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UN Internal Justice System

Formal Resolution

If a staff member considers that there has been an administrative decision that violates his or her rights as an employee of the Organization, and is unable to resolve the matter informally if such methods are pursued, the staff member can contest such a decision through the formal mechanism.

Contesting a decision involves a number of steps, with specific deadlines. It is important for anyone wishing to contest a decision to be aware of these steps and deadlines.

Management evaluation

As a first step in the formal system, a staff member who wishes to contest an administrative decision is required to request a management evaluation no more than 60 days after the staff member was notified of the contested decision. The deadline may be suspended pending efforts for informal resolution conducted by the office of the Ombudsman and Mediation Services.

This initial review, which normally should be concluded within 45 days (30 days for New York Headquarters), entails an objective and reasoned assessment as to whether the contested decision was made in accordance with the rules. If it is determined that an improper decision has been made, Management will ensure that the decision is changed or that an appropriate remedy is provided. In some cases, alternative means of arriving at a settlement, such as mediation, may be found. In the Secretariat, management evaluations are carried out by the Management Evaluation Unit in the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management. The Funds and Programmes carry out the management evaluation function through their own administrative structures. The purpose of this step is to give management a chance to correct itself or provide acceptable remedies in cases where there has been flawed decision-making, and to reduce the number of cases that proceed to formal litigation.

A management evaluation is not required if the contested decision concerns the imposition of a disciplinary measure, or if it was taken by the administration based on the advice of an expert or advisory board, such as the Advisory Board on Compensation Claims. In such cases, an application can be made directly to the UN Dispute Tribunal.

The UN Dispute Tribunal

When no resolution through informal means can be arrived at, and when the result of the management evaluation is not to the satisfaction of the staff member, the staff member can file an application to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal (UNDT), as a court of first instance.

Read more about the UNDT

UN Appeals Tribunal

Decisions by the Dispute Tribunal may be appealed, either by staff or the administration, to the United Nations Appeals Tribunal (UNAT). The Statute of the UNAT allow for appeals in cases where it is alleged that the UNDT has either exceeded its jurisdiction or failed to exercise it; or that it has erred on question of fact or law or procedure. The UNAT is also competent to hear cases filed by other entities subject to special agreement with the Secretary General.

Read more about the UNAT

Legal assistance to staff

It has been a long-standing principle of the Organization that staff members who wish to appeal an administrative decision, or who are subject to disciplinary action, should have access to legal advice and representation. For this purpose, there is an Office of Staff Legal Assistance (OSLA), staffed by full-time legal officers at Headquarters, as well as in Geneva, Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Beirut.

Read more about OSLA

Office of Administration of Justice

A hallmark of the new system is that it be independent. A new Office of Administration of Justice, headed by an Executive Director appointed by the Secretary-General, is responsible for coordinating the functioning of the new system.

Read more about OAJ