RESTORING RULE OF LAW ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL FOR RESOLVING CONFLICT, REBUILDING SECURE, HUMANE SOCIETIES, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
RESTORING RULE OF LAW ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL FOR RESOLVING CONFLICT, REBUILDING SECURE, HUMANE SOCIETIES, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
4835th Meeting (AM)
RESTORING RULE OF LAW ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL FOR RESOLVING CONFLICT,
REBUILDING SECURE, HUMANE SOCIETIES, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
The restoration of the rule of law was a sine qua non for the sustainable resolution of conflict and the rebuilding of secure, orderly and humane societies, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Security Council this morning as it considered “Justice and the Rule of Law: the role of the United Nations”. Too often, he said, the United Nations had failed to give that critical sector the importance it was due.
The issue was first addressed by the Council during a ministerial-level meeting on 24 September, and today’s meeting offered non-Council member States the opportunity to contribute to the discussion. (See Press Release SC/7880 of
“We can no longer afford to treat the rule of law as a side activity in which we engage alongside political objectives”, Mr. Guéhenno continued. In many cases, it lay at the heart of the success or failure of peacekeeping operations. It was essential to ensure that the rule of law figured prominently even at the early stages of peace negotiations. Citing lessons learned from Kosovo and Timor-Leste, he said Liberia would be a real test of the United Nations’ ability to move beyond a piecemeal approach to the rule of law, and lay the foundations for a truly just and peaceful society.
As judicial and corrections mission component costs were quite small compared with the more substantial costs of deploying a large military force, support for the rule of law was a good investment, he added. Member States could assist by providing staffing or by serving as lead nation for assistance to a particular sector. Standby arrangements, whereby Member States committed to provide an integrated package of resources and personnel as soon as the need arose, should also be explored.
As during the ministerial-level debate, speakers stressed the link between justice and the rule of law and building a peaceful society. Most also saw the Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda as a step towards providing post-conflict justice and ending the culture of impunity, while criticizing the Tribunals’ shortcomings, which many ascribed to their ad hoc nature. The International Criminal Court was seen by many to be a remedy for that, not only because of its actual prosecutorial powers, but because of the provisions of the Rome Statute that prioritized national prosecution of cases. In that way, the Court was seen as strengthening national systems of justice and furthering the aims of the Council in maintaining international peace and security.
In that regard, the representative of Jordan, who was President of the second session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, said, with establishment of the International Criminal Court, the Council was well positioned to refer relevant situations to the Court. Not only were there strong legal arguments to be made in favour of such action, there were also practical considerations. There was a limit to the number of legal specialists worldwide who were qualified and willing to staff ad hoc, special or hybrid courts, and funding of those ad hoc arrangements could also be a serious problem.
As countries attempted to balance the needs for justice and recirculation, the representative of Uruguay noted the need for amnesty laws in certain cases. Article 16 of the International Criminal Court Statute granted the Council the right to request the Court to defer investigations or prosecutions that might have commenced. That constituted a clear recognition that justice and the maintenance of international peace and security could sometimes be incompatible goals. Resolutions 1422 (2002) and 1487 (2003), however, which concerned exemptions from jurisdiction of the Court for peacekeeping troops from States not party to the Statute,were not correct applications of article 16, he said.
In closing remarks, the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, Hans Corell, noted that applying the rule of law ultimately rested with the people who were set to exercise judicial functions. Those people must have sufficient knowledge and skills, and they must understand they were set to serve the society in which they worked. They must also have the integrity to exercise their functions. Senior officials must set the example, as teachers and mentors of a generation. By the same token, it was important that the Council take the lead in setting the example at the international level.
The representatives of Italy (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Japan, New Zealand, Serbia and Montenegro, Austria, Liechtenstein, Romania, Switzerland, Finland, Canada, San Marino, Sweden, Philippines, Australia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Argentina, Trinidad and Tobago, Republic of Korea, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Denmark and Bahrain also spoke.
The meeting, which started at 10:15 a.m., was adjourned at 1:40 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider “Justice and the Rule of Law: the United Nations Role”. The meeting follows the ministerial-level session of 24 September 2003, during which, through a statement read by the Council President, it invited all Member States to contribute to enhancing the United Nations role in establishing justice and the rule of law in post-conflict societies. [For further information, see Press Release SC/7880 of 24 September.]
JEAN-MARIE GUEHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, speaking on behalf of several United Nations departments within the Secretariat engaged in supporting justice and the rule of law in post-conflict societies, said the restoration of the rule of law was a sine qua non for the sustainable resolution of conflict and the rebuilding of secure, orderly and humane societies. Too often, the United Nations had failed to give that critical sector the importance it was due and rule of law activities had been considered a subset of the “real mandate”. “We can no longer afford to treat the rule of law as a side activity in which we engage alongside political objectives”, he said. In many cases, it lay at the heart of the success or failure of peacekeeping operations.
He said that did not mean that the United Nations had neglected the rule of law, but, in some cases, the failure of a peace agreement to address rule of law concerns had tied the United Nation’s hands. It was, therefore, essential to ensure that the rule of law figured prominently even at the early stages of peace negotiations. Transitional administrations in Kosovo and Timor-Leste had provided the United Nations with broad mandates in the area of rule of law, bringing to light a number of important lessons. In the case of Kosovo, Member States were not structured to provide qualified personnel quickly enough and the need for international judges and prosecutors had not been appreciated. However, despite successes after a difficult start, the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo had difficulty recruiting qualified international judges and prosecutors and ethnic bias could still taint cases handled by the local judiciary. Since the missions in Kosovo and East Timor, the Organization had learned that significant assistance in the judicial and corrections areas should not be limited to interim administration missions.
He said in the case of Liberia, the Secretary-General had recommended that the criminal justice chain be addressed in a comprehensive manner, and those recommendations had been adopted by the Council. Liberia would be a real test of the United Nations’ ability to move beyond a piecemeal approach to the rule of law, and lay the foundations for a truly just and peaceful society. Focusing on the full criminal justice chain might prove to be more efficient and save dollars and lives. Judicial and corrections mission component costs were quite small compared with the more substantial costs of deploying a large military force. Support for the rule of law was a good investment, he said.
Recognizing the need for peacekeeping operations to address the entire criminal justice chain, he said in February the Criminal Law and Justice Advisory Union, within the Civilian Police Division, had been established. Rule of law focal points in eleven United Nations departments and agencies now conferred regularly on rule of law issues. Concrete results were beginning to emerge from that initiative. Recently, assessments in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia had been conducted. The Advisory Unit was also exploring the desirability of establishing a rule of law trust fund.
Turning to the matter of post-conflict justice regarding serious violations of international humanitarian law, he said international tribunals had proved that it was possible to deliver impartial criminal justice on the international plane. Those tribunals, however, had also not always proved to be efficient or effective for trying those suspected of the most serious crimes. They had been too slow and too costly. Truth and reconciliation commissions seemed to offer the best prospects for meeting the various expectations and demands both of individual victims and of the societies from which they came. However, that was not enough. Ideally, the crimes should be addressed within the framework of the ordinary court system, which might require the assignment or allocation of prosecutors and judges who had the requisite expertise, as well as other forms of specialized assistance.
He said the Council could do much to facilitate efforts in the field of rule of law. Post-conflict justice should be conducted on the basis of case-by-case assessments. It must also be ensured that any amnesty clauses in peace agreements excluded amnesties for war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
Staffing remained one of the greatest challenges, he said. Access to high-quality police, corrections and judicial officers must be ensured. There was also the need for broad geographic representation. The issue of gender was equally challenging. Member States could assist by providing staffing, as the United Kingdom had done in the case of Kosovo. Another model for Member States was to serve as lead nation for assistance to a particular sector. Standby arrangements, whereby Member States committed to provide an integrated package of resources and personnel as soon as the need arose, should also be explored.
In conclusion he said, the United Nations was learning lessons, strengthening its capacities, and developing ways to work together more efficiently. What remained to be seen, however, was how effective the United Nations family would be in developing peacekeeping mandates, allocating adequate budgets, deploying human and other resources, and -- most difficult of all -- implementing those mandates in the field. “We cannot hope to assist in building stable, peaceful societies if the crucial area of rule of law is neglected”, he said.
MARCELLO SPATAFORA (Italy), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Iceland and Norway, said justice and the rule of law were at the core of the peaceful settlement of disputes and of harmonious coexistence both at national and international levels. During the last decade, the nature of armed conflicts had radically changed and the United Nations had often been called upon to intervene in the reconstruction of national societies disrupted by atrocious conflicts. Results achieved such as in Kosovo, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan were encouraging. Liberia would be the next test case.
He said establishing ad hoc international tribunals had made an important contribution to reconciliation in post-conflict societies. The Union also strongly believed that the International Criminal Court provided a powerful, permanent instrument of deterrence against heinous international crimes. Rule of law elements should be included in mission mandates. In that regard, the Union supported the formation of legal assessment teams comprised of civilian police and other rule of law elements in the planning process for new missions. Specific attention should be devoted to promoting the establishment of legislative transparency, reliable civilian police structures, an independent judiciary, the right to fair trial and a penitentiary system.
Accepting and promoting such a new approach entailed the assumption of new responsibilities on the part of the United Nations, he continued. The United Nations should, in that regard, continue exploring all possible forms of cooperation with international organizations that could provide expertise. Since 2001, the European council had consistently recognized transitional justice and the rule of law as a priority area in the European Union’s crisis management operations. The Joint Declaration on United Nations-European Union cooperation in the area of civilian and military crisis management, signed last week in New York, was intended as a further tool for the United Nations to achieve set, concrete targets. Also, the Union remained convinced that the success of a rule of law mission lay to a large extent on the involvement of local actors. A rapid build-up of capacities and subsequent handover to local ownership was essential.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said that, given the lack of an integrated international government, it was essential to create a framework for agreements in which as many States as possible would participate. In that context, the law-making function of the United Nations was extremely important.
Regarding specific topics, he said it was important for the international community to render justice for serious crimes when the State could not do it itself. While the international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda were great advances, they were also proceeding too slowly and at too great a cost, and he requested that the Council conduct rigorous monitoring. He also hoped that the United Nations could contribute to the Khmer Rouge trials.
The most important recent development in the area was the birth of the International Criminal Court, he said. It was crucial that the Court meet the expectations of as many countries as possible. Other priorities were combating terrorism and making justice and the rule of law integral to promoting human security and promoting development. In that context, assistance from the international community for legal system building in post-conflict societies was critically important.
DON MacKAY (New Zealand) said that, given the many elements that are involved in establishing the rule of law, much depends on effective coordination within the United Nations system. The extent of the task of rebuilding a legal system will vary from situation from situation. One of the Council’s first tasks in a post-conflict situation, therefore, should be to complete an assessment of the existing legal system. The mandate for any international mission should then describe and authorize developments of specific elements of the judicial and law enforcement system.
He said that a fundamental element of the effort was delivering justice for the victims of crimes committed during the conflict, and international tribunals must be established when national courts were not capable, or the crimes were of an extremely grave nature. Judicial mechanisms alone might not be enough. Complementary mechanisms, such as truth and reconciliation mechanisms, might be needed to strike the right balance of justice and reconciliation. Those mechanisms should be assisted by the international community, but ownership and decision-making should take place at the national level.
DEJAN SAHOVIC (Serbia and Montenegro) fully supported the view that peace-building was only fulfilled by establishing institutions that guaranteed the primacy of law. There were many references during the ministerial meeting to the role of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in securing the rule of law in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija. However, the achievements had been far from satisfactory. Not a single perpetrator of ethnically motivated crimes had been apprehended and a culture of impunity surrounding violence against minorities had emerged. In addition, there had been no major breakthroughs in fighting widespread organized crime.
As an explanation for those failures, he cited an insufficient number of judges, prosecutors and UNMIK staff dealing with police and justice issues. Due to the resulting climate of insecurity, the chances for returns of internally displaced persons were receding. In the context of the situation, he found very useful the suggestions calling for the United Nations to establish a standing database of experts to assist in the areas of justice and the rule of law. In addition, international tribunals, such as the one for the former Yugoslavia, had been valuable, but had a mixed record, with a variety of different perceptions about its purpose. The goal must be to bring individual perpetrators of crimes to justice. They should concentrate on the higher echelon cases and refer lower-level cases to national jurisdiction, which should be strengthened through international assistance. In concluding, he said the creation of the International Criminal Court was also a major step forward.
GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria) said his country had contributed substantially to the training of local police, State border and justice officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo. As a member of the Human Security Network, Austria was a strong advocate of the rights of civilians, in particular children, in armed conflicts. Training for police and the judiciary and the establishment of child protection units, as well as raising awareness among combatants, were important in that regard. The recent Liberia mandate was a positive example.
He said a priority for societies ravaged by war or internal conflict was to ensure that perpetrators of the gravest war crimes and crimes against humanity were brought to justice. He supported the creation of international criminal tribunals, as well as establishment of the International Criminal Court, which was designed to ensure that national authorities devoted serious attention to their obligations to investigate and prosecute such crimes. The International Criminal Court, thereby, contributed to the efforts of the Council to ensure respect for international law. He was confident that the United Nations and the International Criminal Court would cooperate successfully to achieve their common goal of strengthening the rule of law and justice in international relations.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that it was hard to imagine an effective application of the rule of law without having permanent courts in place that enforce it. The International Court of Justice was the primary body in that regard, when relations between States were concerned. The situation was more complex concerning individuals who violated international law, however, and the United Nations could play a decisive role in assisting States to enhance their national capacities to bring such cases to justice. To enhance the Organization’s capacity in that area, the proposed pool of legal experts should be established.
Ad hoc tribunals, he said, had played a valuable role. They had, however, also been plagued by a variety of problems rooted in the ad hoc character of the undertaking, ranging from managerial to credibility issues, and their costs turned out to be way out of proportion. From that experience, it was clear that a permanent international court was needed. The International Criminal Court could motivate States to strengthen their judicial mechanisms and could assist States, especially those emerging from conflicts, in delivering justice according to the Rome Statute.
MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said justice and the rule of law were major threads in the fabric of Romania’s successful transition to democracy. His country had a more immediate understanding of the complex challenges of transition now facing other countries, being a nation that had struggled to rebuild a democratic society based on the rule of law, a market economy and respect for human rights. Transition was not easy, but it was the only way to guarantee durable economic prosperity and social cohesion. The role played by the rule of law had a tremendously formative influence on shaping or consolidating national identity.
Atrocities and injustices as a result of civil wars and State repression could easily fuel new cycles of violence, he continued. Impunity could undermine trust in the legal system, increasing the risk of vigilante justice and encouraging further atrocities. Mistrust and hatred between former adversaries inhibited political reconstruction, decision-making and economic development. The International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the International Criminal Court were important steps in the right direction. United Nations goals and concrete activities related to justice and the rule of law in post-conflict countries should be placed in a coherent framework, including police reform, good governance and a functioning and accountable system of public administration.
PIERRE HELG (Switzerland) said, by creating the international Tribunals, the Council had acknowledged the link between peace and international justice. The establishment of the International Criminal Court was a response to the same logic of complementarity between the pursuit of justice and the promotion of peace. While the International Criminal Court was independent from the United Nations, both institutions would benefit from a close and cooperative relationship. Establishment of democratic institutions and the rule of law was also essential to prevent hostilities from breaking out or reigniting. Elections in themselves were not enough to ensure the rule of law. More was required to ensure the accountability of institutions to the law, the separation of powers, and the free exercise of fundamental freedoms.
He said it was important that every Council mandate concerning post-conflict situations include provisions on promoting justice and the rule of law.
Justice -- with its three pillars of the judiciary, police and correctional system -- must be a constituent part of any peace and reconstruction process. As soon as a peacekeeping operation was considered, the United Nations must start to plan its engagement, so as to be ready to act rapidly and in coordination with the other players when required. International organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe, and the International Organization of la Francophonie had been involved in promoting justice and the rule of law for many years. Their experiences should be better known within the United Nations, to allow for strengthening institutional partnerships.
MARJATTA RASI (Finland) said rule of law aspects should be mainstreamed in the work of the United Nations, which meant enhancing the capacity of the Secretariat. There were only two staff members at the Criminal Law and Judicial Advisory Unit. The focal point network provided important information and support, but was not in a position to carry out substantive day-to-day work of the unit. Increasing the Unit’s capacity would enable it to meet the needs of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
She said rule of law aspects should be included in the mandates of current and future multidimensional peacekeeping operations and experts should participate actively in the planning. When the mandate of an existing operation was reviewed, a multidisciplinary United Nations working group should analyse whether the rule of law aspect had been effectively addressed. It must be remembered, she said, that any improvements in the area remained superficial unless they enjoyed the support of the local population. Special emphasis should be put on strengthening the national rule of law institutions. Dealing with past crimes became a core issue in the process of establishing trust in the judicial system. Her country, therefore, fully supported the International Criminal Court and the ad hoc tribunals.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said his country supported continued attention to justice and the rule of law, especially in the areas of peacekeeping; peace-building; the protection of civilians in armed conflict; and women, peace and security. The tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda were welcome advances, but had problems because of their ad hoc nature. A standing institution could be more efficient and more effective in deterring mass crimes. National investigations and prosecutions were the preferred solution. The International Criminal Court would promote national action through the principle of complementarity. For example, States would know that, if they did not act, the International Criminal Court would do so.
He was aware, he said, of the strong concerns in some quarters about the theoretical possibility of International Criminal Court investigation of nationals of certain States not party to the Rome Statute. He did not think those concerns were likely to be realized, but he focused on an area in which there was agreement -- that is, where the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court was clearly accepted by the State affected. He cited the situation of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one possible example, and he implored the Council to act decisively to help efforts to restore justice in such situations. He also called on the international community to provide additional funds to allow the Special Court for Sierra Leone to complete its work.
ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said discussions within the General Assembly over the last two and a half years had led to the creation of the Criminal Law and Judiciary Advisory Unit. The Secretariat had also established a “Task Force for the Development of Comprehensive Rule of Law Strategies for Peace Operations” which had produced an excellent and comprehensive report on the rule of law (A/57/711). That report emphasized the need for the United Nations to consult much more closely with local actors in the country concerned, so as not to impose a rule of law strategy on them. The Council should take stock of the current dialogue and work closely with the Assembly, to ensure that the resources needed for any Council decisions will be there. Ultimately, not only should the Advisory Unit be expanded, but the United Nations police function at Headquarters should itself be a part of a Justice and Rule of Law Division, and not vice-versa, as happened to be the case now.
He said with establishment of the International Criminal Court, the Council was well positioned to make use of article 13(b) of the Rome Statute and refer relevant situations to the Court. Not only were there strong legal arguments to be made in favour of such action, there were also practical considerations. There was a limit to the number of legal specialists worldwide who were qualified and willing to staff ad hoc, special or hybrid courts, and funding of those ad hoc arrangements could also be a serious problem. He was convinced that the International Criminal Court, over time, would play a central role in how the Council chose to confront those who committed the gravest of crimes in societies afflicted by war.
GIAN NICOLA FILIPPI BALESTRA (San Marino) said human institutions were imperfect, but the miracle of civilization was that people consistently strove to correct the imperfections. Justice and the rule of law were universally shared concepts that were uniquely defined along standards based on individual national experience. Beneath the diversity of legal theory was a constant theme. Respect for law and the promulgation of justice were essential for civilization to live in peace. Laws must promote the gradual evolution of protecting people and their lives, regardless of economic and social challenges.
He said history had shown the United Nations was successful in facing the complex challenges now before it with regard to justice and the rule of law. Important legal institutions now existed to fight impunity and to ensure peace, security and the rule of law through the realization of justice. The International Criminal Court was one. Some initiatives could be criticized and fears of politicization were understandable. But, historical lessons from the International Court of Justice and other international courts or tribunals showed those fears were inevitably transformed into a broader and more universal relationship of cooperation that had only positive effects.
INGA ERIKSSON FOGH (Sweden) said that her country was fully aligned behind the statement given by Italy on behalf of the European Union. She noted that deficiencies in the rule of law were behind some of the root causes of armed conflict and should be properly addressed. She called for the use of information and analyses tools on such issues by the United Nations human rights mechanisms and bodies.
Sweden, she said, welcomed the increased use by States of the International Court of Justice, which was the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and a central institution for solving inter-State conflict at an early stage. International courts and tribunals had an important role in ensuring rule of law at the international level. The newly established International Criminal Court was an optimal tool for combating impunity, even when States failed to act domestically. The Security Council could have an important part to play in triggering the jurisdiction of the Court by referring situations to it under article 13 of the Rome Statue.
Ms. Fogh stressed the important work that was being carried out by non-State actors promoting justice and the rule of law and called for the international community’s full support of those organizations. She added that, while institution building and the legal infrastructure were important, they were not enough by themselves. The legal system must be just and must be perceived as just by the population. By upholding such legal systems, many causes of conflict in societies can be eliminated. “Justice, rule of law and human rights go hand in hand in peaceful societies”, she said.
LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) said that the issue of the rule of law represented one of the most important responsibilities of the Security Council and one of the main priorities of the Philippines in the United Nations. Establishing the rule of law in post-conflict societies was indispensable if the United Nations was to help establish sustainable and responsible governance there. In that context, he called for the Security Council to provide leadership in moving the United Nations to a stronger commitment to the rule of law within its peace operations.
Mr. Baja emphasized that crucial pitfalls should be avoided to ensure that those most in need of the benefits of the rule of law would actually obtain them. To that end, he said, it was important for local actors and resources to be employed in establishing the foundations of the rule of law and for the local population to have a stake in the process. He also called for serious consideration of power relationships in post-conflict societies, since domination by a single interest group would be detrimental to the rule of law. As part of establishing a comprehensive rule of law, attention should also be paid to the social, economic and political reforms taking place in post-conflict societies.
Experiences over the last decade, he said, had shown that focusing on conflict prevention without paying attention to the rule of law would constitute “a half-baked effort” and could lead to a relapse into conflict. Noting that the United Nations had a wide breadth of expertise and resources regarding the establishment of the rule of law, he called for the Security Council to harness them in order to help societies attain stability and progress.
JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said that his country’s long experience in peace operations, including in the Solomon Islands and through the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), had shown that justice and rule of law considerations must be treated as core components of United Nations missions, and strategies must be implemented as early as possible. The Organization must be engaged on the issue throughout the process of peace operations and appropriate experts must be deployed quickly. In Timor-Leste, as the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) comes to an end, work to consolidate the rule of law must continue.
He said the Executive Committee on Peace and Security’s Task Force on the rule of law provided a valuable guide to current work and future directions on the issue, and he welcomed a report from the Secretary-General. He pointed to Cambodia, in addition, as an example of a situation in which international assistance to domestic legal systems was required to ensure justice. He called on Cambodia to quickly establish extraordinary chambers to try senior Khmer Rouge leaders.
ALLIEU I. KANU (Sierra Leone) said justice and the rule of law were essential elements for building peace and democracy. The absence of the rule of law in certain places Africa, in particular in West Africa, had created an atmosphere in which gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law were often accepted and encouraged with impunity. Developing countries needed the rule of law, in order to live peacefully. But, durable and sustainable peace could not be achieved without the assistance of developed countries. They needed to show more leadership in respect of the rule of law, both nationally and internationally. The Special Court for Sierra Leone needed resources, and he called on States for contributions.
He said the International Criminal Court was now fully operational, but sadly, its Statute had not reached universality. He called on all States, including those on the Council, who were not parties, to sign and ratify the Statute as a matter of urgency. The International Criminal Court was a tool that could be instrumental in not only bringing war criminals to justice, but also in spreading the notion of individual criminal justice for egregious crimes. The Court furthered the Council’s goal of maintaining international peace and security and was not a threat to the sovereignty of States. Accounting for the past and attributing individual criminal liability to those most responsible for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law was one sure way the United Nations could foster justice and the rule of law.
FELIPE H.PAOLILLO (Uruguay), explaining the transitional experiences his country had had after civil strife in the 1970s, the Government had chosen to enact laws that granted amnesty for all political crimes committed both by military and police officials and by members of opposition groups. The Uruguayan people had ratified the amnesty law for military and police personnel through a referendum. A reconciliation commission had been established, which had examined the cases of persons who had disappeared. However, certain sectors of the public and some intergovernmental organizations had disapproved of amnesties.
He noted that the international community had recognized the need to defer the demand for justice in order to ensure the maintenance of peace, and that article 16 of the International Criminal Court Statute granted the Council the right to request the Court to defer investigations or prosecutions that might have commenced. That constituted a clear recognition that justice and the maintenance of international peace and security could sometimes be incompatible goals. Resolutions 1422 (2002) and 1487 (2003), which concerned exemptions from jurisdiction of the Court for peacekeeping troops from States not party to the Statute,were not correct applications of article 16, he said.
ILEKA ATOKI (Democratic Republic of the Congo) focused his comments on the situation in his country which, he said, was emerging from an armed aggression that had caused the loss of millions of lives. As his President had said, to consolidate the new era, a justice system was needed which was just, reliable and equitable. The challenges that faced them were large, however, in terms of institution building and respect for the rule of law. The lack of financial resources, legal facilities and practices were most sorely felt. The need for the rule of law to rectify the illegal exploitation of natural resources, as well as corruption, was also urgent.
After so many deaths, peace required justice in his country, he said. He asked the international community to establish a tribunal for that purpose, and the attention of the International Criminal Court should also be encouraged. There was a shared responsibility between his State and the international community to make sure that the rule of law became a universal reality. Therefore, technical assistance, as well as financial assistance, should be facilitated by the United Nations.
He expressed appreciation for international assistance in pursuing justice, thus far. Reconciliation was important, but there were cases -- for example, such as those involving military officers who were principals in the massacres in Kisangani -- in which no compromise of justice must be tolerated. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said, awaited a prompt reaction from the Security Council to redress the situation of justice and the rule of law in his country.
LUIS E. CAPPAGLI (Argentina) said a society unable to agree on efficient and generally accepted ways of repairing past injustices would not be able to overcome its problems. Justice and its counterpoint, impunity, had a decisive relevance in the pacification of a society affected by conflict. By adopting a more creative interpretation of its capacities under Article 39 of the Charter, the Council had established ad hoc tribunals and special courts and had, thereby, confronted the most complex problem of definitively overcoming injustice. Despite their success, however, they only applied to limited and specific cases. Fighting impunity required a universal mechanism, created before the crime had been committed and on a permanent basis.
He said the International Criminal Court was complementary to national sovereignties and was not in competition with them. The Court was the achievement of an historic goal of justice deeply rooted in the soul of all the peoples. It would modernize the international legal architecture by making sure that the rule of law was applied around the world. The Council must ensure that its mandates adequately reflected the components of justice and the rule of law. Before adopting a mandate, the Council must have an understanding of local characteristics and needs. In mandates, local mechanisms and solutions must be sought. The certainty that a society’s own laws would be restored would contribute to the restoration of dignity and honour to that society.
He said a central element was local police training. Only when citizens realized they had a professional police independent from politics and factions, would they trust them.
KNOWLSON GIFT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, said that the goal of peace for all mankind could not be assured without the strict observance by all members of the international community of the fundamental principles and purposes of the Charter upon which the Organization was based, including respect for international law. A lack of such respect laid the groundwork for anarchy in international relations.
Every part of the United Nations system, he said, had a role to play in the quest for international justice, which could not be imposed externally without the participation of local actors. The Security Council, in particular, should pay more attention to Chapter VI provisions of the Charter, especially judicial methods of avoiding armed conflict, to help strengthen the rule of international law.
He cited the tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the Special Court for Sierra Leone as advances in the pursuit of justice. He said that the International Criminal Court could also make a significant contribution to international peace and security through the requirement that justice be administered at the national level. The obligation for the State to prosecute remained, and it was only when the national authorities were unwilling or unable to prosecute that such a Court should step in. However, the International Criminal Court also strengthened the principle that no one should escape punishment for horrendous crimes.
KIM SAM-HOON (Republic of Korea) said that the establishment of justice and the rule of law in post-conflict societies should be viewed as an investment in sustainable, durable peace. In that regard, he highlighted the importance of capacity-building at the local level. Public awareness programmes had proven effective, although the approach must be tailored to each unique situation. In addition, a system for addressing human rights violations must be put in place, such as those in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, though each society must strike its own delicate balance between uncompromising justice and amnesty in the interest of reconciliation.
Because of the limited time and resources of the Security Council, he said that the various components of the United Nations system, as well as non-governmental organizations, should all contribute to the effort of establishing justice and the rule of law in post-conflict situations through a careful and informed division of labour. He hoped the day’s deliberations would contribute to the common endeavour to safeguard fundamental freedoms and the interests of people in post-conflict situations.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said transforming theory into daily practice was a real challenge for the Organization and the Council, as diversified situations and realities were faced. General working guidelines were important and helpful. The more disrupted and unstable a situation was, the more important it became to provide adequate responses and to offer people a framework of legal guidelines and principles to confront lawlessness. From the report of the Task Force on the Rule of Law in Peace Operations, he highlighted the priority assigned to the engagement of local actors in undertaking rule of law operations. The United Nations should consult with such actors as early as possible in the planning process for a mission. Models were to be developed, not to be imposed.
He said a successful international presence on the ground must be neutral, must behave as facilitators and must take a stern attitude when dealing with the fate of perpetrators of crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court was an achievement of paramount importance in the history of law, as it stated that impunity was not acceptable, regardless of position or prestige. He called on all Member States to adhere to the Rome Statute, so as to make that message even clearer. Truth and reconciliation committees had proven to be effective instruments to facilitate the transition into a new reality. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) ad hoc advisory groups dedicated to post conflict situation in specific countries was also very helpful. Coordination between the Council and ECOSOC should be reinforced, in order to facilitate the reintegration of war-torn countries into the international community.
YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said that the unanimity of views expressed in the Council about the importance of justice and the rule of law boded well for efforts to strengthen the rule of law in international affairs. The Council must, while pursuing that effort, be equitable in applying international law. If not, at the end of the day the victims of injustice might think that they must rely on themselves to restore justice, and that would damage the cause of peace. Putting an end to the environment of impunity must be a priority.
Regarding the situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia, he said that Armenia had continued to ignore Security Council resolutions and injustice had remained, resulting in over a million Azerbaijani refugees, among other effects. The primacy of the rule of law must be universal and the role of the United Nations in that regard could not be overestimated.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LOJ (Denmark) said her country had contributed to establishing the rule of law in post-conflict societies, such as in Albania after the Kosovo crisis, South Africa and the West Nile region of northern Uganda. From those experiences in supporting judicial reform and rule of law, some important lessons could be learned. Close coordination between both bilateral and multilateral donors was of the utmost importance, in order to avoid duplication and competition between different concepts and approaches.
As interventions in the legal area were often highly delicate and politically sensitive processes, she continued, impartiality was crucial, which gave the United Nations a comparative advantage. The United Nations Development Programme should further develop and target its capacity in that area. Broader inter-agency consultations were in order, to better prepare and harness the United Nations for rendering assistance in the often very complex post-conflict situations. One should also explore the vast resources of the non-governmental organization community in the areas of rule of law and legal reform.
TAWFEEQ AHMED ALMANSOOR (Bahrain) said that the role of the United Nations in promoting the rule of law and protecting civilians was crucial. In many cases, the Organization had quickly provided assistance to restore peace, security and justice. In Iraq, the United Nations should act to restore what had been destroyed there.
On the question of the Middle East, he said, United Nations efforts had not always benefited from fairness, and double standards had often been applied. Oppression and arrogance had often been allowed to run their course. The Government of Israel, he said, must comply with Security Council resolutions. If not, the Palestinian people had a right to defend themselves. He hoped that the Security Council would act to make sure that all its resolutions were respected, in the interest of peace, security and justice.
In closing remarks, HANS CORELL, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, said rule of law had to be adopted under democratic rule and with the observation of international standards. As there were different interpretations of the rule of law in different countries and regions, attention had to be paid to those differences. Giving the example of Africa, he said in establishing justice, it was important to look carefully at local traditions, bearing in mind the standards of human rights.
He said most speakers had focused on the justice system. There were, however, three pillars to the rule of law, the first one of which was the parliament of the country. The second pillar was a responsible and accountable administration. The last pillar was an independent and impartial judiciary. Ultimately, however, applying the rule of law rested with the people who were set to exercise those functions. Those people must have sufficient knowledge and skills and they must understand they were set to serve the society in which they worked. They must also have the integrity to exercise their functions. Senior officials must set the example, as teachers and mentors of a generation.
By the same token, he said, it was important that the Council take the lead in setting the example at the international level. The current debate was, therefore, of great importance, as the situation at the international level was precarious. He hoped the work in which all were engaged would prove useful in developing the necessary tools to be utilized in difficult situations.
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