SELECTED LEGA L OPINIONS OF THE SECRETARIATS OF THE
UNITEDNATIONS AND REL ATED INTERGOVERNMENTAL
A. L S UN
(Issued or prepared by the Oce of Legal Aairs)
1. Privileges and immunities
(a) Note to the Ministry of Foreign Aairs of [State], concerning privileges
and immunities extended to locally-recruited sta who are nationals of [State]
A 10 5 C U N—A V C-
P I U N, 1946—N -
—D V C D R,
1961, —I -
e Legal Counsel of t he UnitedNations presents her compliments to the Minister for
Foreign Aairs of [State] and has the honour to refer to the ongoing negotiations be tween
the [UnitedNations entity] and [State] for the establishment of a [UnitedNations entity]
oce in [State].
In this regard, the Legal Counsel understands that several meetings have taken
place between ocials of [UnitedNations entity] and t he authorities of [State] to discuss
the establishment of the [United Nations entity] oce, including informal discussions
with [Name], the Permanent Representative of [State] to the UnitedNations in [City] on
[date], as well as meetings on [dates] with various individuals in the Ministry of Foreign
Aairs in [City], including (i) [Name] and [Name] from [Oce], (ii) [Name], the [Title]
of [Oce], (iii) [Name], [Title] of [Oce], (iv) [Name] from [Oce] and (v) [Name], the
The Legal Counsel further underst ands, based on these meetings, that the
Government of [State] has taken the position that privileges and immunities may not be
extended to members of the [UnitedNations entity] oce who are nationals of [State]. e
Legal Counsel w ishes to note that the Government’s position is in direct contradiction
* is chapter cont ains legal opinions and ot her similar legal memor anda and documents.
to its obligations to the UnitedNations under international law and the Legal Counsel
respectfu lly requests that the Government of [State] reconsider its position.
e Legal Counsel w ishes to point out that as a member of the UnitedNations, [State]
is bound by the Charter of t he UnitedNations. e status of the UnitedNations and its sta
members in [State] is governed by Article 105 of the UnitedNations Charter. Pursua nt to
paragraph 1 of Art icle 105 of the Charter of the UnitedNations, “[t]he Organization sha ll
enjoy in the territory of each of its Members such priv ileges and immunities as are neces-
sary for the fu llment of its purposes.” Paragraph 2 of Article 105 of the UnitedNations
Charter provides that “[r]epresentatives of the Members of the UnitedNations and ocials
of the Organization shall simila rly enjoy such privileges and immunities as are neces-
sary for the independent exercise of t heir functions in connection w ith the Organization”.
Finally, paragraph 3 of Ar ticle 105 stipulates that “[t]he General Assembly may make rec-
ommendations with a view to determining the det ails of the application of par agraph 1
… of this Article or may propose conventions to the Members of the UnitedNations for
In order to give eect to Article 105 of the UnitedNations Char ter, the General
Assembly of the UnitedNations adopted the Convention on the Privi leges and Immunities
of the UnitedNations, 1946 (“the General Convention”),* which was acceded to by [State]
on [date], without reservation. As an integra l part of the UnitedNations, [UnitedNations
entity] is entitled to the privi leges and immunities provided for in the Genera l Convention.
e Legal Counsel w ishes to note that the legal regime governing the privi leges and
immunities of the UnitedNations and its ocia ls is separate and distinc t from the regime
governing the privi leges and immunities enjoyed by States and their diplomatic personnel
as codied in t he Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.** Accordingly, when consid-
ering the status of UnitedNations ocia ls who are national sta, reference must be made
to the provisions of the General Convention and relevant General Assembly resolutions
and not to practice under the Vienna C onvention on Diplomatic Relations.
Pursuant to art icle V, section 18, subparagraph (b) of the General Convention, of-
cials of the UnitedNations are entit led to a various range of privileges and immunit ies,
including immunit y from legal process in respect of words spoken or written and a ll acts
performed by them in their ocial capacity as well as immunity from nationa l service
obligations. In setti ng forth these privileges and immunities, the General Assembly did
not dierentiate between internationa lly recruited sta and nationally recru ited sta. It
should be noted in this rega rd that General Assembly resolution 76 (I) specical ly provides
for “the granting of priv ileges and immunities referred to in Ar ticle V ... to all members of
the sta of the UnitedNations, w ith the exception of those who are recruited loca lly and
are assigned to hourly rates”. erefore, locally-recruited sta members from [State] who
are not assigned to hourly rates als o enjoy the privileges and immunities of a rticle V of the
e Legal Counsel w ishes to point out that it is a fundamenta l principle of interna-
tional law that internationa l treaty obligations may not be diminished on the basis of t he
national legislation of [State]. According to article 27 of the Vien na Convention on the Law
* UnitedNations, Treaty Series, vol. 1, p. 15, and vol. 90, p. 327 (corrigendum to vol. 1).
** Ibid., vol. 500, p. 95.
of Treaties, 1969,* which codies cu stomary international law applicable to international
treaties, “[a] party may not invoke the provisions of its interna l law as justication for its
failure to perform a treat y.” is principle is also reected in section 34 of the General
Convention, according to which the Government of [State] undertook an obligat ion to be
“in a position under its own law to give eect to the terms” of the General Convention.
Accordingly, the provisions of national legislat ion in [State] cannot be a basis for [State]
to fail to ful l its obligations which were committed to by the Government when [State]
acceded to the General C onvention.
If [State] could invoke its national legislation as a basis for not adher ing to the terms
of the General Convention, this wou ld not only place [State] in an unfair position vis-à-vis
other Member States party to t he General Convention, but would be an interpretation
of the General Convention that would not be wit hin the spirit of the u nderlying provi-
sions of the Charter of the United Nations, and in part icular, paragraph 2 of Ar ticle 2
and paragraphs 1 a nd 2 of Article 105 thereof. Moreover, if the 193 Member States of the
UnitedNations could generally i nvoke provisions of their national legislations as a basis
for failing to fu ll their obligations pursua nt to the Charter of the UnitedNations or other
international treaties , this would undermine the very e ssence of the principle of pacta sunt
servanda set forth in art icle 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, namely
that “every treaty in force is bind ing upon the parties to it and must be performed by t hem
in good faith”.
e Legal Counsel t herefore respectfully requests t he Government of [State] to ensure
that the [UnitedNations entity] Oce Agreement guara ntees the privileges and immuni-
ties provided for under the General C onvention to ocials who are nationals of [State]. In
light of the importa nce of this matter, the Legal Counsel would be gratef ul if the relevant
representatives of the Government of [State] would attend a meeting wit h members of the
Oce of Legal Aa irs, at a mutually convenient time, to discuss t his matter further.
17 January 2013
(b) Note to the Ministry of Foreign Aai rs of [State], concerning privileges
and immunities enjoyed by certain categories of UnitedNations personnel
in [S tate]
A 105 C U N—A V C
P I UN—G A -
76 (I) UN
—G A -
239 (III)—S A P
A T 8 G-
C —R S U-
* UnitedNations, Treaty Series, vol. 1155, p. 331.