UN system staff members, wherever they may work, are bound by the Organization’s Staff Regulations and Rules and administrative issuances, and, must also comply with the local laws of the country they work in. At the same time, UN staff members cannot take workplace disputes to local courts and authorities, due to the privileges and immunities the UN has from the laws of Member States. The UN’s special status leaves the Organization with the responsibility to provide its own staff with an internal justice system which is fair and impartial and which can effectively resolve disputes arising from staff members’ employment.

The UN’s internal system for the administration of justice is a means for UN staff to try to resolve dispute informally, and if informal means do not work, to resolve disputes formally through the management evaluation process, UN Dispute Tribunal and UN Appeals Tribunal.

The current internal justice system was approved by the General Assembly, and came into effect on 1 July 2009. The goal at the time was to create an adequately resourced and decentralized system which is independent, transparent and professional, and whose working methods are consistent with international law, and the principles of the rule of law, and due process.

In creating the system, the General Assembly emphasized the need to try informal resolution of work-related disputes.

If informal resolution attempts do not lead to a satisfactory outcome for a staff member, they have the option to then initiate a formal process. If the staff member chooses to do so, he/she should feel confident that the UN’s internal justice system will be accessible and professional, independent judges will hear their case, the judgment will be fair, and they can have access to professional legal advice.

For more information see: A Staff Member’s Guide to Resolving Disputes

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