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United Nations not a State under Article 12

Topic covered:

Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


United Nations not a State under Article 12


What to study?

For prelims: subjects under Article 12 and 226.

For mains: implications and significance of the judgment.


Context: The Delhi High Court has ruled that the United Nations is not a State under Article 12 of the Constitution of India and is not amenable to its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.



A plea was filed by a former UNO employee who was found guilty of misconduct.

The petitioner was convicted by a US Federal Court and sentenced to 97 months of imprisonment and two years of mandatory probation. He was released and deported to India in May 2014. In his petition, he claimed that due process was not followed in his case.


What’s the issue now?

He had in November 2018, written a letter to the Ministry of External Affairs seeking a grant of permission to initiate legal action against the United Nations Organization (UNO) under section 86 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908. The provision provides that a foreign State may be sued in any Court with the consent of the Central government.


Immunity available to UNO:

The consent of the Government of India is not required to initiate a legal suit against UNO as it is not a foreign state and is only an Internal Organization.

UNO and its officials enjoy immunity under the United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947.

As per Section 2 of Article II of the Schedule of Act, 1947, UNO has immunity from every form of legal process except insofar as in any particular case it has expressly waived its immunity. The immunity granted is all comprehensive and applicability of any national laws are subject to the waiver of the immunity by respondent no.2 (UNO).


About UNO:

  • The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945. It is currently made up of 193 Member States.  The mission and work of the United Nations are guided by the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter.
  • States are admitted to membership in the UN by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
  • The main organs of the UN are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat. All were established in 1945 when the UN was founded.


Sources: The Hindu.