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Statement by Mr. Yasuo Kishimoto
First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
Agenda item 129: Administration of Justice

Fifth Committee
Sixty-third Session of the United Nations General Assembly
20 November 2008

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

My delegation would like at the outset to express its thanks to Ms. Angela Kane, Under-Secretary-General for Management, Mr. Johnston Barkat, the Ombudsman, and Ms. Susan McLurg, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, for introducing their reports.

My delegation wishes to comment on several points as follows.

Mr. Chairman,

[Informal system]

My delegation has placed great emphasis on reform of the internal justice system. The new system should have a positive impact on staff-management relations and improve the performance of both the staff and the management. From this point of view, as Members States have agreed, our recourse to the justice system should center on the informal system, with a view to restoring trust and credibility. Our previous agreement on the resources for the informal system clearly called for an effective functioning of the regional Ombudsman and informal mediation before the new formal system commences operation. It will be a great loss if we fail to make the most of these resources in 2008.

[Preparation for the new tribunals]

The formal two-tier system should be as efficient as possible. Although there has to be access to the formal system, recourse should be kept to a minimum, in order to avoid abuses of the system. Regarding its scope, it is reasonable that we start the new system for the staff which has access to the current system. It would be appropriate to consider extension of the scope to non-staff at a later stage based on experiences we would accumulate in the new system.

In paragraph 36 of its resolution 62/228, the General Assembly decided to establish by 1 March 2008 the Internal Justice Council to perform key tasks such as compiling a list of eligible judges for the new tribunals and drafting a code of conduct. In paragraph 11, it also requested to ensure that positions in the Office of Administration of Justice be filled as a matter of priority but no later than 1 July 2008. However, as described in the report of the Secretary General A/63/314, these important arrangements have been delayed. As a result, the current situation does not allow us to initiate the new system at the expected time. Member States and the Secretariat have to do their utmost to achieve the goal and we should concentrate on the preparation required within the resolution 62/228.

At the initial stage, judgements by the Dispute Tribunal are to be basically rendered by a single judge. Also, there must be an appropriate restriction on the damages that are awarded in order to avoid unnecessary litigation.

[Transitional measures]

Regarding the transitional measures, we need to ensure an efficient and legally consistent approach. Transferring all cases pending in the current system to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal would automatically produce different resolutions of the pending cases. The current Joint Appeals Board provides staff with a peer review and its decisions are advisory in nature. Our common goal has been to clear the existing backlog before the new system commences operation. Now that we know that is not feasible, we have to look at ways of achieving an appropriate balance. My delegation feels it is unjust that some cases are duly disposed of in the current system while other cases are entitled to be considered under the new system due to a delay in completing the current caseload. My delegation feels it necessary to scrutinize the option of continuing to use the current system until the relevant backlog is cleared. Paying honorariums has to be considered in accordance with the previous resolution.

[Disciplinary proceedings]

My delegation concurs with the ACABQ that the necessary guidelines, procedures and safeguard should be established in order to implement the delegation of authority for disciplinary matters. The secretariat should spend sufficient time to consider proposals in which the described prerequisites and cost effectiveness are warranted. As the Secretary-General correctly notes in his report, inconsistent and arbitrary use of delegated authority will clearly do irreversible damage to staff management.

[Legal services for staff]

Regarding the provision of legal services for staff, we need to combine several approaches. Neither the Organization nor the staff unions can provide those requirements by themselves. While we need to evaluate how to strengthen the work of the Office of Staff Legal Assistance at a later stage based upon our experience, the Secretary-General has to work more actively to achieve towards the establishment of the staff-funded scheme which the General Assembly has repeatedly requested.

[Cost sharing]

The cost-sharing arrangement is one of the most important elements in securing the participating organizations' commitment to the new system. The General Assembly approved the cost-sharing methodology based on headcount and requested the Secretary-General to conclude with the relevant funds and programmes by July 2008. It is regrettable that discussions have not sufficiently progressed. My delegation believes that the reaching agreement on this matter is the prerequisite for putting the new system of administration of justice into operation.

In closing, my delegation wishes to express its commitment to joining constructive discussions of this important agenda item. It hopes that we will reach the necessary consensus and the actions are taken expeditiously.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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