OSLA was established within the Office of Administration of Justice as of 1 July 2009, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 63/253 of 24 December 2008. OSLA is independent from the UN staff unions, management or other actors. OSLA affiliated counsel have a responsibility to act in the interest of the client staff member, former staff member or affected dependant of a staff member. As officers of the court before the UN Dispute and Appeals Tribunals, OSLA counsel are required to perform their duties in accordance with established professional, ethical and legal obligations. Their actions are governed by a code of conduct which includes a provision that: “counsel shall neither seek nor accept directions from any quarter whatever in the discharge of his or her duties to a client, save those arising from the counsel/client relationship”.
OSLA is based at UN Headquarters in New York, with one legal officer each in Addis Ababa, Beirut, Geneva and Nairobi. OSLA may work in cooperation with UN staff members or former staff members who have legal experience, as well as pro bono external counsel. In addition, OSLA has made arrangements to engage legal interns via the UN internship programme.
Vijaya (Catherine) Claxton – in memoriam
The late Ms. Vijaya (Catherine) Claxton was one of the most enthusiastic in spearheading the effort to reform the United Nations internal justice system. It is widely recognized that, without Vijaya, the Office of Staff Legal Assistance would not exist today.