Sixth Committee (Legal) — 73rd session

Administration of justice at the United Nations (Agenda item 147)

Documentation

Summary of work

Background (source: A/73/100/Add.1)

The General Assembly had this item on its agenda at its fifty-fifth to fifty-ninth and sixty-first to seventy-second sessions (resolutions 55/258, 57/307, 59/283, 61/261, 62/228, 63/253, 64/119, 64/233, 65/251, 66/237, 67/241, 68/254, 69/203, 70/112, 71/266 and 72/256 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 Assembly established: (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, as well as the Registries for the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the United Nations Appeals Tribunal, the Registries to be overseen by the Principal Registrar; (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 Assembly adopted the statutes of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the United Nations Appeals Tribunal and decided that the Tribunals would be operational as of 1 July 2009 and 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 statutes have been amended at subsequent sessions (resolutions 66/237, 69/203, 70/112 and 71/266).

At its seventy-second session, the General Assembly adopted resolution 72/256, paragraph 37 of which invited the Sixth Committee to consider the legal aspects of the report to be submitted by the Secretary-General, without prejudice to the role of the Fifth Committee as the Main Committee entrusted with responsibilities for administrative and budgetary matters.

Consideration at the seventy-third session

At the 3rd plenary meeting of its seventy-third session, on 21 September 2018, the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the General Committee, referred the agenda item to both the Fifth and the Sixth Committees.

Consideration of the item in the Sixth Committee

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 12th meeting, on 11 October 2018, as well as in informal consultations held on 12, 17 and 18 October and 2 and 5 November. The Sixth Committee considered the legal aspects of the report of the Secretary-General on the administration of justice at the United Nations (A/73/217 and A/73/217/Add.1), the report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services (A/73/167), and the report of the Internal Justice Council (A/73/218), which included, in annexes, the views of the United Nations Appeals Tribunal and the United Nations Dispute Tribunal pursuant to paragraph 36 of resolution 72/256. Following past practice, the views of the Sixth Committee on specific issues relating to the legal aspects of such reports were reflected in a letter from the Chair of the Sixth Committee transmitted to the Fifth Committee (see A/C.5/73/11, annex).

Archived videos of plenary meetings

Video   12th meeting (11 October 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Video   35th meeting (13 November 2018, 10:00am – 1:00pm)

Draft resolution submitted by the Chair of the Fifth Committee following informal consultations

Under the terms of the draft resolution, the Assembly would once again emphasize the importance of the principle of judicial independence in the system of administration of justice, stress the importance of ensuring access for all staff members to the system of administration of justice, regardless of their duty station and reaffirm its decision, contained in paragraph 4 of its resolution 61/261, to establish a new, independent, transparent, professionalized, adequately resourced and decentralized system of administration of justice consistent with the relevant rules of international law and the principles of the rule of law and due process to ensure respect for the rights and obligations of staff members and the accountability of managers and staff members alike (document A/C.5/73/L.10, paras. 3, 4 and 6).

The Assembly would note that staff still appeared to have limited awareness of the system of administration of justice and urge the Secretary-General and the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services to, inter alia, further strengthen and increase their outreach activities (document A/C.5/73/L.10, paras. 7 and 15). The Assembly would also note the new revised policy on protection against retaliation (see ST/SGB/2017/2/Rev.1) and, in this connection, it would request the Secretary-General to report in the context of his report to the seventy-fourth session on how retaliation against staff members who lodge cases before the Tribunals or who appear as witnesses is being addressed (document A/C.5/73/L.10, para. 11). 

With respect to the informal system of administration of justice, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to establish, within existing resources, a pilot project to offer access to informal dispute-resolution services to non-staff personnel, and decide that such pilot project will not affect the mandate of the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services (document A/C.5/73/L.10, paras. 16-17). The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to establish, in assessing the current and projected workload arising from services to non-staff personnel, both quantitative and qualitative analysis, including the type of grievances and the efficiency of case management, and request the Secretary-General to provide this information and, if necessary, further recommendations in the context of his next report (document A/C.5/73/L.10, para. 18).

With respect to the formal system, while recognizing the ongoing positive contribution of the Office of Staff Legal Assistance to the system of administration of justice, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue to ensure the accountability of managers whose decisions have been established to be grossly negligent, according to the applicable Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations, and which have led to litigation and subsequent financial loss, and to report to the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session (document A/C.5/73/L.10, paras. 19 and 20). Further, noting with concern the number of pending applications to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal, the Assembly would request, inter alia,the Secretary-General to invite the Internal Justice Council to monitor and report on the timely delivery of judgments, and the President of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and the Principal Registrar of the Tribunals, to develop and implement a case disposal plan with a real-time case-tracking dashboard and performance indicators on the disposal of caseloads ( document A/C.5/73/L.10, paras. 21-24). The Assembly would approve the addition of four half-time judges in lieu of the three ad litem judges to the Dispute Tribunal and, accordingly, would  decide to amend articles 4.1 and 5 of the statute of the Dispute Tribunal to reflect such addition (document A/C.5/73/L.10, paras. 32-34). The Assembly would also approve the proposal of the Secretary-General to amend article 7 of the rules of procedure of the Appeals Tribunal, as contained in paragraph 120 (g) of the report of the Secretary-General on administration of justice (document A/C.5/73/L.10, para. 40).

Finally, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to prepare, from within existing resources, and with a view to informing the discussions at the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly, a comprehensive analysis, in the context of his next report, of the remedies available to non-staff personnel, including their effectiveness, efforts that could be made to prevent disputes and to resolve existing disputes inter partes, as well as the identification of good practices, drawing on information and proposals contained in his reports submitted to the Assembly at its sixty-sixth, sixty-seventh, seventy-second and seventy-third sessions (document A/C.5/73/L.10, para. 46).

For further information on the action taken by the Fifth Committee on the item, please see the Report of the Fifth Committee on the item (A/73/669) or consult the Fifth Committee website.

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