Statement by Mr. Yasuo Kishimoto
First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
Agenda item 128: Administration of Justice
Sixty-first Session of the United Nations General Assembly
22 March 2007
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like at the outset to express our gratitude to the representatives of the Secretary for introducing the relevant reports to the Committee. I should also like to thank the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, Mr. Rajat Saha, for its report.
My delegation appreciates the tremendous efforts made by the Redesign Panel and the Secretary-General to analyze the shortcomings and deficiencies of the current internal justice system and to issue a prescription for overcoming them after an extensive consultation process involving the relevant offices, staff representatives and staff at large. We believe that the outcome addresses the many important questions that need to be settled. We concur with its thrust, which is that the internal justice system as presently constituted has many drawbacks in terms of both its structure and its operations, and we therefore now need to have a fresh look at it in order for justice to be administered better.
If we are to be successful in carrying out our important work, we need to realize that remodeling the justice system will have a significant impact on staff-management relations and the way in which both management and staff will perform. There is no doubt that the report of the Panel and the note of the Secretary-General are an excellent basis for discussing the kind of mechanisms that we need and that will endure for the next half century. As the task is of unprecedented scale and complexity, however, my delegation feels strongly that we must also look into the current justice system carefully ourselves and scrutinize the effects of the proposals made by the Panel and Secretary-General.
Regarding the overall internal justice system, we believe that the focus must be on strengthening the informal system and relying on it to manage conflict resolution effectively and ensure that administrative operations are efficient. Now is the appropriate time to evaluate the effectiveness and mandate of the current Ombudsman Office, which was established in 2002, and to assess the role it has played in ensuring its effectiveness through its extensive outreach activities. We share the view the function of mediation will be the core role the future Ombudsman office will play and it should be secured by clearly defining the role of mediation in such a way that its outcome is not duplicated in any formal litigation.
The structure and scope of the formal system is determined by the legal regulations that are in place, and it is therefore important that the new system be consistent with the legal responsibilities and obligations of the staff. The subsequent legal discussion in the Sixth Committee on the reports of the Panel and Secretary-General gives us the basis we need to create the new system with a view to ensuring legal stability. My delegation is of the view that an independent and professional two-tier system should be formed based on what is legally and administratively appropriate. In this regard, it is imperative to compare the advantages and disadvantages of the current system (JAB, JDC) and the Secretary-General's proposal for the UNDT and UNAT as well as making the latter a two-chamber system, based on the discussion in the Sixth Committee. Meanwhile, it is important that the formal system excludes abuses and ensure indemnification for violations of legal rights. The scope and jurisdiction of the formal system should therefore be clearly defined along with the nature of the collaboration and work of our committee and the Sixth Committee.
My delegation knows that consideration will be given to disciplinary proceedings by the Intersessional Working Group of the SMCC. We believe that the core function of the future justice system will depend on how we integrate disciplinary proceedings into the formal and informal systems. I believe that Member States consequently need input on this consultation in order for us to discuss the overall justice system.
We have some difficulty understanding what the proposed Office of Staff Legal Assistance would do. We believe that for the justice system to be utilized properly, the level of education and legal understanding of the staff is critical. However, this is not a new requirement. I believe the current system, too, sinks or swims based on the success or failure of the Secretariat's efforts to disseminate information to staff and those efforts should be continued on a regular basis regardless of whether the system is reformed. It would thus seem unnecessary for the Secretariat also to provide legal services or a representative whose responsibility would be to file claims against the United Nations for staff.
My delegation stressed the importance of ensuring the administration of justice in the UN system, and we are committed to taking part in the discussion in a constructive manner. In light of the substantial impact on the whole system that we mentioned, however, we believe it would be prudent not to make haste in advancing our important work.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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