Chapter VI. Selected legal opinions of the secretariats of the United Nations and related intergovernmental organizations

SELECTED LEGAL OPINIONS OF THE SECRETARIATS OF THE

UNITED NATIONS AND RELATED INTERGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

  1. Legal opinions of the Secretariat of the United Nations

    (Issued or prepared by the Office of Legal Affairs)

    COMMERCIAL ISSUES

    1. USE OF UNITED NATIONS NAME AND EMBLEM BY NATIONAL UNITED NATIONS ASSOCIATIONS AND THEIR LOCAL AFFILIATES — GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 92 (I) OF 7 DECEMBER 1946

      Memorandum to the Senior Legal Officer, Legal Liaison Office in Geneva

    2. This is in response to your 14 July 1997 memorandum on the above-referenced subject to the Legal Counsel, which was referred to me for response. You seek advice in connection with a communication from the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA), requesting clarification as to the use of the United Nations emblem by local United Nations Associations.

      The United Nations emblem

    3. The use of the United Nations name and emblem is reserved for official purposes of the Organization in accordance with General Assembly resolution 92

      (I) of 7 December 1946. Furthermore, that resolution expressly prohibits any use of the United Nations name and emblem in any other way without the authorization of the Secretary-General and recommends that Member States take the necessary measures to prevent the use thereof without the authorization of the Secretary-General. The United Nations name is also protected by the national laws of some States and by article 6 ter, section (1) (b), of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, revised in Stockholm on 14 July 1967.

      Guidelines for the use of the United Nations emblem by United Nations

      Associations

    4. Based on the limitations placed by General Assembly resolution 92 (I) and the practices and policies of the Organization, the Organization developed guidelines for considering cases involving use of the United Nations emblem by outside bodies. As far as United Nations Associations are concerned, the guidelines made a distinction between United Nations Associations with national and local coverage. The relevant section of guidelines reads as follows:

      “I. United Nations Associations

      “(a) United Nations Associations with national coverage may be permitted to use the United Nations emblem, side by side with the national insignia of the country concerned, on stationery and publications.

      “(b) United Nations Associations with local coverage (cities, towns, boroughs, counties, universities, etc.) may be permitted to use the emblem. However, in these cases, the emblem should not be placed side by side with the insignia of the local body. The emblem should appear quite separately, and some distance away from the insignia of the local body, with the words ‘Our hope for mankind’ placed below the emblem.” (emphasis added)

      Current use of the United Nations name and emblem by the World Federation of

      United Nations Associations

    5. As was correctly stated in the WFUNA letter to you, WFUNA was authorized by the United Nations to use the United Nations emblem with the acronym “FMANU/WFUNA” around the globe, keeping the olive branches on the sides (hereinafter “WFUNA emblem”). However, it was also stated that WFUNA “affiliates” have been using the WFUNA emblem, “with their acronyms”, since WFUNA received the authorization. It is not clear what is specifically meant by “affiliates” in this context. If those “affiliates” are merely local officers of WFUNA in particular countries, i.e., they are part of WFUNA, then there would be no legal objections against their using the WFUNA emblem.

    6. If, however, by “affiliates” WFUNA means local United Nations Associations, then their use of the emblem, without the express authorization of the United Nations, is inappropriate. It must be unequivocally clear that the authorization granted to WFUNA to use the WFUNA emblem should in no way be interpreted as a delegation of the authority which, according to General Assembly resolution 92 (I), resides in the Secretary-General to authorize the use of the United Nations name and emblem by entities outside the United Nations system. Therefore, mere association of United Nations Associations (national or local) with WFUNA does not imply that the authorization granted to WFUNA to use the United Nations emblem is automatically extended to all its members. United Nations Associations, like any other organization, should request authorization to use the United Nations emblem from the Organization.

    7. Additionally, WFUNA informed you that the organization’s Constitution does not allow it to recognize more than one United Nations Association “from any state or territory” and that problems had arisen due to local laws protecting the freedom of association. He informed you that local groups can possibly form “United Nations Associations depending on the local law regarding registration of Associations”. While local laws which protect the freedom of association in every country would allow organizations to pursue the same goals as those of the United Nations Associations

      (i.e., support the activities of the United Nations), local laws cannot authorize the use of the United Nations name or emblem by those newly created bodies, which use must be authorized by prior authorization of the Organization. Moreover, as indicated in paragraph 2 above, General Assembly resolution 92 (I) requested Member States to enact legislation to prevent the unauthorized use of the name, emblem or initials of the United Nations. Therefore, any organization using the name, emblem or initials of the United Nations without authorization from the Secretary-General is doing so in violation of international and, possibly, national laws.

    8. WFUNA asked specific questions as to whether a United Nations Association “legally established in a country” can use the United Nations emblem even if WFUNA cannot admit it as a member since it recognizes only one United Nations Association from any State or territory. In response to that question, it should be emphasized that such local United Nations Associations must request and receive authorization from the United Nations to use the United Nations name in their titles. Similarly, such entities would need a separate and prior authorization from the United Nations to use the United Nations emblem. If any of these local “United Nations Associations” have obtained authorization to use the United Nations name and/or emblem, it does not matter that such local United Nations Association cannot be admitted as a member of WFUNA.

    9. As to the second question posed by WFUNA (whether a United Nations Association which is no longer affiliated with WFUNA can continue to use the United Nations emblem), the response is in the affirmative, provided that this United Nations Association received a proper authorization from the United Nations to use the emblem. As stated in paragraph 4 above, the authority to grant authorization to use the United Nations emblem resides in the Secretary-General. Therefore, a United Nations Association that has been duly authorized by the Secretary-General to use the United Nations emblem does not automatically lose its authorization to use the emblem simply because it is no longer associated with WFUNA.

    10. Given the importance that the Organization attaches to the use of its name and emblem, we would appreciate any information that WFUNA may have on the use of the name and emblem by United Nations Associations inconsistent with the advice provided above.

      13 January 1998

      PERSONNEL

    11. REIMBURSEMENT OF INCOME TAXES FOR STAFF MEMBERS OF DUAL NATIONALITY — PERMANENT UNITED STATES RESIDENTS — VISA STATUS OF STAFF MEMBERS — STAFF REGULATION 3.3 (F)

      Memorandum to the Deputy Chief, Income Tax Unit/Office of Programme

      Planning, Budget and Accounts

    12. Please refer to your memorandum dated 4 November 1997 requesting our advice regarding two issues: First, you seek clarification regarding the eligibility for reimbursement of income taxes for staff members of dual nationality where one nationality is United States but another nationality has been recognized by the Organization under the Staff Regulations and Rules and, more specifically, staff rule 104.8(a), which provides that “in the application of the Staff Regulations and Staff Rules, the United Nations shall not recognize more than one nationality for each staff member”. Secondly, you seek clarification as to whether the Organization must take specific action to encourage permanent residents of the United States to sign the “waiver” or relinquish their permanent resident status and obtain a G-4 visa.

  2. First issue

    1. Regarding the eligibility for reimbursement of income taxes of staff members with dual nationality where one nationality is United States but the other na-

      tionality has been recognized by the Organization for administrative purposes, you will note that staff regulation 3.3(f) provides as follows:

      “(f) Where a staff member is subject both to staff assessment under this plan and to national income taxation in respect of the salaries and emoluments paid to him or her by the United Nations, the Secretary-General is authorized to refund to him or her the amount of staff assessment collected from him or her provided that:

      (i) The amount of such refund shall in no case exceed the amount of his or her income taxes paid and payable in respect of his or her United Nations income;

      (ii) If the amount of such income taxes exceeds the amount of staff assessment, the Secretary-General may also pay to the staff member the amount of such excess;

      (iii) Payments made in accordance with the provisions of the present regulation shall be charged to the Tax Equalization Fund;

      (iv) A payment under the conditions prescribed in the three preceding subparagraphs is authorized in respect of dependency benefits and post adjustments, which are not subject to staff assessment but may be subject to national income taxation.”

    2. Staff regulation 3.3(f) implements the general principle of equality of...

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