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Panel to redesign UN’s internal justice system

Annan appoints panel to redesign UN’s internal justice system

12 January 2006 – As part of his campaign of United Nations reform, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed a panel of independent experts to explore redesigning its system of internal justice, a UN spokesman announced today.

“The reform of the United Nations will be incomplete if we do not fix the internal system of justice,” he said. “Staff must have recourse to a system that is efficient and fair. Unless staff have confidence in the system, cynicism could erode morale and undermine our mission.”

The establishment of the Redesign Panel responds to a request by the General Assembly and builds on recently announced initiatives such as the creation of the ethics office, the promulgation of a whistleblower protection policy, and the introduction of more rigorous financial disclosure requirements for senior officials.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the new initiative is a major part of current efforts to strengthen accountability, increase transparency and improve management reform at the United Nations.

Mr. Annan has long felt that the current system of administrative justice has serious shortcomings, in particular its slowness, and needs to be modernized and professionalized.

As it is now constituted, the justice system includes the United Nations Administrative Tribunal and the Joint Appeals Boards based in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi, as well as other, more informal conflict resolution systems.

It has the two-fold function of resolving grievances brought by staff members, and also adjudicating disciplinary cases against staff members brought to it by the organization.

In its recent resolution, the Assembly decided that the Redesign Panel will examine the entire system of administration of justice and propose a new model for resolving cases that is independent, transparent, effective, efficient and adequately resourced, ensuring managerial accountability.

Representing a range of regions and a diverse set of professional expertise, those serving on the Panel will be: Justice Louise Otis of Canada, a dispute resolution expert; Ahmed El-Kosheri of Egypt, who has served on the Administrative Tribunal of the African Development Bank as well as on the International Court of Justice; Diego Garcia-Sayan, the former Foreign Minister of Peru, who supported UN diplomacy in Central America and also served as his country’s Minister of Justice; and Kingsley Moghalu of Nigeria, who has served the UN on four continents in the area of peacekeeping, nation-building, human rights and the rule of law.

The Panel’s Secretary is Sinha Basnayake of Sri Lanka, a former senior UN legal official who has contributed to a number of special UN initiatives, including the Special Panel set up by the Secretary-General to investigate and report on the 2003 bombing of the United Nations Headquarters in Baghdad.

The Panel is expected to start work by 1 February and submit its findings and recommendations to the Assembly by the end of July.

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