The ILOAT celebrated its 90th anniversary!

The beginning of a new year is an excellent opportunity to look back on the highlights of the previous year. The fast pace at which the CERN Staff Association has to handle current issues unfortunately left us with no time to present a jubilee that deserves to be brought to your attention, the 90th anniversary of the International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT), celebrated on 5 May 2017. [1]







Symposium in honour of the 90th anniversary of the Tribunal
Image: Aung Lwin (International Labour Organization Photo Collection)

On this occasion, two representatives of the CERN Staff Association participated in the symposium on the ”90 years of contribution to the creation of international civil service law”.

Since 1947, the International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) has heard complaints from serving and former officials of international organisations that have recognised its jurisdiction. This is the case for CERN, which states in its Rules and Regulations that a decision may be challenged by filing a complaint to the ILOAT, when the decision is final, i.e. if a decision cannot be challenged internally within the Organization, or when internal procedures have been exhausted (S VI 1.03 Procedures for the settlement of disputes). For the members of the personnel, the ILOAT is therefore the last recourse to assert their rights.

ILOAT is currently open to more than 58 000 international civil servants and former civil servants of 62 international organisations. Following its 125th session in January 2018, its jurisprudence is comprised of more than 3 981 judgements available in both French and English.

Now, let us go back to the symposium held on 5 May 2017.

Among the 200 participants there were panellists including lawyers representing staff unions, complainants, international organisations, as well as judges and legal officers of other courts of justice and administrative tribunals.

The agenda of the day was structured into three sessions:

  • The various facets of the law governing the relations between international civil servants and international organisations;
  • General principles of law applied by the Tribunal;
  • Milestones of the Tribunal’s case law.

Several general principles of law of the international civil service were thus brought forward and illustrated with examples taken from various judgments of the Tribunal. Among these principles, our representatives found the following particularly interesting:

  • duty of care,
  • dignity and undue or unnecessary hardship,
  • good faith and principle of proportionality,
  • principle of equality of arms,
  • duty to protect and assist.

Translating general principles into practice in cases of harassment, the Tribunal’s competence in salary related issues, and the respect of due process of law when exhausting internal remedies were also among the topics that caught their attention.

Moreover, we would like to mention the presentation on the “Principle of acquired rights” by colleagues of the CERN Legal Service (Eva-Maria Gröniger-Voss, Kirsten Baxter, Arthur Nguyen), who were invited by the ILOAT among other global experts of international law. Our representatives were particularly interested in the concept of “cumulative impact of measures” (so-called “salami” tactic), which may ultimately give rise to a violation of acquired rights – is this a topic of relevance at CERN?

The CERN Staff Association wishes the International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal, an institution that is essential for the good functioning of international organisations, a long life and every success in its highly delicate mission of “Promoting jobs, protecting people”.

The full publication based on the symposium is available online:

[1] ILOAT website:

Translated from the French original

by Staff Association