The organisation and functions of the Office of the Legal Adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Contribution of 18/11/2016
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Database of the CAHDI "The organisation and functions of the Office of the Legal Adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs" - contribution of Croatia - 18/11/2016

1. What is the title, rank and position of the Legal Adviser?

In accordance with the Regulation on the Internal Organization of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette No 34/2016), the Directorate for International Law Affairs is established. The Head of the Directorate holds the position of the Assistant Minister. The person who holds the position of the Head at present is a high ranking professional diplomat a lawyer specialized in international law with diplomatic training. The position of Chief Legal Advisor is also established in accordance the Regulation and the person who holds that position at present is a high ranking professional diplomat and a lawyer specialized in international law. There is no a separate unit organized as the Office of the Legal Advisor. The Directorate consists of three Sectors:

- Sector for European Law,
- Sector for International Law, and
- Sector for Translation.

In terms of this Questionnaire, the Sector for International Law (SIL) can also be considered as the Office of the Legal Advisor since it closely cooperates with the Chief Legal Adviser.

2. What are the principal functions of the OLA?

The SIL is competent for all affairs in connection with the follow-up, monitoring and analysing general and particular issues of international public and private law. Its functions are to provide legal advice and opinions on all matters arising from international law, especially the law of the sea, the law of international organisations, the status of international organisations and their offices, the international legal aspects of the EU membership, international diplomatic and consular law, international humanitarian law, international environmental law, international commercial law, international transport law, international criminal law. The SIL also deals with issues in relation to the national borders and border regime. It acts in conjunction with the Government and public bodies in respect of all issues within its competence and deals with other tasks as assigned by the Minister or the Head of Directorate. The SIL has a very important function in the process of concluding the international treaties on behalf of the Republic of Croatia – by issuing its opinion on a draft treaty from the point of view of international law. A legal adviser from the SIL is a regular member of the Croatian delegation negotiating the treaty. The Treaty Collection of the Republic of Croatia, covering all treaty actions undertaken by the Republic of Croatia, is kept with the SIL. The SIL is also in charge of printing and other arrangements for treaty signing.

3. Please give a brief description of staff employed by the OLA, including overseas staff. What is the distribution of posts between men and women within the OLA and what category of staff do they respectively belong to?

The SIL staff all together comprises of 11 employees (7 women and 4 men) and 8 of them are lawyers (4 women and 4 men), and all of them are specialized or specializing in various fields of international law, by attending post-graduate studies and participating in various courses at international institutions dealing with public and private international law. Most of the staff (9 of them), as well as the Chief Legal Adviser, have been with the Ministry and in the SIL for more than ten years, and 9 of them hold diplomatic ranks. A number of SIL staff is posted overseas, in particular with the Croatian Permanent Missions to the UN in New York, Geneva and Vienna and the Croatian Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels.

Apart from the lawyers, two administrators at the SIL are engaged in making arrangements for the signing of treaties as well as other jobs in connection with the Treaty Collection and the SIL's Reference Library. One diplomat with diverse professional background works in the Service for border issues within the SIL.

4. Are there any specific recruitment and promotion policies, provisions and/or quotas to ensure non-discrimination and equal opportunities, e.g. for the underrepresented sex, for persons with disabilities or for persons belonging to ethnic or religious minorities or of immigrant origin?

In accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette No 85/2010), as well as with the Law on Gender Equality (Official Gazette No 82/2008) and the Law on Combating Discrimination (Official Gazette No 85/2008 and 112/2012), any form of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnic or religious minorities, personal disabilities etc. in respect of employment is forbidden. The recruitment and promotion policies of the SIL staff, as well as other Ministry's staff, are regulated by relevant Laws (namely the Law on Civil Servants (Official Gazette No 49/2012, 37/2013, 38/2013 and 1/2015) and the Law on Foreign Affairs (Official Gazette No 48/1996, 72/2013 and 127/2013) and internal acts of the Ministry.

5. Is OLA staff trained on gender equality issues and are these issues mainstreamed into the OLA’s work?

The SIL staff is not specially trained on gender equality issues. However they are aware of the existing legislation on this issue and in that sense, the gender equality and non-discrimination are adequately mainstreamed into the SIL´s work.

6. Briefly describe the organisation and structure of the OLA.

The SIL comprises of three Departments:

- Service for International Public Law and International Legal aspect of the EU Membership,
- Service for Treaties, and
- Service for Border Issues.

Each Department has a Head, accountable to the Head of SIL, all of them are lawyers specialized in international law (2 women and 1 men).

The Head of SIL is lawyer specialized in international law and he is accountable to the Head of Directorate for International Law Affairs.

7. What is the OLA’s place within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

The SIL is one of three Sectors within the Directorate for International Law Affairs. There are 7 Directorates within the Ministry, all headed by the Assistant Minister.

8. What are the main contacts of the OLA within Government?

The SIL Head, as well as the SIL as a whole, maintains regular working contacts with high-ranking Government and Parliament officials, as well as with other Ministries, Agencies and Institutions, as required for the completion of the tasks. The SIL Head or other lawyer takes part, alone or in conjunction with high-ranking Ministry officials, in the work of Government bodies and in Parliament sessions when necessary.

9. Please describe the relations of the OLA with lawyers in private practice, academics and legal institutions.

The SIL closely co-operates with the academics, especially professors of international law at the Faculties of Law of Universities of Zagreb, Split and Rijeka, including preparations for regular 6th Committee sessions. SIL staff members are encouraged to participate in various seminars, courses and other gatherings dealing with international law issues, and they get invited to give lectures to undergraduate or graduate students on subjects they are specialised in. The Head of Directorate and Chief Legal Advisor regularly lecture on international law issues at the Diplomatic Academy in the course of training for foreign assignment. Depending on the post the diplomat is preparing for, he/she will often hold consultations within the SIL about some particular international law issues. The SIL also provides assistance to private practice and legal institutions.

10. Please provide a brief bibliography on the OLA, if available.

For the time being there is no bibliography which refers in particular to the role of the SIL.