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Insights / News
The First International Conference of American States held in Washington DC between October 1889 and April 1890 approved the establishment of the International Union of American Republics that was subsequently reconstituted as the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1948 when the Charter of the OAS was signed in Bogotá, Colombia.
The OAS brings together all 35 member states of the Americas and constitutes the main political, juridical, and social governmental forum in the hemisphere. In addition, it has granted permanent observer status to 69 states, as well as to the EU.
As with most international organisations, the OAS has set up an administrative tribunal that acts as the final appellate body for institutional disputes. The OAS Administrative Tribunal is an autonomous organ competent to hear those cases in which members of the staff of the General Secretariat of the OAS allege non-observance of the conditions established in their respective appointments or contracts or violation of the General Standards for the operation of the General Secretariat or other applicable provisions, including those concerning the Retirement and Pension Plan of the General Secretariat.
The competence of the Tribunal has been extended to the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture by the Special Agreement signed in February 1976.
For the adjudication of any disputes, the internal legislation of the OAS takes precedence over general principles of employment law and the laws of any member State including United States/Washington DC labour law.
The Tribunal is composed of six members elected by the General Assembly to serve for terms of six years. Each member must be a national of an OAS member State, but no two members may be nationals of the same member State. The composition of the Administrative Tribunal reflects the two major legal traditions of the Hemisphere, namely the common-law and civil-law traditions.
Almost all International Organisations are subject to the jurisdiction of an international administrative tribunal (IAT). IATs generally exist in the realm of the public international law system. Most international organisations have provided for some sort of internal justice mechanism to address institutional disputes resulting in dozens of IATs, including the three largest and most established: the World Bank Administrative Tribunal; the United Nations’ two tier system: the UN Dispute Tribunal and the UN Appeals Tribunal; and the International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) in Geneva. In the EU, the General Court is the equivalent IAT for disputes arising out of administrative decisions taken by European institutions. On the African continent, the African Development Bank Administrative Tribunal in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, is the most prominent IAT.
Outer Temple’s International Organisations Law barristers have unrivalled experience in the laws, systems and frameworks of international organisations, having been instructed in cases involving more than 30 international institutions worldwide. Such organisations enjoy a number of privileges and immunities and, as a result, have created internal justice systems that are not bound by domestic jurisdictions.
Most international organisations are created by multilateral treaties concluded between sovereign states and they are, therefore, products of public international law. All cases relating to international organisations require expert lawyers with an understanding of the complex workings of each institution, whether they deal with corruption, regulation, employment rights, whistleblowing or policy making in the context of advocacy, litigation, investigations and advisory work.
Members of the OTC International Organisations Law Team have been instructed before the following international tribunals and bodies:
Alex Haines is a specialist in international law and commercial crime, with particular expertise in the extensive field of international organisations law and Multilateral Development Bank sanctions systems.
Victoria Brown is a civil and commercial practitioner with a particular focus on employment and pensions, both in England & Wales and international organisations.
You can find out more about our International Organisations practice on our expertise page or contact Sam Carter on +44 (0)203 989 6669 or Colin Bunyan on +44 (0)20 7427 4886 for a confidential discussion.