UN Broken Justice
broken justice

UN Broken Justice

Here is a real life case of the outrageous abuse of authority that goes on in some organizations of the United Nations. Before we get into this case, these definitions are useful in understanding the legal terms: Appellant is the UN staff member, SLWFP is Special Leave With Full Pay, and Panel is the United Nations Joint Appeals Board (JAB) Panel.

The Case

The United Nations Joint Appeals Board (JAB) in a report dated April 2007 stated:

  • "In her email of 2 February 2007, Ms. Obaid informed Appellant that 'either we follow the established procedures for 3 months with SLWFP and then separation/transfer or UNFPA starts the investigation process leading to the termination of your contract.'"
  • "It was quite plain to the Panel that by 2 February 2007 Ms. Obaid as UNFPA Executive Director had decided to discontinue Appellant's fixed-term appointment either honorably through SLWFP then separation or dishonorably through investigation then termination."
  • "The Panel believed that the termination of Appellant's service under the special circumstances of the present case would cause irreparable injury to his rights as a staff member including the right to due process."
  • "The Panel voiced its deep concern about the manner in which Appellant had been treated."
  • "It also noted Appellant's testimony at the hearing, which was not challenged, that, prior to December 2006 he had received only the highest remarks from his supervisors including Ms. Obaid, about his performance."
  • "The investigation process that Ms. Obaid referred to was nothing other than a formality to be launched to justify a foregone conclusion."
  • "The Panel was thus of the firm view that UNFPA administration had disregarded its own rules and policies and violated Appellant's right to due process when it decided to terminate his appointment in February 2007, and that it represented arbitrary and unreasonable exercise of discretionary authority."
  • "The Panel was convinced that the contested decision, if allowed to be implemented, would cause irreparable injury to the Appellant's rights as a staff member, including his right to due process."

The Recommendation

The Panel recommended "a full-fledged investigation by OIOS or another appropriate investigative body" targeting the UNFPA.

The Decision

In spite of this clear condemnation of the UNFPA administration by the JAB, the UN Secretary-General protected Ms. Thoraya Obaid from any further investigations in his decision dated May 2007 stating "the Secretary-General finds ambiguous the JAB's recommendation to suspend the contested decision 'until a full-fledged investigation by OIOS or another appropriate investigation body is completed'" and in clear disregard to the staff member's rights, the Secretary-General handed the case back to UNFPA who destroyed the career of the staff member, the Secretary-General stated "the Secretary-General has decided that suspension of the contested decision should be granted until the due process procedures provided under the UNFPA Policies and Procedures Manual have been fully complied with". This decision made UNFPA judge and jury in a case where it was not only the defendant but was also found guilty of abusing its authority and disregarding its own rules. The Secretary-General gave the case back to UNFPA to carry out the "due process" while in fact it was UNFPA that violated the due process.

What do you think of the UN Justice System?!

M. Alaadin A. Morsy

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Reformed UN Internal Justice – Myth or Reality?

With almost six months into the arrival on 1 July 2009 of the new UN Internal Justice System, what do we see?
1) Transparency – the website is still in transitional stage or in the making.
2) Once an official website becomes real and alive, then we may probably see how the technology will help make the new system effective and efficient in all fronts.
3) The first case submitted to the newly created Internal Justice System – Common Cause appeal # UNAT 2009-001 was registered/accepted in Aug/Sept 2009, and respondent's answer received.
4) Case file said to be complete waiting to be reviewed by the President of the UNAT; however, no news as yet if this process is gone thru.
5) Made several requests to ascertain how long it would take for the appeal to be reviewed, to be heard and to be decided upon. No news yet.
If UN represents humanity at large, its internal system is seen as microcosm or the macrocosm of the world systems all over.
Despite many imperfections around, the world out has gained some understanding of the following human fundamentals:
1. Who are we and why are we here?2. What is the nature of human nature?3. How and why should we be related to the planet on which we live?4. How are we to live together satisfactorily and sensibly?5. How are we to develop our individual potentialities? and finally,6. What is the relationship between living beings and nature, and how we nurture this relationship(?), so we can validate our understanding to the question # (1) above.
One of the choices before the UN systems is to try and answer the above question as honestly as possible, adopt a suitable framework and deliver a model of human justice that is worth emulating and spreading the word about.
Jai Ho!
V.Muthuswami/Chennai, India