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Administrative Justice in the UN

Procedural Protections, Gaps and Proposals for Reform

Niamh Kinchin

The UN’s capacity as an administrative decision-maker that affects the rights of individuals is a largely overlooked aspect of its role in international affairs. This book explores the potential for a model of administrative justice that might act as a benchmark to which global decision-makers could develop procedural standards. Applied to the UN’s internal justice, refugee status determination, NGO participation and the Security Council, the global administrative justice model is used to appraise the existing procedural protections within UN administrative decision-making.
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Niamh Kinchin


When decisions made by public authorities affect a person’s rights, duties and obligations there is an expectation, in democratic societies at least, that the administrative processes used to make those decisions will be carried out according to law and in a way that society accepts as ‘just’. In short, we have come to expect administrative justice. Within the domestic context, administrative justice commonly manifests as either a ‘system’ or as normative standards for administrative decision-making and review. But what might administrative justice mean beyond the domestic context? How are procedural rights to be protected and accountability to be ensured in the fluid, evolving and fragmented sphere of the global space?

This book has considered these questions within the context of the United Nations (UN). A number of the internal decision-making processes and mechanisms of the UN and its subsidiaries can be considered as making administrative decisions because they involve an exercise of formal power that directly impacts the rights and interests of individuals and groups. The decision-making functions of these bodies have been reconceived in terms of administrative justice, allowing for the effectiveness of the procedural protections inherent to existing UN decision-making mechanisms to be analysed, gaps to be identified and recommendations for reform to be made.

This book had two principal objectives. The first objective was to create a theoretical framework for administrative justice that could be applied outside of the domestic context. ‘Creating a theoretical framework’ involved the development of...

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