[MSUILR] Revisiting the legal basis to deny international civil servants access to a fundamental right

Author: Mr. Robin Silverstein
Publication Date: 2017
This paper focuses on the tensions between the privileges and immunities of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and the human rights of IGO staff members, and, more specifically, on the consistency of IGO internal justice systems (IJSs) with the human right to a fair hearing. As some of the more established IGOs enter their seventh decade of existence, more attention is being paid to deficiencies in their IJSs.
IGO staff members are required to first litigate staff grievances through an IJS before seeking relief before domestic courts. IGOs are immune from suits in domestic courts, so such courts will typically decline to exercise jurisdiction. This leaves IGO staff members in the lurch.
This paper tracks the development of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and United Nations (UN) IJSs. It assesses the consistency of these two IJSs with European court jurisprudence on the right to a fair trial. The paper concludes that WTO and UN IGO staff members are effectively being deprived of their right to have their civil rights and obligations determined before an independent and impartial tribunal. It concludes with a call for domestic courts, states and civil society to join together to pressure IGOs to bring their IJSs into conformity with the contours of the human right to a fair hearing.

  • A link to the Michigan State University College of Law - International Law Review (MSUILR) can be found here.

  • A link to Mr. Robin Silverstein's online publication can be found here.

  • A .pdf version of Mr. Robin Silverstein's publication is available here.