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UN Internal Justice System

The Old and The New System

To help in understanding what has changed as of 1 July, some key features are described in the chart below.

Old New
The internal justice system was mostly handled within the Department of Management, the same Department that makes decisions on HR and disciplinary matters. The internal justice system is independent, coordinated by the new Office of Administration of Justice (OAJ).
A peer-review system, with staff members who volunteered to serve on the Joint Appeals Boards (JABs) and Joint Disciplinary Committees (JDCs). A two-tier judicial system, with judges serving on the UN Dispute Tribunal (UNDT) and the UN Appeals Tribunal (UNAT).
The JABs and the JDCs made recommendations. The Secretary-General could agree or not agree. The UN Dispute Tribunal makes binding decisions.
Staff members could appeal the Secretary-General's decision to the Administrative Tribunal. Both staff members and the administration can appeal a decision by the UNDT to the UN Appeals Tribunal.
The Secretary-General could only impose a disciplinary measure after a recommendation from a JDC (except in cases of summary dismissal). The Secretary-General shall impose a disciplinary measure without the advice of a JDC. Such a measure can be appealed to the UNDT.
Judges of the UN Administrative Tribunal were nominated by Member States and elected by the General Assembly without any screening or selection process. Judges of the UNDT or UNAT must meet very strict criteria, including 10 and 15 years of professional experience, respectively, and are evaluated by the Internal Justice Council, an independent body, before being recommended to the GA for appointment.
The first step for a staff member wishing to formally contest a decision was a request for administrative review, conducted by OHRM. The first step for a staff member wishing to formally contest a decision is a request for management evaluation, conducted by the Management Evaluation Unit (MEU) in the Office of the USG/DM.

The funds and programmes carry out the management evaluation function through their own administrative structures.
The administrative review was criticized as taking very long and not providing any "added value". The management evaluation is conducted within strict timelines. It may result in the USG/DM overturning an improper decision.
The Ombudsman's Office had staff only at NY Headquarters. The Ombudsman and Mediation Services is strengthened, with capacity in several duty stations and a new Mediation Division.
There were no established links between the informal and the formal system. Informal resolution can be sought, at either the MEU stage, or the UNDT stage, where a judge can recommend mediation.
Legal assistance to staff was provided by volunteers through the Panel of Counsel. Legal assistance is provided through the Office of Staff Legal Assistance, staffed by professional legal officers.
The system was mostly Headquarters-based, with the exception of a JAB/JDC in Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi. The new system is more decentralized, with the UNDT existing in New York, Geneva and Nairobi, and the OSLA also in Addis Ababa and in Beirut.