According to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, sexual harassment cases plague the United Nations. As the WSJ reported, “many U.N. workers who have made or faced accusations of sexual harassment say the current system for handling complaints is arbitrary, unfair and mired in bureaucracy.” GAP’s blog covered this issue in February (see here and here).
According to the WSJ article, the new UN internal justice system, which is set to launch on July 1, will seek to “create a more independent and professional system for resolving disputes, including sexual-harassment claims.” Although the new justice system will be an improvement over the current one, it unfortunately still falls short of both the recommendations made by a panel of independent experts and international human and labor rights standards.
It should be noted that employees at intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) like the United Nations are starting to challenge the immunities of these institutions in national courts (the Brzak case mentioned in the WSJ article is just one of several examples). If an IGO does not offer aggrieved individuals independent, third party dispute resolution, waiver of sovereign immunity is unavoidable to overcome the inherent, structural conflict of interest that occurs when an organization is both the defendant and the judge.
-- Shelley Walden