ACO Office of Legal Affairs (ACO OLA) was created in 1951, headed by Mr. Jean
Bertout, and has seen a large expansion in the quantity and diversity of its
Like any large international organisation, ACO/SHAPE faces on a daily
basis a multitude of legal challenges, including general public international
law, international agreements, national and international litigations, human
rights law, international humanitarian law, international and local employment
law, contract law and administrative law.
OLA advises the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), his Command Group and
all SHAPE staff branches. It is the final supervisor within ACO on all matters
that may have legal implications on NAC’s mandate to SACEUR and with regard to
all subjects that affect the responsibilities, functions, operations and
activities of SHAPE and the subordinate headquarters.
ACO OLA as well provides
guidance and support to the legal advisers in subordinate ACO headquarters and
formations, that is to say: ACO OLA provides legal advice to 37 legal offices
in the NATO Command Structure, NATO Force Structure and assets at the disposal
ACO OLA has no hierarchical relationship with the IS/IMS and HQ SACT
legal offices although, since it is the major legal office among the NATO
international organisations, it contributes majorly to NATO’s legal
OLA has traditionally being organised in three branches: International,
Operational and Legal Management and has in recent years been supplemented by
the Readiness Arrangements Implementation Office (RAIO) and the Legal Advisors
Worktop Functional Area System (LAWFAS) teams, as well as, in a contributor
role by the Special Investigation and Litigation Team (SPL).
Serge Lazareff Prize
Since 2017, the ACO OLA hosts the Serge Lazareff Prize
for honouring individuals, both engaged with NATO/ACO and from outside the
organisation, whose work has proved outstanding and helpful for support and/or
developing the knowledge of the NATO legal position(s) and NATO legal works.
The Prize also aims to honour the memory of Serge Lazareff, an exceptional
scholar, legal practitioner and former NATO lawyer, who among his various and
extended merits and achievements, helped and developed the NATO Status of