Internal Justice System
With the introduction of the new Internal Justice System in 2009, much hope was created in the ranks of staff. However, with much disappointment, the internal justice’s record over the last 10 years is far from satisfactory and the system suffers from many shortcomings leading to a crippled justice for the staff who is not well informed nor fully understands how the system works.
The lack of sufficient resources to fund the Office of Staff Legal Assistance (OSLA) handicap its capacity to efficiently assist staff or even assist at all. For staff in missions, timeframes for filing a case are too tight and many shortcomings lead to an excessive settlement process length. Latest statistics show that between 2009 and 2016, disputes involving staff in peacekeeping missions required an average duration of 501 and 477 days, respectively, for judgments rendered in full for the winning staff member and those rendered in part by the Dispute Tribunal (UNDT) in Nairobi.
In addition, the system of referrals for accountability is inefficient and there is a sense of politicization of the Appeal Tribunal (UNAT) whereby many of the UNDT judgments that are in favor of staff end being overturned. Disturbingly, it is also noticed that cases regarding appointment, promotion or termination where the UNDT has ruled administrative decisions as unlawful, the Administration has systemically chosen to overlook the possibility of rescinding its decisions as one of the options provided in the Tribunal’s Statute, which undermines the trust in the Internal Justice.
Moreover, and not at all least important, the system lacks measures of protection against retaliation for parties and witnesses who appear before the Tribunals.
We are alarmed by such and other weaknesses, especially in view of the new Delegation of Authority where a robust system of justice is paramount. We shall pursue, through the Internal Justice Council and the Staff-Management Committee (SMC), to address many of such shortcomings by, but not limited to:
- Requesting more communication to provide the staff with ample information on rules of procedure of the Internal Justice System;
- Requesting that the Office of Staff Legal Assistance be funded by the Organization and enough funds be made available;
- Requesting that timeframes for filing be reviewed to be more practically reasonable;
- Requesting the appointment of more Staff Legal Assistance Officers and Tribunal Judges;
- Bringing back the question of class action and requesting that Staff Unions be allowed the option to represent staff before the Tribunal;
- Requesting that the system of referrals for accountability be reviewed to ensure that administrative decisions’ makers whose decisions are found unlawful are held accountable;
- Further exploring means to eliminate any potential political influence on the UNAT;
- Requesting and working on establishing a policy framework for rescinded unlawful decisions, and exploring solutions to remove operational and administrative obstacles to rescission;
- Working on deterrents to opting for compensation in lieu of rescission for cases where staff members’ appointment, promotion or continuation of service was denied by a decision found to be unlawful;
- Strengthening policies with respect to protection against retaliation for whistleblowers, complainants, and witnesses by increasing sanctions against retaliatory actions.
For more information on Accountability, click here.