General Counsel

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Reports to: Director General

Location: Cairo, Egypt

Main purpose of the position:

The General Counsel oversees all legal affairs of ICARDA and provides legal advice on a wide range of corporate, strategic and operational issues, including general business, corporate law, intellectual property, institutional agreements, governance, employment law matters, compliance and risk management.


The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) is a treaty-based international non-profit research organization supported by CGIAR.

ICARDA’s mission is to reduce poverty, enhance food, water, and nutritional security, as well as environmental health in the face of global challenges including climate change. We do this through innovative science, strategic partnerships, linking research to development and capacity development that take into account gender equality and the role of youth in transforming the dry areas. ICARDA works in partnership with governments, universities, civil society, national agricultural research organization, other CGIAR Research Centers, and the private sector. With its temporary Headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, ICARDA operates in regional and country offices across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. For more information:  

All CGIAR Centers are currently engaged into a reform process (“One CGIAR’”) that will help ICARDA and CGIAR achieve better impact through more strategically integrated research, unified governance, an integrated structure and new research modalities across participating Research Centers. This transformation is supported by CGIAR donors who have committed to increased funding as a result of these reforms.

Main responsibilities

·       Provide expert and strategic advice to Senior Management and the Board of Trustees on all legal matters arising from the activities of the Center.

·       Draft and review institutional agreements and participate in negotiations of these as may be necessary (agreements relating to partnerships, grants, institutional hosting of third parties, suppliers); ensure these comply with CGIAR’s and ICARDA’s internal law and any applicable national law requirements.

·       With the support of the ICARDA Deputy Director General – Research, CGIAR Global Legal Group and other experts in the CGIAR System, ensure that all ICARDA research activities and agreements comply with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources, the Nagoya Protocol and the CGIAR Principles on the Management of Intellectual Assets, and related guidelines; raise internal awareness and build ICARDA researchers’ capacity on intellectual property and research ethics issues.

·       Proactively identify existing and evolving applicable legal and regulatory issues (including with respect to national labour laws, sanctions, data protection, privacy) that may affect the Center’s operations in specific countries or worldwide and advise Senior Management on the impact of such issues and on proposed strategies to mitigate risks. 

·       Contribute to the development of ICARDA’s internal law in a manner consistent with ICARDA’s internal law nomenclature and CGIAR’s internal rules framework.

·       Provide advice on employment and general human resources matters, including with respect to disciplinary procedures and litigation cases.

·       Liaise and collaborate with counterparts in CGIAR Centers and the CGIAR System Organization to support the progress of CGIAR System-wide legal matters; actively engage as a member of the CGIAR Global Legal Group and provide support in that forum to the CGIAR Global General Counsel.

·       Maintain a repository of all ICARDA bilateral host country agreements, ensure these remain in effect and advise the Director General and Deputy Director General – Research as necessary to ensure that ICARDA’s privileges and immunities are recognized and upheld.

·       Review all management Board submissions; be a proactive focal point for the CGIAR Common Board Secretariat (which acts at the ICARDA Board Secretary), and act as an intermediary between the Director General’s office and the CGIAR Board Secretariat; coordinate in a timely manner with the Senior Management Team, the Director General’s Office and the CGIAR Common Board Secretariat on the preparation of documents to be presented to the Board; advise the Director General and the Board of Trustees on matters relating to the Charter and By-Laws and their interpretation.

·       Engage and manage external legal counsel as may be required.

·       Champion the Center’s values and highest ethical standards within and outside of ICARDA.

·       Serve as focal point on Board of Trustees matters with regards to coordinating the preparation of documents presented to or required by the Board.

·       Advise the Board on matters relating to the Charter and By-Laws and their interpretation.

·       Carry out such other duties as are assigned by the Board Chair or the Director General.


Qualifications and experience

·       Admitted to practice law in at least one national jurisdiction.

·       A post-graduate university law degree (such as LL. B. post-graduate, LL.M., JD) in a relevant field of law (international law, commercial law), or a first-level university degree with extensive, relevant work experience (more than ten years) in lieu of an advanced degree.

·       At least ten years’ experience of progressively responsible experience in the practice of law, with this experience being in a law firm, private practice or as in house counsel.

·       Specialized knowledge in grants and contracts, commercial law, governance, and human resources.

·       A strong track record in providing strategic and operational expert advice to senior management in complex international settings.

·       Excellent research, legal writing, drafting and negotiation skills.

·       Excellent written and verbal communication in English.

Desirable qualifications and experience

·       Experience working in at least one treaty-based international organization.

·       Experience working on intellectual property matters in agricultural research for development.

·       Knowledge of the CGIAR System and its governance structure.

·       Proficiency in Arabic and/or French.


Required personal traits

·       Personal integrity and credibility.

·       Excellent interpersonal skills with staff at all levels, including with respect to gender.

·       Ability to build effective working relationships with a wide range of stakeholders with different cultural and disciplinary backgrounds, within and outside the organization.

·       Strong analytical and problem-solving skills.

·       Constructive and client-oriented approach to the resolution of issues.

·       Ability to work with utmost discretion when handling sensitive issues and confidential matters.

·       Drive and ability to effectively manage multiple priorities with minimal supervision.

·       Commitment of the mission and work of ICARDA and the CGIAR System.


Terms of appointment, salary and benefits

This is an internationally recruited position for which ICARDA offers an attractive compensation package including a competitive salary, housing allowance, non-contributory retirement plan, medical insurance and leave provisions. All benefits are denominated and paid in US Dollars. The successful candidate will be offered an initial contract of three (3) years, renewable subject to satisfactory performance.  The first year of appointment will be probationary period. 

ICARDA is committed to increasing women representation in its workforce and strongly encourages applications from qualified women.

Applications will be acknowledged, but only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

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