A recent excellent blog post by Ms Nadine Kaddoura highlights an attempt at making unilateral changes to the UN’s Dispute Tribunal.
And so unknown to the staff, the Secretary-General has discreetly proposed to the General Assembly to amend the UNDT Statute of the UN Dispute Tribunal in his report A/77/156 on the administration of justice.
The Secretary-General proposes (in para 128 of the SG’s report to the GA A/77/156) to add a paragraph 4 to article 9 of the statute of the Dispute Tribunal to read as follows:
“In hearing an application to appeal an administrative decision imposing a disciplinary measure, the Dispute Tribunal shall pass judgment on the application, determining whether the decision was a reasonable exercise of the Secretary-General’s authority based on the evidence before the Secretary-General at the time the administrative decision was taken. The Applicant shall bear the burden of showing that the decision was not a reasonable exercise of the Secretary-General’s authority.”
The proposal, if adopted, shifts the burden of proof to the Applicant, which is a skewed approach to reversing roles in the process as the UNAT has provided that “there is no overall onus on the staff member to prove his innocence.”
It further deprives the Tribunals of its core function: assessing whether the evidence that the SG and his legal officers present meets the required standard of proof. Therefore, the Tribunal’s judgments will become a de facto rubber stamp for the SG’s decisions.
The full blog post of Ms Kaddoura’s excellent blog which covers many aspects of the UN’s Internal Justice System can be read here:
The staff unions had collectively written to the UN Secretary general when they learned of the intended attempt to unilaterally change the UNDT statute on the 4th of October, expressing our grave concern and firm objections to these proposals.
I’ve attached this letter here for you to take a look at.