An employee of an international organization misappropriates over one million dollars from a United Nations Peace-Keeping Mission’s designated for procurement of supplies. As a staff member of an international organization, he or she has functional immunity and cannot be investigated by the local jurisdiction or by authorities in his home country. Is this the “perfect crime”? Taking into consideration that these misappropriated funds are contributions from Member States of the United Nations, is there any recourse to investigate the facts of the incident to determine culpability?

International organizations have a legal obligation to ensure compliance with internal regulations, rules and policies. This includes the breach of employment obligations in the UN. Investigations internal to the United Nations are unique. The United Nations has partners in all parts of the globe: the investigators may be located in New York, the incident may have occurred in Africa, and the witnesses may be on a new assignment in Asia. In addition to geographic separation, United Nations’ investigations may have to contend with a range of different languages, dialects, cultures, customs and ethnic issues. These are all factors that affect an investigator’s capability to investigate allegations of staff misconduct or irregular procurement procedures in the United Nations.

The United Nations has become aware that internal investigations must be conducted carefully taking into consideration the staff member’s due process rights. If an investigation does not observe the standards of good investigative practices in the investigation process, the Organization may be held financially liable through the newly established U.N. internal administration of justice. As a result, the United Nations has recognized the need to develop a properly planned and carefully conducted internal investigation.