Recap and latest developments on the review of the jurisdictional setup of the UN common system

Why a Review of the Jurisdictional set up of the UN Common System?

On December 27, 2019, at the 52nd plenary meeting of its 74th session, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolutions 74/255A and 74/255B under the agenda item “United Nations Common System.” In Resolution 74/255, paragraph 8, the General Assembly “notes with concern that the organizations of the United Nations common system face the challenge of having two independent administrative tribunals with concurrent jurisdiction among the organizations of the common system […].”

Who is in charge of the review and how is it being carried out?

The Secretary-General, in his capacity as Chair of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), is to conduct a review of the jurisdictional setup of the common system. The review will include a survey of the jurisprudence of both tribunals on ICSC decisions as well as options for promoting consistency in the implementation of ICSC decisions in the context of two independent Tribunal systems. Designated Focal Points would be responsible for coordinating the inputs of organizations or specialized agencies.

The review is to be submitted to the General Assembly Secretariat in December 2020, pursuant to the following timeline:

  • Source documents used in the review will be shared in September.
  • In early October, a first draft will be distributed through designated Focal Points in each entity for input within three weeks.
  • In mid-October, a meeting of the Legal Advisers Network would convene to discuss the first draft.
  • In mid-November, a second draft of the report would be circulated for input within two weeks.
  • In mid-December, the final draft will be sent for processing in order to be ready for the General Assembly.

What role for FICSA in the review?

In late August, the Presidents of FICSA and the two sister federations requested a meeting with the UN Under-Secretary-General to obtain further information about the review as well as clarification about how staff interests would be protected. FICSA and its sister federations requested full transparency in the review process and assurances that staff voices would be included at every possible step.

On 1 October 2020, in its Communication 64/20, FICSA provided all of its members an overview of the review process, as well as relevant timelines and source documents;

On 9 October 2020, in its Communication 68/20, FICSA announced to its members for their information and comments the availability of the First Draft Review of the jurisdictional setup of the UN common system in the Member’s Area of the FICSA website (https://ficsa.org/members-area.html). The availability of the first draft for comment by all members ensured meaningful consultation of all staff members. FICSA received comments on the first draft until 26 October 2020.

What inputs did FICSA provide so far?

On 29 October 2020, FICSA’s comments on the First Draft Review were sent to the UN Principle Legal Officer. Notably, in its reply to specific proposals, FICSA rejects the establishment of a single administrative tribunal, the establishment of a single appellate mechanism for the UN common system, and recourse to the International Court of Justice. FICSA deems these proposals as not being narrowly tailored to reach the review’s objective of promoting “consistency in the implementation of ICSC decisions and recommendations in the context of the two independent Tribunal systems.” FICSA further reserves comments on the establishment of a Joint ILOAT-UNAT Chamber as the proposal is too general for FICSA to understand the implications forstaff members. FICSA furthermore reserves the right to put forward other options for consideration in the coming weeks and in the second draft.

The way forward

FICSA awaits the circulation of the Second Draft Review in mid-November for further review and input by FICSA members. The deadline for comments is set two weeks from the date of circulation of the Second Draft Review.

In mid-December, the final draft will be sent for processing in order to be ready for the General Assembly.

If not yet done, members are strongly encouraged to contact their entity’s Focal Point to ensure that their interest are known and protected at an organizational level.

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