and independence

Human Resources

  • Head of Unit: 1
  • Evaluator: 1
  • Support staff: 0
  • Information and communications staff: 1

Evaluations produced annually. At present (2023) all OLA units have conducted self-evaluations and, in most cases, developed standard operating procedures (SOPs) covering different legal matters including legal support to the UN in criminal accountability processes and the publication of treaties and treaty actions registered or filed and recorded with the Secretariat in the United Nations Treaty Series under Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.


The Evaluation and Strategic Planning Unit (ESPU) is located inside the OLA structure and reports directly to the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel.

ESPU is solely responsible for the conduct of all evaluations (except for self-evaluations), including the selection of consultants and drafting the terms of reference, and therefore it is operationally independent.

Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning

In consultation with OLA senior management, ESPU selects evaluation topics based on a systematic review of past evaluations to identify gaps in coverage. ESPU proposal is then approved by the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and reflected in the fascicle of upcoming year. 

Quality Assurance

ESPU evaluations are conducted and quality assured, based on the UNEG Norms and Standards. Evaluations aim to follow the highest standards in selecting and applying methodologies for data-collection, analysis, and interpretation. ESPU may engage temporary external expertise to support evaluations in case if it’s required.

Use of Evaluation

Use of evaluation is ensured through programme follow-up to recommendations and lessons learned. OLA has established the Evaluation Working Group, which serves as the principal forum for the exchange of best practices, lessons learned and standards on monitoring and evaluation, as well as for the discussion, development and sharing of methodologies, toolkits, templates, and tools to support divisions in their assessment efforts. Monitoring and evaluation updates and discussions have become embedded in the context of a yearly meeting chaired by the United Nations Legal Counsel, and attended by all Office of Legal Affairs heads of unit and directors, as well as in the annual town halls. These mechanisms have increased the Office’s capacity for information-sharing on evaluation and have led to a deeper understanding of the value of monitoring and evaluation in furtherance of the Office’s mandate.

Joint Evaluation

UNEG Members

Fact Sheet