|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7113th Meeting (AM)
Crafting Peace Mandates Offers Strategic Chance to Support National Rule-of-Law
Priorities, Secretary-General Tells Security Council Open Debate
Use All Peaceful Tools When Systems Fail to Tackle Impunity, President Urges
The crafting of peacekeeping and peacebuilding mandates offered a “strategic opportunity” to support national rule-of-law priorities, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council this morning, ahead of a day-long open debate that explored the link between strong public institutions and conflict prevention.
Mr. Ban said the rule of law was at the heart of the work of the United Nations, adding that when public institutions failed to deliver justice or protect rights, conflict prevailed. “People must be able to trust that their institutions can resolve disputes promptly and fairly,” he emphasized. At the international level, adherence to the rule of law was critical for preventing conflict and resolving disputes peacefully. The United Nations provided wide-ranging rule-of-law support to Governments, he said, explaining that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had been designated the global focal point for police, justice and corrections. That arrangement had already helped efforts in Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti.
Linas Antanas Linkevičius, Foreign Minister of Lithuania and Council President for February, said the Council’s focus on holistic rule-of-law assistance in conflict-affected countries was critical to avoiding relapse into violence. Mandates must be clear and based on country-specific needs, adequate resources, regular monitoring, coordination and clear exit strategies, he stressed. When national justice systems failed to tackle impunity for the most serious crimes, the Council should be ready to use the full range of peaceful tools, including targeted sanctions and referrals to the International Criminal Court.
During the ensuing debate, 66 speakers took the floor to outline national efforts to enhance the rule of law on the domestic, bilateral and multilateral fronts. Many reiterated that the rule of law was intrinsically linked to international peace and security, pressing the Council to continue integrating the “rule of law aspect” into United Nations peacekeeping mandates as a key element of conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Others said rule-of-law mandates could be more effective if the relevant activities were sequenced appropriately and the foundations laid for continued support beyond the mandate completion.
In that context, many speakers underlined the importance of adhering to the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of States. Others focused squarely on the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes, pressing the Council to improve its cooperation with the International Criminal Court, notably by responding to the latter’s notifications of non-cooperation.
Also speaking today were the Foreign Ministers of Chile and Latvia, as well as representatives of Australia, France, Jordan, Argentina, Chad, United States, Luxembourg, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, China, United Kingdom, Rwanda, Nigeria, Cuba, Brazil, Sweden, Guatemala, Israel, Liechtenstein, Japan, Malaysia, Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Peru, Syria, Mexico, Costa Rica, Croatia, Republic of Moldova, Uruguay, Ecuador, Georgia, New Zealand, Senegal, Colombia, Switzerland, Netherlands, Spain, Slovenia, Albania, Qatar, Namibia, Pakistan, Turkey, Botswana, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Slovakia, Armenia, Tunisia, Poland, Iran, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia. Others delivering statements were the Head of the European Union Delegation and the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine.
Taking the floor for a second time were representatives of Israel, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Syria, as well as an observer for the State of Palestine.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 6:15 p.m.
The Security Council met today for an open debate on the rule of law. It had before it the Secretary-General’s report on “Measuring the effectiveness of the support provided by the United Nations system for the promotion of the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict situations” (document S/2013/341), outlining efforts to mainstream rule of law throughout the United Nations. Also before it was a 3 February 2014 letter from the Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the Secretary-General (document S/2014/75), which provides a conceptual framework for today’s discussion.
Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said the rule of law was at the heart of the United Nations work, intrinsically linked to peace and security. When public institutions failed to deliver justice or protect peoples’ rights, insecurity and conflict prevailed. At the national level, “people must be able to trust that their institutions can resolve disputes promptly and fairly” and provide equitable access to basic services. At the global level, mechanisms to combat impunity and ensure accountability — including United Nations-assisted criminal tribunals — reinforced the primacy of law.
Noting that 18 missions around the world mandated rule-of-law support, he said the United Nations provided wide-ranging assistance to Governments, from constitution-making to strengthening police, justice and corrections institutions. He had designated the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the global focal point for police, justice and corrections, an arrangement that had already assisted efforts in Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti.
He went on to say that mandates should reflect a country’s specific challenges and identify priority areas of support. Establishing phases for the implementation of the various components of assistance was also vital, as addressing peoples’ security and protection needs was required for the success of institutions and processes. Given the limited human and financial resources, a gradual implementation strategy might be most effective in the transition from peacekeeping to development assistance. Assessing progress was essential for making policy decisions supported by evidence, he said, noting that sequenced mandates would support the Council’s promotion in monitoring and evaluating the Organization’s rule-of-law assistance.
LINAS ANTANAS LINKEVIČIUS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said events in the Central African Republic and Syria offered “shocking” examples of what happened in the absence of rule of law. In the former country, a total collapse of law and order had led to unspeakable atrocities, while in the latter, civilians were subjected to aerial bombings and denied humanitarian access. The situations in Somalia, Mali and South Sudan highlighted the importance of restoring rule of law and institution-building in order to protect civilians.
She went on to say that the rule of law was the underlying framework of rules and rights that “made safe, secure and fair societies possible”. The Council’s focus on holistic rule-of-law assistance in conflict-affected countries was critical to breaking the cycle of relapse into violence. Mandates must be clear and based on country-specific needs, adequate resources, regular monitoring, coordination and clear exit strategies. When national judicial systems failed to tackle impunity for the most serious crimes, the Council should be ready to use its full range of tools, including targeted sanctions and referrals to the International Criminal Court.
ALFREDO MORENO CHARME, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, said his country had contributed to all United Nations efforts to achieve universal acceptance of the rule of law. Indeed, the link between the rule of law and the maintenance of international peace and security was indisputable, as seen in the increasingly important role of the rule of law in multidimensional peacekeeping mandates designed to facilitate functioning State institutions. Mandates with rule of law elements must be comprehensive and respect national ownership. Mandates must respond to local needs, in that the local situation must determine the content. They must be clear about their goals and the means of attaining them. Finally, mandates must facilitate accountability, with the aid of both national courts and, where appropriate, the International Criminal Court, and be based on the concept of the responsibility to protect.
GARY FRANCIS QUINLAN (Australia) noted that the strengthening of the rule of law was a critical pillar of conflict prevention and post-conflict peacebuilding, as that could prevent repeated relapse of conflict. A rule-of-law mandate should be incorporated into all United Nations peacekeeping operations, whose aim was to immediately stabilize security; planning for rule-of-law strengthening must also start immediately. In that regard, his delegation welcomed the designation of DPKO and UNDP as the global focal point for the rule of law activities. The Council must be informed of what worked and what did not. Highlighting the rule-of-law mandates in United Nations Missions in Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which took account of the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction, similar mandates should be considered for other peace operations. Closer attention should be paid to policing, whose breadth and complexity required a greater strategic framework.
GÉRARD ARAUD (France) said United Nations actions must be transparent and be based on clear guidelines, and he welcomed the Secretary-General’s guidelines, including the zero-tolerance policy for sexual violence by the Organization’s peacekeepers. He underscored the need to align peacekeeping operations with rule-of-law activities, especially in vulnerable or failing States. Describing how the blue helmets could play a vital role in helping States with rule-of-law efforts, he highlighted those mandates given to the United Nations missions in Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Turning to the situation in the Central African Republic, he said that mass atrocities had been avoided thanks to the African-led and French forces. It was urgent to establish the rule of law in that country to put it back on track. The Council should be able to adapt to the changing environment and cope with emerging and persistent situations, such as piracy off the Somali coast, as well as drug trafficking and other transnational crimes in the Sahel. Regrettably, the Council had been unable able to address the trafficking of wildlife.
ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said that it was clear that the rule of law was underserved by Member States because discussions had been watered down and now covered every aspect of the legal universe. As a result, the United Nations was left with no real clarity or strategic direction. The international community needed to return to basics. The two most fundamental preconditions for rehabilitating destroyed countries or regions were the provision of security and the administration of justice. All other development activity could wait or be left to others. Effective and fair criminal and financial courts were an immediate necessity in post-conflict environments, which was a tall order given that infrastructure was often devastated.
MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL (Argentina) said that the question facing the international community was how to build rule of law in areas affected by armed conflict and experiencing subsequent insecurity. The challenge and responsibly was to consolidate international institutions to safeguard peace and security and protect human rights. The international community should ensure accountability for human rights violations. Argentina was convinced that the proliferation of current atrocities was due to the prevalence of impunity. Impunity must be halted, for which independent judicial systems should be strengthened to ensure human rights protection. Countries should be treated equally when it came to human rights.
MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF (Chad) said that one consequence of war was the eradication of the rule of law, amid often devastated institutions. With often non-functioning institutions, the judiciary often could not play its central role in support of the rule of law, and security could no longer be guaranteed. The State, in many ways, was shattered. The widespread prevalence of United Nations missions worldwide was indicative of the international community’s interest in addressing the gravity of armed conflict. Solutions to promote and bolster the rule of law should be supplemented by efforts to combat poverty and illiteracy, and promote democratic institutions. There was a close linkage between the United Nations three pillars, he said, pointing to peace and security, human rights and development, and the rule of law. Combating impunity on the national level should be supplemented by efforts on the international level.
ROSEMARY A. DICARLO (United States) said that respect for the rule of law was essential, but it took hard work and long-term efforts. It also required the international community’s support. United Nations peacekeeping operations were among the available tools to assist the establishment of the rule of law, and thus, those missions should include rule-of-law experts. She described how individual peacekeeping missions, including in Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, could assist with the rule of law. She also highlighted the role of peacekeeping operations in bringing perpetrators of heinous crimes to justice, particularly by apprehending fugitives. Despite the usefulness of individual tools, there was a need for a holistic and integrated approach by the United Nations system. Her delegation welcomed the Secretariat’s establishment of the global focal point and other institutional arrangements, saying such efforts should close the gaps between New York Headquarters and the field.
SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg) said that the notion of the rule of law had become more defined and the United Nations action in its favour — helping States to re-establish rule-of-law institutions, assisting victims and restoring trust in judicial and other relevant entities — was indispensable. Given the scope of such undertakings, efforts must be well-coordinated. In that regard, she welcomed the designation of DPKO and UNDP as global focal point. Noting that 18 of the 28 United Nations peacekeeping missions included rule-of-law mandates, she said the most recent such mandate had been given to the mission in the Central African Republic. Crimes should not go unpunished, she stressed, adding that the Security Council and International Criminal Court were complementary in promoting peace and justice. She cited, in particular, Malian authorities’ referral of the situation there to the international Court.
EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) said the primary focus of the United Nations should be promoting the rule of law on the international level. That phenomenon was fundamental to peacekeeping and peacebuilding, as evidenced by the large number of United Nations missions worldwide, which were often deployed in cases where States were unable to maintain the basic tenets of law and order. However, the United Nations must observe and respect the sovereign integrity of States when developing the mandates of conflict and post-conflict missions, and avoid introducing institutions that did not fit local conditions. The diversity of national rule-of-law models made creation of a one-size-fits-all model on the international level impossible.
OH JOON (Republic of Korea) said strengthening the rule of law helped promote human rights and sustainable peace and development. It was encouraging that the Council was contributing to the promotion of law and order by establishing more than a dozen field missions with rule-of-law dimensions. Accountability was at the heart of the process and combating impunity was a vital aspect of its effective application. The international criminal justice system had made significant progress in the fight against impunity, particularly with its special consideration of vulnerable groups in conflict and post-conflict situations. His delegation supported the Secretary-General’s call to ensure greater coordination and coherence in the Organization's rule-of-law efforts.
WANG MIN (China) said it was the goal of all countries to achieve the rule of law. Given each State’s particular circumstances, however, no single model applied and each should be able to choose their own. At the same time, rule-of-law activities must strictly adhere to the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter, such as sovereign equality of States and non-interference in internal domestic matters. The Charter was a point of departure towards friendly relations and must be upheld. Additionally, his delegation opposed any efforts to undermine historical justice. In conflict and post-conflict situations, coordination should be ensured between the rule of law and political processes, economic development and national reconciliation. Efforts must be devoted to States’ capacity-building, taking into account their specific and unique situations.
MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) expressed strong support for the presidential statement drafted by Lithuania and urged its adoption. Strengthening the rule of law was a priority for the Council, as there was no lasting peace without justice. Peacekeeping missions mandated by the Council played a critical role in strengthening the rule of law at the national level. His delegation also welcomed the United Nations institutional arrangements to empower field focal points as they could help improve the quality of support to be delivered to the field. Evaluating such support was challenging, and the United Nations must show evidence lest it lose credibility. Impunity for war crimes had been a norm 20 years ago, but the international community had worked hard to break it down. There were no expiry dates for heinous crimes, and he urged following up Council referrals to the International Criminal Court. His country was the only permanent Council member to have accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and was only one of the two members to have ratified the Rome Statute.
MARK LYALL GRANT (Rwanda) said that once a country experienced civil strife, it was susceptible to a recurrence, in part because post-conflict institutions were often unable to effectively address law-and-order challenges. Fighting impunity mitigated conflict and created conditions conducive to peace and development. In Rwanda, the collapse of State institutions had been among the biggest challenges facing the country following the genocide. Transitional justice should be a key focal point in post-conflict situations, as that would initiate healing. Building the capacity of a country’s justice system should be a priority in all post-conflict situations to avoid a recurrence. Better coordination was needed to achieve tangible results in efforts to establish the rule of law. The United Nations system should better coordinate with the Peacebuilding Commission to address such challenges. Rwanda believed that rule of law either flourished or waned at the national level, so capacity-building in that sense was imperative.
USMAN SARKI (Nigeria) said the observance and promotion of rule of law was a concept enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Nigeria supported observance of the rule of law in situations where human rights were violated. The establishment of rule of law had wide-ranging implications in the work of the United Nations, particularly in transitional post-conflict situations. United Nations missions in the setting of conflict and post-conflict environments should be given explicit mandates to build rule-of-law mechanisms, which would enhance public confidence. Expert groups should also be deployed to lend technical capacity-building. A comparative approach was crucial to guide efforts to build a strong rule-of-law architecture. Efforts should be made to eliminate discriminatory laws against women and other vulnerable groups, while children must be shielded from conflict. Although discussing practical approaches was an important part of the process, the international community must also develop mechanisms to effectively measure the impact of efforts to improve the rule of law.
EDGARS RINKĒVIČS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Latvia, associating himself with the European Union, said rule of law was a key element of conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. The United Nations played an important role in each of those processes, and he urged the Council, in particular, to continue to integrate the rule-of-law aspect in missions’ mandates. The enhanced responsibilities of the Organization’s field leadership, as well as efforts by DPKO and UNDP and development of a United Nations rule-of-law strategy, were “steps in the right direction”, and he urged improving mission effectiveness by adopting a comprehensive approach to the rule of law in peacekeeping mandates. Other efforts should include a tailor-made approach to specific host country needs and establishment of a reporting system. If a State could not protect its population from massive human rights violations, the fight against impunity must be strengthened at the international level through the International Criminal Court, ad hoc mixed tribunals and other justice mechanisms.
MARCELINO MEDINA GONZÁLEZ (Cuba) said it was difficult to consider that the rule of law even existed, given that unilateralism and economic, commercial and financial measures contravened its foundations. The promotion of the rule of law presupposed respect for sovereign institutions, without discrimination or double standards. Reform of the United Nations to standardize transparency and democracy was fundamental to the rule of law at the international level. The democratization of international economic, monetary and financial bodies was also needed, requiring a system of rules to ensure peoples’ full participation in decision-making.
GUILHERME DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) stressed the crucial need for the international community’s long-term commitment in supporting national efforts to achieve structural changes. In the complex and non-linear path to sustainable peace, the Peacebuilding Commission, chaired by his country, had an enormous potential to bring together key actors and help forge greater harmony among the subregional, regional and international levels. In Latin languages, “rule of law”, translated, was something akin to “state of right”. In a broad sense, rule of law was social justice. Built into the notion of rule of law was a “state of rights”, or a State capable of protecting rights and promoting equal access, including legal access, for all citizens, independent of their origin, sex, creed, political affiliation or race.
MÅRTEN GRUNDITZ (Sweden), speaking on behalf of Nordic countries, highlighted the Declaration adopted at the High-level General Assembly Meeting on the Rule of Law in September 2012. The text emphasized the importance of that process as a key element of conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding and stressed that justice, including transitional justice, was a fundamental building block of sustainable peace in countries in conflict and post-conflict situations. He also welcomed the United Nations system-wide coordination schemes, such as “Delivering as one”, noting that the establishment of a global focal point was part of that effort. Coordination must be intensified to implement the rule of law at the country level. Transfer of tasks from the United Nations to national authorities must be carefully managed, particularly when the United Nations presence was drawing down. Also important was ensuring women’s access to justice.
MÓNICA BOLAÑOS PÉREZ (Guatemala) stressed the need to recognize the inextricable link between peace and development. That recognition had underpinned the decision to create the Peacebuilding Commission. He also underlined the Security Council’s role in furthering peace and justice, which included the body’s own mandate to uphold the rule of law, maintain peace and security, and combat impunity while ensuring accountability. Among the tools of the International Criminal Court was a demonstration of the international community’s commitment to deterring war crimes and massive violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Council resolution 2100 (2013) had authorized the United Nations Multinational Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to support national and international justice efforts, including those related to the International Criminal Court. Council members and the DPKO staff should be mindful of the positive synergies between peacekeeping missions and the Court.
RON PROSOR ( Israel) said that across the Middle East and North Africa, countries were shrinking under the crippling weight of corruption, tyranny and inequality. In addition to upholding draconian laws that marginalized their civilians, the judiciary systems in many Arab nations subjected women to unspeakable injustice and violence. In a region known for intolerance and repression, Israel stood out for its commitment to the rule of law, with a Declaration of Independence that ensured that the majority governed while minorities enjoyed equal rights. Israel’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas made it a destination of choice for reporters, academics and human rights activists, as they knew that they could speak freely without fear of arbitrary arrest, imprisonment or execution. The character of a society should be assessed by its commitment to a system of laws that both protected and liberated its citizens.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said political will to prioritize rule of-law programmes was needed at the country-level, as well as among donors, international organizations and the Council itself. The Council’s commitment to promoting the rule of law must become more consistent. To ensure proper conduct of United Nations personnel in the field, he urged greater efforts to prevent crime, saying that repatriation alone was insufficient to bring about accountability. Also, the Council was not comfortable with the international Court, as it had tiptoed around urgently needed follow-up measures and failed to respond to the Court’s notifications of non-cooperation. Cooperation should be improved.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the European Union delegation, said the United Nations had a unique role in supporting the rule of law and its benefits for countries and peoples. Reaffirming that human rights, rule of law and democracy were interlinked, he said judicial institutions had a critical role in establishing peace and security in conflict and post-conflict situations. He supported the effective interplay between national justice systems and the International Criminal Court. Outlining various European Union efforts, he encouraged operational cooperation and strategic partnerships, as well as information sharing and training, in order to strengthen support to States.
HIROSHI ISHIKAWA ( Japan) said it was natural that post-conflict countries faced different challenges in re-establishing the rule of law. As such, assistance must be nationally-led and tailored to their specific conditions. International organizations must engage in close dialogue, optimize their assets and make use of their comparative advantages. Sharing Japan’s efforts to strengthen Afghanistan’s security capacity, he said emphasis had been placed on supporting that country’s self-reliance, on a bilateral basis, and by working with like-minded countries and organizations. Enhancing rule-of-law institutions required a long-term perspective, he added, citing Japan’s experience in helping Cambodia rebuild its legal and judicial systems.
HUSSEIN HANIF (Malaysia) said that the development of peacekeeping and special political mission mandates was of critical importance and should not be solely thematic in nature. Rather, they should be clear, measurable and achievable. When designing mandates on strengthening of the rule of law, the principle of national ownership should be taken into consideration, with efforts that included the views of local authorities, civil society and the public. There was no one-size-fits-all approach to formulating mandates, although his delegation understood that the development of justice institutions and national capacity-building was difficult and complex. He underlined the importance of cultural and religious sensitivity when carrying out rule-of-law activities in host countries.
BÉNÉDICTE FRANKINET (Belgium) said mandates should include a rule-of-law component. Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants should be part-and-parcel of peacekeeping missions, while human and material resources should be provided in line with agreed budgets. At each stage, accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide should be applied in security sector reform efforts. The rule of law presupposed that animosity among former fighters and citizens themselves should be diminished. As such, peacekeeping missions should initiate efforts to bring about national reconciliation. The United Nations effectiveness depended on its coordination with regional organizations and concerned countries, and from the start, it must guarantee coordination of institution-building efforts and support national ownership.
HEIKO THOMS (Germany) strongly reaffirmed his country’s support of all rule-of-law efforts, noting that its own efforts to strengthen rule-of-law institutions included promotion of a global exchange of experiences among United Nations experts in that area. Germany also provided support to United Nations police, he said, citing the 2012 International Police Conference in Berlin, which had led to the creation last year of the Group of Friends of United Nations Police. Germany supported the establishment of the Global Focal Point for the Rule of Law. Finally, the fight against impunity was crucial for lasting peace, he said, adding that national and international justice mechanisms, especially the International Criminal Court, supported that goal.
MARGUS KOLGA (Estonia) said the rule of law was the key to conflict prevention, as well as an important part of peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Impunity provided fertile ground for the recurrence of conflicts and bred instability, he said. Welcoming the report’s emphasis on cooperation with the International Criminal Court, he urged States parties to the Rome Statute to ratify the Kampala amendments, as Estonia had last year. Both State and non-State parties on the Council that helped to refer situations to the Court should ensure the provision of consistent cooperation. On fighting impunity, he said that just two weeks ago, Milan Lukić had been convicted of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war in Višgrad during the 1992-1995 conflict in the former Yugoslavia. He was the third person convicted in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to serve his sentence in Estonia.
GUSTAVO ADOLFO MEZA-CUADRA VELÁSQUEZ (Peru) said evaluating the United Nations promotion of the rule of law required identifying experts to advise peacekeeping operations, special political missions and the Peacebuilding Commission. Describing Peru’s experience, he underscored its commitment to the rule of law, having strengthened its independent judicial system and defended international law. Recently, the International Court of Justice had ruled on the establishment of a maritime boundary between Peru and Chile. Both countries were abiding by it and had renewed their willingness to work together. The rule of law, nationally and globally, was crucial for the maintenance of international peace and security.
BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said it was unacceptable to focus on the rule of law at the national level while ignoring it at the international level. Respect for the rule of law on the global stage should create the environment to attain it at the national level. The challenges confronting the rule of law internationally stemmed from selectivity and double standards used by some influential States that sought to impose their unilateral decisions on other States. The crisis in his country offered insight about the policies of flagrant intervention in State affairs. He questioned whether the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan and violation of international human rights and humanitarian law upheld the rule of law. Syria had repeatedly called on the United Nations to confront the terrorist threat to his country, which, today, jeopardized the peace and security, including of other States such as Kyrgyzstan.
JORGE MONTAÑO (Mexico) said the rule of law underpinned sustained economic growth and poverty eradication. Mexico had made use of the means outlined in the Charter’s Article 33 to peacefully settle disputes in its region. He urged adherence to rulings of the International Court of Justice and encouraged those States that had not done so to accept the Court’s jurisdiction. He also called on States that had registered non-technical reservations to the Court to consider withdrawing them, underlining the Council’s crucial role in complying with the Court’s rulings. Non-compliance with those rulings contravened international law.
SAUL WEISLEDER ( Costa Rica) recalled that almost all peacekeeping operations had included rule of law and human rights components since 2003. Actions must be considered from a holistic, people-centred approach. Mission staff was obliged to respect the law and the rights of those they were mandated to protect. Welcoming the DPKO-UNDP appointment as the focal point for police, justice and corrections in post-conflict situations, he urged missions to cooperate with national authorities in promoting their ownership of the peace process. He drew attention to the operational links between the responsibility to protect and the prevention of atrocities, saying the Council was obliged to promote the full exercise of international justice. He called on it to protect Syrian civilians by referring the situation in that country to the International Criminal Court.
VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia), associating himself with the European Union, said rule of law was the essence of a social contract between people and their Government, which granted transparency, non-discrimination and fairness before the law. Recognizing the importance of the rule of law in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, he said that strengthening or reforming judicial and legal systems required political determination, as well as human and material resources. He urged a focus on rebuilding national civilian capacities and institutions, while recognizing specific country needs and fully respecting the principle of national ownership. War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide must not go unpunished, he said, welcoming the contributions of international courts and tribunals to advancing rule of law at global and national levels.
VLADIMIR LUPAN (Republic of Moldova), associating himself with the European Union, underlined the importance of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal State affairs, saying that the rule of law was a precondition for better development. “A State that genuinely strives for the rule of law creates more confidence for the population,” he said, urging that more be done to uphold international law through national systems by implementing international conventions. Recalling that his country remained affected by the Transnistrian conflict, he said a civilian peacekeeping mission would be more relevant than the peacekeeping mechanism in place since 1992, following the cessation of military hostilities. He described the nation’s contributions to rule-of-law efforts in Timor-Leste, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, and underlined that conflict resolution required respect for human rights.
CRISTINA CARRION (Uruguay) highlighted the declaration adopted at the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on 24 September 2012, recalling that all Member States agreed on its content. Resolving conflicts must be through the application of law and division of labour. Maintenance of peace and security and the rule of law reinforced each other, and 18 of the 28 United Nations peacekeeping missions had rule-of-law mandates. She also stressed the importance of settling disputes through peaceful means and urged permanent Council members to refrain from using the veto against a United Nations intervention when mass atrocities were involved.
XAVIER LASSO MENDOZA (Ecuador) stressed the importance of State equality before the law and the achievement of rule of law both at the national and international levels. Finding conflict’s roots by looking only at internal factors was “absurd”. Weapons-manufacturing, industrialized countries were part of the problem, and use of force was often a source of conflict. There was a distinction between violence and conflict. While violence was an individual action, conflict entailed political decisions. Staunching violence was a State responsibility, but his delegation also attached great importance to the rule of law at the international level. It was crucial to promote reform of the Security Council in order to modernize its structure and make the body more democratic.
KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia) supported the effective interplay between national justice systems and the International Criminal Court in the fight against impunity. Georgia would continue to adjust its legislation to conform well to international standards, and as party to the Rome Statute, it had adopted a law on cooperation with the Court. As strengthening the rule of law was a long-term process, he underlined the sovereign right and primary responsibility of the country concerned to determine its national approach and priorities. Supporting the development of a comprehensive United Nations strategy on the rule of law, he said the links to security sector reform should be reflected. His country was ready to work with the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, and others, to devise a system-wide approach.
JIM MCLAY (New Zealand) said the rule of law must be a priority in all mission planning from the earliest phases and include early peacebuilding initiatives. He urged an integrated, flexible and mobile approach, supported by able personnel. An early focus on building rule-of-law institutions was central to successful peacebuilding, which required a long-term view. It was vital that the Council provide strategic direction to ensure that efforts were coordinated, sequenced and adapted to the context. Efforts to strengthen the rule of law must be tailored to the culture and traditions of the host country, and implemented in partnership with it. They should include regional expertise and be provided a clear legal framework. New Zealand looked forward to a “more sensitive and appropriate” approach by the Court under its newly amended rules of procedure.
ABDOU SALAM DIALLO (Senegal) said that the international community should look at strengthening the rule of law in the context of international security. The General Assembly statement on the rule of law underscored that impunity was intolerable, particularly when considering the most heinous crimes, such as war crimes and crimes against humanity. The shared responsibility was to ensure that humanity no longer faced offences such as genocide and crimes against humanity. Often, the seeds of conflict between communities were born from impunity, which led to a search for vengeance. Nothing should hamper efforts to bring the perpetrators of war crimes to justice; the balance between the need for reconciliation and combating impunity was difficult, but a lasting peace required it. Governments had the primary responsibility of establishing democratic systems and a strong judiciary to address human rights violations.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ BLANCO (Colombia) said international treaties on human rights and international humanitarian law were part of his country’s “constitutional corpus”, meaning they were binding and took precedence over domestic law. The administration of justice was a primary role of the State, which depended on the strength of democratic institutions. While Colombia recognized the importance of the International Criminal Court, strengthening national capacities to prosecute and punish perpetrators of the most heinous crimes against humanity was in the interest of sustainable peace. Colombia appreciated the United Nations support in its efforts to strengthen the rule of law domestically and, more broadly, urged taking into account the characteristics of each situation, including the existence of different legal bases, in order to avoid “generalizations” that were difficult to adapt once in the field.
RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, urged the Council to address the foundering of the rule of law on the international level, as a crucial ingredient for the maintenance of international peace and security. “This Council too often protects the powerful and deflects the weak,” he said, stressing that the “shelving” of international law in the case of Palestine had only led to a chronic failure to achieve peace. It must be ensured that the Israeli occupation ended and the conflict was legally resolved. Palestinians’ rights had been ignored and their human rights systematically violated, including the right to self-determination. Such inaction was an “unprecedented” lack of the rule of law. He pressed the international community to prevent Israel’s settlement enterprise from destroying the viability of a two-State solution, based on pre-1967 borders and international consensus.
PAUL SEGER (Switzerland) said the rule of law was a major driver of peace and security, human rights, reconciliation and development. While welcoming its inclusion in peacekeeping mandates, he underscored the need to be coherent and consistent from the start and to sustain efforts over time. Spelling out mandates more specifically would improve monitoring of results. Mandates must be tailored to specific situations, including through consultations with the host country and local actors. Special political missions and United Nations country teams could also be mandated in a more systematic manner. He urged addressing the lack of resources for DPKO’s Criminal Law and Judicial Advisory Service.
KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) said international law was complementary to national law. He cited the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, which recently had advised Tunisia on its new constitution, a document that was now a model for the region. The rule of law was also essential for sustainable development, as investors would hesitate if they were uncertain about whether their investments were protected. Bilateral efforts must complement multilateral ones, he said, noting that the Netherlands supported one-stop-shop centres for sexual violence victims and the establishment of legal aid mechanisms in Rwanda. Finally, the rule of law was especially important for States emerging from conflict.
ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said strengthening the rule of law was fundamental for conflict prevention and peacebuilding. It must be an essential component of the United Nations mandates, he said, welcoming their growing inclusion by the Council in peacekeeping operations. In countries that recently experienced conflict, the role of transitional justice was important. It must be understood as a set of mechanisms, legal and non-legal, aimed at guaranteeing the prosecution of serious crimes and human rights violations perpetrated during a conflict. Women should play a central role in strengthening the rule of law and in institution-building. National ownership was a key factor for the success of rule-of-law activities, and Spain had placed it at the centre of its foreign policy and cooperation with other countries.
ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia) said the role of the international criminal courts and tribunals, in particular the International Criminal Court, was essential in establishing rule of law. As the prosecution of international crimes should remain the primary responsibility of States, the role of the Court was of particular importance in cases where States were unable or unwilling to prosecute perpetrators of the most heinous crimes. There was a need to strengthen the international legal framework for judicial assistance, including extradition, between States in order to support effective prosecution of international crimes at a national level. Slovenia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Argentina worked together on an initiative involving adoption of a new international instrument on mutual legal assistance and extradition for effective investigation and prosecution of the most serious crimes of international concern by domestic jurisdictions.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said that clarity with regard to accountability of actors involved in peacekeeping or peacemaking operations, transitory justice and rule of law processes, and the transparency of their activities, was indispensable to enhancing their legitimacy and improving their performance. Focus on rule-of-law reforms should not divert attention from economic and human development. A holistic approach was needed to embrace other vital aspects of development. National ownership and the internalization of rule-of-law institutions could be created through an inclusive process that embraced various local actors.
SHEIKHA ALYA AHMED SEIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said the rule of law was closely related to the three pillars of the United Nations. The promotion of international peace and security relied on the ability of States to respect and follow-up existing international legal frameworks. Protection of human rights, development and social justice were at the very heart of the rule-of-law principle. The absence of rule of law in some States was responsible for the proliferation of armed conflict and violence. Qatar, given its understanding of the importance of international cooperation, had contributed, in coordination with the Council, to achieving a peaceful settlement of several international disputes. The country had also spearheaded an initiative to establish a regional centre for promoting rule of law and combating corruption.
WILFRIED EMVULA (Namibia) believed that the United Nations remained the central point for the consolidation of international rule of law. The United Nations system should serve as a banner of transparency and democracy that promoted the involvement of the entire international community in finding solutions to contemporary global issues. The Council had the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, although it had become clear that with the passage of time that its current composition and structure was unrepresentative, undemocratic and did not reflect modern geopolitical realities. With that, Namibia reiterated its call for the Council’s comprehensive reform.
MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan) said that the contribution of rule of law to conflict prevention and peacebuilding and peacemaking had been proven. It was important to attain clarity on the design of mandates, and more resources should be devoted to data collection. United Nations senior officials should work with host country authorities to achieve synergies, as each country needed a customized solution. In planning a drawdown of United Nations missions, it was vital to consider the “maturity” level of rule of law in the country. Transitional criminal justice and national reconciliation must move in tandem. Because resources were scarce, they should be directed to the right areas, such as tackling the root causes of conflict. He welcomed the designation of DPKO and UNDP as the global focal point, and stressed the need to ensure system-wide coherence and synergies. All Council resolutions must be implemented, he said, adding that selective implementation would undermine the Organization’s credibility.
HALIT ÇEVIK (Turkey) said the rule of law had a fundamental role for the further development of the three main pillars upon which the United Nations was built, namely, international peace and security, human rights and development. A comprehensive approach to sustainable peace required an integrated approach based on coherence between political and security factors, development, human rights and rule-of-law and justice activities. The rule of law applied to all States equally, as well as to international organizations, such as the United Nations and its principal organs. It was not an abstract concept, and the international community needed to find better ways and means to apply it in concrete terms, he said, adding that there was an obvious demand for strengthened international cooperation among Member States for rule-of-law promotion in all its aspects.
CHARLES THEMBANI NTWAAGAE (Botswana) said that respect for the rule of law was an essential condition for peace, security, prevention and resolution of conflict, as well as post-conflict reconstruction. Most conflicts, particularly in Africa, were attributable to deficiencies in governance institutions and the justice system. The rule of law placed obligations on both the State and its citizens, including civil society, to observe, respect and, most importantly, take ownership of legal order. Also critical was alignment between national and international law. Social and economic growth and sustainable development were also closely linked to, and interdependent with, the rule of law and human rights.
KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) supported the idea that peacekeeping operations required adequate, well-trained personnel and resources, and operate under mandates that were holistic, comprehensive, well-balanced, timely and achievable. Careful consideration should be given to how peacekeeping efforts could strengthen police, justice and corrections institutions, despite the challenges posed by armed conflict, including insufficient independence of the judiciary, political interference and a lack of autonomy. Rule-of-law initiatives must be based on national ownership and priorities defined by national authorities and civil society, consistent with the host country’s cultural and legal institutions. Also critical was adherence to international norms, such as international human rights, humanitarian, criminal and refugee laws.
DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia) said that rule of law not only helped to restore order, but it served as an important and undisputed sign of a functioning authority. Its development must support sustainable peace in post-conflict countries, which, in turn, highlighted the importance of security-sector reform. National ownership must also remain the critical objective in the formulation and execution of United Nations peacekeeping mandates. Indonesia believed that development or restoration of the rule of law was the responsibility of national Governments, while a genuine and inclusive partnership with host Governments must be forged by the United Nations at all times. In post-conflict situations, building human and institutional capacity for law enforcement must be a core component of rule-of-law mandates. In that context, Indonesia underscored the great importance of the Peacebuilding Commission’s role.
IGOR VENCEL (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said that rule of law was the key component of security in every aspect of human life. Today, the international community did not ask if rule of law was needed, but rather how to apply the system effectively to all societies, regardless of cultural, historical or political diversity. Justice systems should be equal and inclusive. National ownership was the first requirement for the successful and sustainable development of rule of law, with capacity and willingness crucial to successful implementation. Slovakia was a strong supporter of security sector reform, believing that in order to achieve sustainable peace and development, people needed, first and foremost, to feel safe and secure.
TIGRAN SAMVELIAN (Armenia) said that increased efforts to fight impunity at the national and international levels were essential. Armenia attached great importance to the promotion of rule of law as essential to international peace and security and human rights protection. The prevalence of impunity in many States allowed serious human rights violations to thrive and prevented the development of lasting solutions to conflict. Affected countries must ensure accountability for the most serious crimes, including crimes against humanity and war crimes. Enhancing legal obligations should be a key element of the Council’s responsibility to promote peace and security. Armenia was committed to peace initiatives of the Council and of reconstruction efforts that served as the foundation for durable peace.
MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia) believed that promoting the rule of law was fundamental for the stability and prosperity of any society. Experiences in his country demonstrated that inclusive dialogue and universal adherence to the principle of the primacy of law, as well as the common commitment to preserve, strengthen and build solid institutions, were crucial for the promotion of peace, stability and development. Establishment of the rule of law ensured sustainable and responsive governance, thus reinforcing institutional legitimacy and gaining the trust of the local population. Rule of law was also critical for building confidence in the judicial ability to deliver justice for all, particularly vulnerable groups. A coordinated, coherent and comprehensive approach to the rule of law within the United Nations system was crucial.
RYSZARD STANISŁAW SARKOWICZ (Poland) said strengthening the rule of law must involve respect for the United Nations Charter and international law, as well as the sovereign equality of States. “We need more reflection at the stage of creating missions’ mandates,” he said, adding that countries’ social, legal and historical contexts must be considered, as must their international legal obligations. Rule-of-law assistance in post-conflict situations was most effective when it drew on wide-ranging expertise. He urged a holistic and strategic approach to rule-of-law programmes, which must be implemented from the start of peacekeeping operations. Finally, he supported a coordinated approach to measuring the effectiveness of the Organization’s support.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE (Iran) stressed the critical importance of strengthening the rule of law in countries emerging from conflict in order to help stabilize the situation, end impunity, tackle the underlying causes of conflict and build lasting peace. The promotion of the rule of law should reflect respect for legal, political and cultural diversity and therefore encourage a culture of dialogue, tolerance and understanding, as opposed to the imposition of any legal, political, cultural or economic model. In today’s debate, the representative of Israel had accused Iran of violating human rights. Such baseless accusations had come from someone representing a regime founded on the basis of gross violations of the whole native population in the land concerned. The raft of policies adopted by the Israelis against the Palestinians was so grotesque that nothing other than the term “apartheid State” could describe that regime.
LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines) said that the rule of law was a vital policy instrument that could lead to lasting peace and stability. However, in itself, it did not bring peace and stability. It was adherence to the rule of law that brought those ideals and principles to life and made positive changes real. As a police- and troop-contributing country, the Philippines continued to do its part in strengthening the rule of law, such as the rebuilding of police and law enforcement services, ensuring humane and secure prison facilities, and developing national civilian capacity. He called for the establishment of clear, credible and achievable mandates for peacekeeping missions, adding that there was a vital need to provide adequate resources and training for the safety and security of all peacekeepers. In closing, he urged the Council to do its utmost to ensure freedom of movement for all peacekeepers.
SHAVENDRA SILVA (Sri Lanka) said it was fitting that the Council was highlighting the centrality of the rule of law at a time when the world was facing ever-increasing threats to international peace in the form of transnational organized crime, terrorism, piracy and climate degradation. The strengthening of the rule of law was essential not just for the maintenance of peace, but also for sustained economic progress. The United Nations Charter enshrined the principle of sovereign equality, which remained intrinsic to the international legal order. The maintenance of the principle of non-interference in the international affairs of Member States, particularly in situations that did not threaten international peace and security, was also fundamental, while unilateral and selective application of international law principles must be avoided.
RICHARD NDUHUURA (Uganda) underscored the importance of an enabling environment for the rule of law to be strengthened at the national and international levels. It was essential to ensure that such efforts were nationally owned and aimed at responding to the peoples’ aspirations, taking into account national traditions and cultures. “We need to foster adherence to constitutionalism and democratic governance,” he said, underpinned by a strong civil service, judiciary, legislature and security sector. To avoid a recurrence of conflict, he urged support for building strong national peace and security institutions. There was no “one-size-fits-all” model for the rule of law, which was why transitional justice mechanisms, tailored to individual situations, could be useful tools. All States must respect international law, he said, expressing concern about the application of unilateral measures in pursuit of national interests.
IGNACE GATA MAVITA WA LUFUTA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the rule of law was a democratic value, which did not align with the objectives of those who wanted to fan the flames of discontent and hatred. There should be no impunity for perpetrators of serious crimes, and those States harbouring accused individuals must respect the international judicial framework. Rule of law was fundamental to sustainable peace, he said, adding that peacekeeping efforts must enable the strengthening of the police, justice and penitentiary systems. The United Nations primary peacekeeping operations and some political missions had worked to strengthen the rule of law in many conflict areas and were often called upon to play an active role in building and restoring peace. They also participated in the very first stages of peacebuilding. Guaranteeing rule of law required capacity-building at national and local levels from the very outset of peace operations.
ROFINA TSINGO CHIKAVA (Zimbabwe), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the United Nations should be guided by the principles of sovereign equality, non-interference in a State’s internal affairs, support for self-determination and non-aggression, among others. It also should champion conflict resolution by peaceful means, in line with international law. “Small States like ours depend on the rule of law for protection against arbitrary actions by the rich and powerful,” she said. In devising the post-2015 development agenda, she hoped developing countries would not be hindered by unilateral coercive measures used by powerful States to achieve narrow political objectives. She also voiced concern that the international criminal justice system had operated in a selective manner.
TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) recalled that Armenia had laid claim to his country’s Nagorno-Karabakh region in 1987, occupying it and killing thousands of Azerbaijani civilians. Impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators continued to impede peace and reconciliation between the two countries. Armenia had consistently supported the perpetrators. Greater efforts were needed to ensure a unified approach to the rule of law and to address major threats to the international legal order. More resolute and targeted measures were required to end impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Combating impunity was important, including for ensuring sustainable peace, truth and reconciliation. In protracted armed conflicts, the lack of political agreement was no pretext for not establishing the truth concerning gross human rights violations.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh) urged respect for international legal systems and treaties. Greater representation of developing and least developed countries “across the board” was needed to ensure the principles of equity, fairness, transparency and democracy at the international level. Further, States must show an unwavering faith in the rule of law in the context of reforming the global financial structure, he said, and in the creation of an equitable, responsible legal climate change regime. Indeed, the rule of law was a necessary precondition for peace, stability and development. Nationally, Bangladesh was working towards promoting rule of law throughout the justice system. The Government had established an independent human rights commission to ensure protection of global standards, he said, adding that the rule of law guaranteed the transparency and accountability of Governments.
ABDALLAH YAHYA A. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia) said the diversity of traditions and people at the United Nations showed that there was no single format for the rule of law. Member States hailed from diverse cultures and backgrounds, yet sought the common goal of a world that renounced bigotry in order to live in peace and security. Principles of Islamic Sharia offered an example of a fully integrated legal system that was based on justice, equality and dignity. Some said that the Islamic faith suppressed basic freedoms and women, which only promoted hatred. There were political, civil, economic, cultural and social rights in Saudi Arabia. It was strange that the Israeli delegate had spoken about human rights violations in Arab countries, when his country’s occupation authorities had continually violated international law to pursue policies of aggression against a powerless people.
Taking the floor a second time, Israel’s delegate said his Iranian counterpart had taken full advantage of the freedom of expression, noting that Iranians did not enjoy that right at home. He had told tall tales at Israel's expense. The truth was that Iran was a place where women were oppressed and minorities prosecuted. The Palestinian delegate was also “light on the facts”, as he had neglected the many human rights abuses committed by the Palestinian security apparatus in the West Bank, to say nothing of the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza. He also invited the representative of Saudi Arabia to Israel to see how human rights were protected and the rule of law was observed.
Armenia’s delegate said Azerbaijan had turned “Armeniaphobia” into State propaganda, an alarm that had also been sounded by the United Nations and Member States. He recalled that, 10 years ago today, an Armenian participant in a “NATO-sponsored” training programme in Hungary had been hacked to death by an Azerbaijani participant while sleeping in his dormitory. After serving eight years of a life sentence in Hungary, the perpetrator had been transferred to Azerbaijan and freed.
Moreover, he had received a full pardon and eight years of salary compensation, and had been promoted to the rank of major, he continued. Such treatment contradicted international human rights instruments, as well as the Azerbaijani criminal code. He called on the Azerbaijani representative to establish a tone that was based on mutual understanding and reciprocity. He rejected the language of force, threat and hatred.
Azerbaijan’s delegate called remarks by Armenia’s delegate “totally groundless”, questioning the weight of any statement by a country whose President was responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The best way to address challenges was to ensure that the occupation of Azerbaijani territories ended, the right of return was exercised and that those responsible for serious crimes against Azerbaijani civilians were brought to justice.
Syria’s representative said he had not spoken of the Saudi Government’s support of terrorism in a vacuum. Saudi Arabia’s armaments and interpretations, which did not relate to Islam, were well-known matters recognized in events from Afghanistan to Syria. He asked who would believe that caring for Syrians was shown by sending mercenaries and terrorists from around the world to Syria with Saudi financing and armaments, to run amuck and impose “inhuman” thinking on Syrians. He called on the Saudi Government to review its policies and desist from supporting terrorism.
The observer of the State of Palestine said Israel’s so-called democracy was for Jews only, where non-Jews were inferior, whether in terms of civil or land rights, or even the right to life. He also had forgotten to say that Israel was the only occupying Power in the Middle East.
* *** *For information media • not an official record