The chart below illustrates both the formal and the informal components of the UN internal justice system and the process staff members go through to address their grievances through the system. The chart illustrates how a staff member’s grievance can go to either the informal system, or the formal system, or both at the same time.

The formal system generally begins when a staff member requests a management evaluation of their grievance. The management evaluation is a required first step in the formal system, unless the decision was taken pursuant to advice from technical bodies or in disciplinary matters (in which case it can go directly to the first instance tribunal, the UN Dispute Tribunal). If the management evaluation is not in the staff member's favour, the grievance can go to the UN Dispute Tribunal (UNDT). If the UNDT decision goes against the staff member and they have grounds for appeal, the dispute can go to the final instance tribunal, the UN Appeals Tribunal (UNAT). The administration can also appeal the UNDT decision to UNAT. Decisions of UNAT are binding on the parties.

The informal system consists of informal conflict resolution, provided by UNOMS. During the formal process, the UN Dispute Tribunal can refer disputes to UNOMS for mediation if the parties agree.

Staff members can request the Office of Staff Legal Assistance to provide them with legal assistance and/or representation before any of the dispute resolution mechanisms.

Chart of UN internal justice system

1 At any time during the formal resolution process, staff member and decision-maker can attempt to resolve the dispute informally, with or without assistance of UNOMS.

2 The evaluation entails an objective and reasoned assessment as to whether the contested decision was made in accordance with the rules. It is conducted by the Management Evaluation Unit (MEU) for UN Secretariat entities; UN funds and programmes have a similar function. 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. MEU and OSLA can also suggest informal resolution of the dispute and refer to UNOMS.

3 The UNDT hears and decides cases filed by or on behalf of current and former staff members appealing administrative decisions alleged to be in non-compliance with their terms of appointment or contract of employment.

4 Attempts to resolve a dispute informally do not preclude formal resolution (within deadline) if informal resolution is unsuccessful.

5 UNOMS includes ombudsman and mediation services for the UN Secretariat and UN funds and programmes.

6 For a complete list of these entities, agencies and organizations see: