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7. Personnel Policy -- The Administrative Tribunal's Awards and the Secretary-General's Report
United Nations Division: What promises to be an extremely controversial issue, United Nations personnel policy, will be debated by the Fifth Committee on or about November 18. The Secretary-General has now issued his report on the subject. It will probably be considered by the Committee before the most contentious problem of all, the supplementary appropriation for awards totalling $189,370 made by the Administrative Tribunal to dismissed United Nations personnel. This order of proceedings has been suggested by Mr. Selwyn Lloyd of the United Kingdom and will probably be followed despite United States opposition.
In his report the Secretary-General asks the General Assembly to appropriate the money for the compensation awards and suggests that the staff regulations be amended to facilitate future dismissals. The suggested amendment would enable the Secretary-General to dismiss permanent employees "for the good of the United Nations." This is a power he can now exercise only against temporary employees. Another suggestion in the report is that staff regulations should be changed to prohibit any form of political activity by United Nations employees except voting and such a largely non-political activity as serving on a school-board or similar organization. The Secretary-General states his opinion in the report that it is a "serious matter" for an employee of the United Nations to cite the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution in order not to answer questions asked in investigations of subversive activities. The report suggests, however, that such an employee should not be dismissed without further investigations. If these provide an explanation which removes the unfavourable implications of reliance on the Fifth Amendment, the dismissal would not be justified on the basis of "standards proper to the United Nations".
Consultations on personnel policy at the General Assembly are now taking place among Commonwealth representatives and with the United States delegation. The awards at the Administrative Tribunal are a cause of great concern, because the United States attitude towards them is contrary to that of some at least of the Commonwealth countries. The United States representatives have provided the Canadian delegation in confidence with a draft of the statement to be made by their delegate on the Fifth Committee. In it the United States call upon the Committee to reject entirely the awards made by the Administrative Tribunal on the grounds that it exceeded its jurisdiction and substituted its judgement for that of the Secretary-General concerning what standards of conduct are required of United Nations personnel. Specifically, the United States statement maintains that in 8 out of 11 cases in which awards were made, the Secretary-General was correct in dismissing the employees summarily on the grounds of serious misconduct and that his decision could not be questioned by the Tribunal except on the grounds of bad faith, arbitrariness or failure to follow the proper procedure. The United States also supports the Secretary-General's decision in the other three cases and states that it is the duty of the General Assembly to review and reject these awards in passing an appropriation. This does not constitute an appeal contrary to the Statute of the Tribunal, since it is merely a review by the superior body of a decision made by a subordinate tribunal, and not an appeal by a party to the dispute from the decision of a court of coordinate authority.
The United States statement on the awards was summarized in a memorandum presented to the Department on November 5 in a formal démarche asking for our support for their position. Since Canadian policy in the matter is now under active consideration, no commitments were made.
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