The United Nations is one of the largest international organizations in the world. Its main task is to monitor the peace and security in the world. Employees of such international organizations dare their lives every day for that purpose. Would such employee during the execution of his duty injured or even killed, the UN can then file a claim and the victim can do this? This question, which harks back to the legal personality of international organizations, the World Court had to answer in a 1949 advisory opinion.
Folke Bernadotte was a Swedish diplomat. In 1947 he was appointed by the United Nations mediator for Palestine, then a trust territory of the UN. After initial successes, he was assassinated in September 1948 in Jerusalem by a terrorist organization with a Zionist agenda. The reason would be that he was too pro-Palestinian. The perpetrators are convicted in Israel but were immediately pardoned and released. One of them is even elected shortly afterwards in the Knesset.
The murder by the Security Council condemned the next day as a cowardly terrorist act. The Swedish government suspected involvement of the Israeli government has also expressed this. It was for Sweden even a reason to try to prevent the accession of Israel to the UN.
The ICJ starts here with the observation that states have such an option for sure, but it is questionable whether international organizations, this option also. This question actually relates to whether an international organization like the UN just as states have international legal personality. To answer this question it must first be examined whether - in the case of the UN - the UN Charter gives results in about literal wording. That was not the case here. Therefore, it focuses on the intention behind it. What role and opportunities, the Charter intended to give the UN?
It is in this case has a broad organization with various organs and the practice has shown that the UN even such a position that tasks independently of the Member States. While performing these tasks, the UN moves continuously between all entities that have international legal personality, namely states. It is also the conclusion of the ICJ that it was intended and now the practice is that the UN has rights and obligations fulfilled that demand a high degree of international legal personality. Without which it could not fulfill its duties.
That conclusion does not mean that the UN has the same status as states, but it does mean that it is a subject of international law and that it therefore also has the right to bring in claims against states. This not only has implications for the UN. It also means that other international organizations also have legal personality.
The second part of the question is whether such a claim can be filed in the name of the victim. The only practice where a little can be compared to that when a diplomat exercising his functions, it obtains diplomatic protection. The staff where this is however no diplomats of a state. But the ICJ concludes that so long damage is the result of a breach of a legal obligation by a State against the UN, this also has the right to bring a claim. This is because the UN otherwise impossible tasks can perform are assigned by the Charter.
Thus, so all the questions of the UN in the affirmative to the Court. The main rule of law it can be deduced is that the UN, under the powers conferred legal personality and thus is entitled to file international claims on behalf of its employees. This finding also has implications for other international organizations.
Legal personality of international organizations