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UN Internal Justice System

Step By Step Guide

What do I do first?

  • As a first step, every effort should be made to resolve a dispute informally at the working level in your own office or Department. Familiarize yourself with the rules governing the particular matter you believe has been handled in a manner that violates your rights. Speak to your colleagues, supervisor, Executive Officer, or another manager whom you trust.
  • If no resolution is found within your office or department, or if you would like confidential advice, contact the Ombudsman and Mediation Services to seek their assistance or possible intervention.
  • Remember, resolving a dispute through informal mechanisms is usually quicker and less cumbersome and emotionally stressful than litigation.
  • Identify the specific administrative decision that you are objecting to, and when the decision was made, or when you were effectively notified of the decision. This is very important for the timelines, should you decide to proceed with contesting the decision through the internal justice system.
  • Contact the Office of Staff Legal Assistance. They will provide advice on what options you may have in the formal system, or whether your case may be better resolved through informal processes.

How do I appeal an administrative decision?

Management Evaluation

  • Should you decide to formally contest a decision, the first step is to request a management evaluation. This should be done in a letter addressed to the Under-Secretary-General for Management, with a copy to the head of department or office where you work. If you work in a separately administered Fund or Programme, the letter should be addressed to the Executive Head of the Fund or Programme.
  • The MEU is also mandated to receive and review suspension of action [link to Glossary] requests directly from staff members in cases of separation from service, and to make recommendations to the Under-Secretary-General for Management on whether or not to grant such requests.
  • Timeline: The request for a management evaluation must be done within 60 calendar days of the time you received notification of the administrative decision you are contesting.
  • In your letter, explain clearly the decision you wish to contest, who made the decision and when, how it violates your rights and why you believe the decision was improper or unlawful. Staff members requesting management evaluation are strongly encouraged to seek advice and assistance of counsel – either with OSLA or private counsel – at this stage in order to become fully acquainted with their rights.
  • You will receive a reasoned response within 30 days, if you work at New York Headquarters, and within 45 days, if you work at an office away from Headquarters. If you do not receive a response within these time limits, you may still proceed with your appeal by filing an application to UN Dispute Tribunal within 90 days of the date when you should have received a response to your request for a management evaluation.
  • If the decision you wish to contest concerns the imposition of a disciplinary measure, or if it is a decision taken by the administration based on the advice of an expert or advisory board, such as the Advisory Board on Compensation Claims, a management evaluation is not required. In such cases, the decision can be appealed directly to the UN Dispute Tribunal.

UN Dispute Tribunal

  • If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the management evaluation, or with a decision based on the recommendation of an expert or advisory board, you may contest the decision by filing an application to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal (UN Dispute Tribunal).
  • If the decision you wish to contest concerns the imposition of a disciplinary measure, you can file an application directly to the UN Dispute Tribunal.
  • Timeline: An application to the UN Dispute Tribunal must be filed within 90 calendar days of receipt of the management evaluation outcome (or of the expiry of the relevant response period for the management evaluation if no response was provided). If you wish to contest the imposition of a disciplinary measure, or a decision taken by the administration based on the advice of an expert or advisory board, the application should be filed within 90 days of when you were notified of the decision.
  • Any new application should be filed directly with the Registry of the UN Dispute Tribunal through the eFiling portal, which will direct it to the appropriate Registry. If you are unable to make your filing through the eFiling portal, you may submit your application, either electronically (by e-mail) or in hard copy, to the Registry. In this case, you should make sure to direct your application to the appropriate Registry, based on the location of the office or duty station where you were serving at the time when the administrative decision you wish to appeal was taken (for this purpose, please refer to Distribution of Cases Between Different UNDT Locations in the Tribunal's website.
  • The UN Dispute Tribunal will examine the facts of the case, conduct oral hearings as necessary, and take a decision on the matter. Judgments of the UN Dispute Tribunal are binding.
  • At the request of a staff member, the Dispute Tribunal may suspend, for the duration of the management evaluation, the implementation of a contested administrative decision that is the subject of an ongoing management evaluation,
  • In addition, the Dispute Tribunal may, at any time during the proceedings, order an interim measure, which is without appeal, to provide temporary relief to either party.

UN Appeals Tribunal

  • A judgment by the UN Dispute Tribunal or the UNRWA Dispute Tribunal can be appealed to the UN Appeals Tribunal by either the staff member or the Administration.
  • An appeal to the UN Appeals Tribunal must be filed within 60 calendar days of the receipt of the judgment of the UN Dispute Tribunal or the UNRWA Dispute Tribunal, or within 30 calendar days of the receipt of an interlocutory order of the UN Dispute Tribunal or the UNRWA Dispute Tribunal.
  • A decision taken by the head of an agency or entity that has accepted the jurisdiction of the UN Appeals Tribunal may be appealed within 90 calendar days of the receipt of the decision.
  • A decision of the Standing Committee acting on behalf of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board may be appealed to the UN Appeals Tribunal within 90 calendar days of the receipt of the decision.
  • Appeals should be directed to the Registry of the UN Appeals Tribunal in New York through the eFiling portal. If you are unable to make your filing through the eFiling portal, you may submit your appeal, either electronically (by e-mail) or in hard copy, to the Registry.

Can I still try mediation or other informal methods even if I have filed an appeal?

  • At any time, the option of seeking a solution through informal means remains open, but it is important to remember that informal resolution is more effective at an early stage.
  • The deadlines applicable to filing applications with the United Nations Dispute Tribunal may be extended to allow for informal dispute resolution, including mediation.