Administration of justice at the United Nations (Agenda item 143)
Summary of work
Background (source: A/68/100/Add.1)
The General Assembly considered the item at its fifty-fifth to fifty-seventh sessions, at its fifty-ninth session and at its sixty-first to sixty-sixth sessions (resolutions 55/258, 57/307, 59/283, 62/228, 63/253, 64/119 and 64/233, 65/251 and 66/237 and decisions 56/458 C, 58/576, 61/503 A, 63/531, 64/527, 64/553 and 65/213).
At its sixty-second session, the General Assembly decided to establish: (a) a two-tier formal system of administration of justice, comprising a first instance United Nations Dispute Tribunal and an appellate instance United Nations Appeals Tribunal; (b) the Office of Administration of Justice, comprising the Office of the Executive Director and the Office of Staff Legal Assistance and the Registries for the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the United Nations Appeals Tribunal; (c) a single integrated and decentralized Office of the Ombudsman for the United Nations Secretariat, funds and programmes with branches in several duty stations and a new mediation division; (d) the Internal Justice Council; and (e) the Management Evaluation Unit in the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management (resolution 62/228).
At its sixty-third session, the General Assembly decided to adopt the statutes of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the United Nations Appeals Tribunal; also decided that those Tribunals would be operational as of 1 July 2009; and further decided that all persons who had access to the Office of the Ombudsman under the previous system would also have access to the new informal system (resolution 63/253).
The item has been dealt within both the Fifth Committee and Sixth Committee with the latter focusing on the legal aspects.
Consideration of the item in the Fifth Committee
At its sixty-seventh session, the General Assembly recalled section XI of its resolution 55/258 of 14 June 2001, its resolutions 57/307 of 15 April 2003, 59/266 of 23 December 2004, 59/283 of 13 April 2005, 61/261 of 4 April 2007, 62/228 of 22 December 2007, 63/253 of 24 December 2008, 64/233 of 22 December 2009, 65/251 of 24 December 2010 and 66/237 of 24 December 2011, as well as its decisions 63/531 of 11 December 2008 and 65/513 of 6 December 2010, and endorsed the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (A/67/547), subject to the provisions of the present resolution (resolution 67/241).
Also at its sixty-seventh session, with regard to the informal system, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to recommend to the Assembly at its sixty-eighth session additional measures to encourage recourse to informal resolution of disputes and to avoid unnecessary litigation, to propose measures to encourage informal dispute resolution, to take concrete measures to address the current organizational culture wherein there is a tendency to shift responsibility for the resolution of conflict upwards in the organizational hierarchy, to report on progress made on the implementation of the recommendations to address systemic and cross-cutting issues contained in the report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services, to report to it on the revised terms of reference for the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services and to ensure that the terms of reference and guidelines for the Office are promulgated as soon as possible. The Assembly also welcomed the information provided informally by the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Service on the financial and administrative implications resulting from settlements reached through informal dispute resolution, and requested the Office to provide to the Assembly, at its sixty-eighth session, another informal briefing on such implications (resolution 67/241).
Also at the same session, the General Assembly decided, with regard to the formal system, to revert, at its sixty-eighth session, to the issue of the mandate and functioning of the Office of Staff Legal Assistance, that the overall level of resources for the Office of Staff Legal Assistance should be maintained at its current level until the Assembly takes a decision regarding a staff-funded scheme, and to remain seized of the matter of the proposed expedited arbitration procedures for consultants and individual contractors developed by the Secretary-General and contained in annex IV to his report on administration of justice at the United Nations at the sixty-seventh session (A/67/265 and Corr.1) (resolution 67/241).
Also at the same session, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General, with regard to the formal system, and in consultation with the Internal Justice Council and other relevant bodies, to prepare a code of conduct for legal representatives who are external individuals and not staff members and to report thereon at its sixty-eighth session and, when submitting a single preferred proposal for a joint financing option for the Office of Staff Legal Assistance by the Organization and the staff for its consideration and approval by the Assembly at the its sixty-eighth session, to do so in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including the Internal Justice Council and staff representatives. The Assembly also requested the Secretary-General: to continue to solicit responses to facilitate the submission of further information to the Assembly, for consideration at its sixty-eighth session, on the practice of tribunals in other international organizations and in Member States regarding awards for moral damages, emotional distress, procedural irregularities and violations of due process; to continue to include information on disputes involving non-staff personnel in the context of both management evaluation and informal mediation in his respective reports and to provide information also on existing measures to institutionalize good management practice that aim to avoid or mitigate disputes involving the different categories of non-staff personnel; and to make every effort to expedite the finalization of agreements on cost-sharing arrangements for the totality of the internal justice system, including on the expected reimbursement of approximately $4.5 million from the participating United Nations entities, and to report thereon at its sixty-eighth session. The Assembly further requested the Secretary-General: to submit to it at its sixty-eighth session proposals with reference to accountability of individuals where violations of the rules and procedures of the Organization have led to financial loss; to entrust the Internal Justice Council with including the views of both the Dispute Tribunal and the Appeals Tribunal in its annual reports; to provide the reports requested in paragraphs 13, 18, 19, 44, 48, 49, 54 and 55 of resolution 67/241 in a single comprehensive report on administration of justice; and to ensure the provision of functional courtrooms with adequate facilities as a matter of urgency (resolution 67/241).
Also at the same session, the General Assembly invited the Internal Justice Council to specify its recommendations on the stipulated qualifications for the Appeals Tribunal judges and to provide its views on appropriate options for effective measures against the filing of frivolous applications, and requested the Council to provide recommendations and to report on lessons learned drawn from the delays in selecting new members of the Council (resolution 67/241).
Consideration of the item in the Sixth Committee
At its sixty-seventh session, as set out in a letter from the Chair of the Sixth Committee to the Chair of the Fifth Committee (A/C.5/67/9), the Sixth Committee considered the legal aspects of the reports submitted by the Secretary-General (A/67/265 and Corr.1) and the Internal Justice Council (A/67/98), as well as the amendments to the rules of procedure of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the United Nations Appeals Tribunal, which were adopted by the Tribunals subject to the approval of the General Assembly (see A/67/349), and drew the attention of the Fifth Committee to a number of specific issues relating to the legal aspects of those reports.
Consideration at the sixty-eighth session (forthcoming)
Action taken by the Sixth Committee (forthcoming)