Department of Legal Affairs
The functions of the Section are:-
- Provide advice on International Law and Treaty matters to the Government
- Initiate negotiations and finalization of treaties and international agreements;
- Formulation and implementation of the Ministry’s policies on matters pertaining to the Immunities and Privileges Act, the Treaties and Conventions Act, Publications Act , the Refugee Act and other multilateral agreement;
- Updating and compiling records on treaties;
- Assist with drafting statements articulating negotiating positions;
- Provide advice on territorial issues relating to Malawi’s boundaries;
- Registration of bilateral agreements with the international organizations;
- Undertake or initiate consultation that precede Malawi’s decisions to become party to bilateral and multilateral agreements;
- Other general international law matters;
In discharging the above listed duties the Unit anticipates to be assisted by the legal experts expected to be stationed at its technical missions like the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, USA and Geneva, Switzerland.
Objectives and Strategies
The objectives of the Section is to provide legal advisory services to the Ministry and handle matters related to international legal instruments.
- Formulating and implementing Malawi’s Foreign Policy;
- Attending meetings and negotiations on issue pertaining to international policy matters;
- Acting as legal advisor on international law issues and other ancillary matters that hinge on Malawi and its obligations on the international plane;
- Providing legal advice on diverse international law issues whether originating bilaterally or multilaterally;
- Initiating, negotiating and finalization of treaties and international agreements;
The advice given by the section is not restricted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation only but also extends to other Ministries and Departments which handle matters with international legal connotations and where appropriate, individual, particularly nationals
Initially the Section was established with a view to handle matters related to bilateral and multilateral treaties. Over the years, following the critical shortage of lawyers in the Ministry of Justice, the functions of the section have evolved beyond the handling of treaties. The section has, accordingly, has reviewed and restructures into a fully fledged unknown as Legal Affairs Section.
At its inception 1964, the section had an establishment of six lawyers, all seconded from the Ministry of Justice. The establishment was later reduced to three i.e. Under Secretary treaties (P5) and Treaties Officer (P7) and Assistant Treaties Officer (PO). The reduction affected the section’s effectiveness to an extent of failing to meet deadlines and failing to discharge certain duties. In order to redress these shortcomings and to make the Department more responsive to the responsive to the ever-increasing demands of international law, the Section’s establishment has been reviewed. The new establishment provided for posts of Controller of Legal Affairs (P3) Assistant Chief Legal Officer (P5) and two Principal Legal Officers (P7).