Growing Respect for ‘Rule of Law’ Concept Emerging from Conflict Situations Is Noted by Delegates in Assembly’s Legal Committee

5 October 2011
GA/L/3410

Growing Respect for ‘Rule of Law’ Concept Emerging from Conflict Situations Is Noted by Delegates in Assembly’s Legal Committee

5 October 2011
General Assembly
GA/L/3410
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Sixth Committee

5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)

Growing Respect for ‘Rule of Law’ Concept Emerging from Conflict

 

Situations Is Noted by Delegates in Assembly’s Legal Committee

 

Colombia , El Salvador, Guatemala among Those Citing National Experience;

Recent Events in Parts of North Africa, Middle East Said to Show Promise

A new democracy based on the rule of law and the will of the people had sprung from the recent revolution in Tunisia, instituting deep-seated reforms that would guarantee Tunisian citizens the right to a dignified life, the delegate of Tunisia told the Sixth Committee (Legal) today as it took up its agenda item:  the rule of law at the international and national levels.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the topic, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said the events of the past year, especially in Northern Africa and the Middle East, illustrated a movement towards “government of laws and not of men”.  She said that an effective multilateral system based in international law was essential in the response to global challenges and threats.

The delegates of Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala described how their countries had, through democratization, respect for human rights and unification of society, established rule of law after long periods of armed conflict.  In Colombia, he said, the Law of Justice and Peace, approved by its Congress, demobilized the “Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia”, marking the first time in the world where demobilization occurred without military defeat.  As a result of this process, more than 60,000 confessions were made for acts of murder, abductions and massacre and more than 300,000 victims were recognized and directly addressed.

Significant political, constitutional and democratic reforms did not occur overnight, said the representative of Australia, speaking also for Canada and New Zealand.  Periods of reform, accompanied by periods of instability, required sophisticated, multi-dimensional responses delivered in partnership and at the request of affected societies.

The representative of Sudan said his country had recently recognized South Sudan’s independence as the South Sudanese people exercised their right to self-determinations.  International arbitration had served to delineate borders between Sudan and South Sudan, ending one of the longest conflicts in Africa; no one could deny that the rule of law was inextricably linked to peoples’ security and national and international security.

Calling on all parties to take special measures for the protection of women and girls in conflict situations, Malaysia’s delegate stressed the importance of implementing Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) regarding sexual and gender-based violence in conflict situations.

In the debate today on the rule of law at the international and national levels, statements on behalf of regional groups were also made by Iran for the Non-Aligned Movement, Chile for the Rio Group and Viet Nam for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Also speaking were representatives of Egypt, Senegal, Switzerland, Norway, China, United Republic of Tanzania, South Africa, Liechtenstein, Syria, Japan, United States, Zambia, Kuwait, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, India, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Mexico, Ethiopia, Russian Federation, Costa Rica, Argentina, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Iran, Côte d’Ivoire, Bangladesh, Cuba and Kenya, as well as of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine.

The Committee will meet again tomorrow, Thursday, 6 October, at 10 a.m., to continue its debate on the rule of law at the national and international levels and also to take up the report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations, as well as Observer status for several organizations and criteria for attaining such status in the work of the General Assembly.

Background

The Sixth Committee (Legal) met today to take up the rule of law at the national and international levels.

For its consideration, the Committee has before it the Secretary-General’s second annual report on strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities (document A/66/133).  Covered in the report are key achievements and challenges that strengthened the rule of law over the past year.

The report states that in response to popular calls for greater accountability, transparency and the rule of law, profound political changes occurred in the Middle East and North Africa.  These changes reflected the importance of United Nations engagement in an ongoing process to promote the rule of law at the national and international levels.

The United Nations is providing rule of law assistance in more than 150 Member States spanning every region of the world.  These activities occur in all circumstances, including those of development, fragility, conflict and peacebuilding.  Three or more United Nations entities engage in rule of law activities in at least 70 countries; five or more entities are involved in more than 35 countries.  Evidence supports the trend towards more joint and comprehensive initiatives by key operational entities in the rule of law field, particularly in conflict and post-conflict settings (where there are 17 peace operations with rule of law mandates).

The report notes that the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group made advances in system-wide strategic coordination and coherence.  This included streamlining policy and guidance, supporting coherent action in countries and expanding partnerships that place national perspectives at the centre of rule of law assistance.  Other complementary actions included increased efforts to measure the effectiveness and evaluate the impact of its rule of law assistance, and its strategic and joint engagement at the country level.

According to the report, addressing statelessness is a fundamental and integral part of United Nations efforts to strengthen the rule of law.  An estimated 12 million people worldwide are stateless and the possession of nationality is essential to full participation in society and the enjoyment of fundamental human rights.  On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) redoubled efforts to promote accession to and implementation of the two key statelessness conventions.

Also during the reporting period, new international standards were developed that codify the protection of women in certain realms of criminal justice, including those engaged in crime prevention and those within the penal system.  The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime received several new ratifications, accessions or acceptances.  In this regard, other achievements were made in the areas of international and hybrid courts and tribunals, as well as in non-judicial mechanisms.

Under its framework for strengthening the rule of law, the United Nations supported constitution-making in several countries, particularly in South Sudan where it ensured that women leaders were involved in drafting the transitional constitution.  The Organization also contributed to improved national legal frameworks and built the capacity of nations to operate strong justice, governance, security and human rights institutions.

During the past 12 months, the report says, the United Nations advanced a sector-wide approach to the rule of law by growing linkages between law enforcement and prosecutorial and judicial authorities.  To further address challenges in conflict and post-conflict settings, the Organization ensured that national Governments gave rule of law ample attention and political space; accountability existed at the national level for international crimes; and strong linkages between rule of law and economic recovery were fostered.

The report makes several recommendations toward cultivating a just, secure and peaceful world governed by the rule of law.  Those recommendations are:  expanding the use of joint programming in peacekeeping and special political missions; enhancing collaboration among United Nations entities in non-mission settings; establishing system-wide incentives for joint programming; strengthening the Organization’s approach to measuring the effectiveness of rule of law assistance; strengthening the joint training of United Nations rule of law professionals; and convening relevant actors to share practices and foster policy.

In conclusion, the report defines the upcoming high-level event on the rule of law, to be held at the beginning of 2012, as an important opportunity to renew the commitment to universal adherence to, and implementation of, the rule of law at the national and international levels and to take stock of progress.

An annex contains the views of reporting States — Australia, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Kenya, New Zealand, Oman, Qatar, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkmenistan, and the United Kingdom.

Introduction to Report

ASHA-ROSE MIGIRO, Deputy Secretary-General, introducing the report of the Secretary-General on strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities, said the events of the past year, especially in northern Africa and the Middle East, illustrated a movement towards “government of laws and not of men”.  She stated that the Sixth Committee was a crucial component in maintaining attention on the rule of law at the national and international levels, and that an effective multilateral system based in international law was essential in the response to global challenges and threats.  To this end, the greater utilization of treaty-based mechanisms, particularly the International Court of Justice, should be encouraged.

With the focus of this year’s debate on the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict settings, she observed the Secretary-General’s report highlighted the work of international and hybrid criminal tribunals and the Organization’s efforts to strengthen the Rome Statute System towards a more coherent approach to assisting Member States, as they investigated and tried perpetrators of serious international crimes.  She also spoke in support of other transitional justice mechanisms, such as the Commission of Inquiry, which had been mandated in Libya, Côte d’Ivoire and Syria.

Turning to institutional arrangements, including the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, she spoke of the efforts to achieve a “clearer policy framework” through the development of joint approaches within the Organization on critical cross-cutting issues, such as transitional justice and constitution-making, to name a few.  Among other similar efforts, she spoke of United Nations offices and peacekeeping missions also increasing their joint programming, with new initiatives in Haiti, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Chad.  However, she called for an overcoming of institutional hurdles and an establishment of system-wide incentives for joint programming in order for “deeper cooperation” to be possible.  In this regard, a stronger monitoring system would make possible a clearer assessment of these efforts.

Stating that, although the external environment remained fragmented, and that support for States with numerous and “often conflicting assistance programmes” proved inefficient, she urged all to strive towards more consistent and joint approaches.  “Speaking with one voice is crucial if we are to assist national leaders with difficult institutional reforms,” she said in conclusion.

Statements

ESMAEIL BAGHAEI HAMANEH ( Iran), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, said a balance must be struck in developing the national and international dimensions of the rule of law.  Tantamount to fostering international relations based on the rule of law were several principles:  the sovereign equality of States, which recognizes their opportunity to participate in the international law-making process; States having equal respect for and compliance with obligations under the United Nations Charter; respect for the legitimate and legal rights of States under international law; and the prohibition of the threat or use of force in the international relations of States.

Human rights, rule of law and democracy were interdependent and mutually reinforcing, he said.  Member States should renew their pledge to uphold, preserve and promote the principles and purposes enshrined in the United Nations Charter and international law.  Expressing concern about the application of unilateral measures, he said no State or States had the authority to deprive other States of their legal rights for political reasons.  Member States should respect the functions and powers of each principal organ of the United Nations, particularly the General Assembly.  Close cooperation and coordination among these organs would enable the United Nations to remain relevant and capable of meeting threats and challenges.  Nevertheless, the Security Council should not encroach upon the scope of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.

The international community, he continued, should provide legal support to Member States at their request, within United Nations mandates and with respect to national customs, political and socio-economic realities.  In conclusion, he condemned any attempt to destabilize the democratic and constitutional order of any Non-Aligned Movement Member State.

SUE ROBERTSON (Australia), speaking also for Canada and New Zealand, called attention to the past year’s events in North Africa and the Middle East, where peoples across the region demanded political and constitutional reform and greater democracy.  Such significant changes could not occur overnight; periods of reform, accompanied by periods of instability, required sophisticated, multi-dimensional responses — including political and security sector reform, capacity-building of Government institutions and transitional justice mechanisms.  Such support, she said, should be delivered in partnership and at the request of affected societies.

Welcoming increased coordination between Department of Peacekeeping Operations and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), she recalled that improved sharing of information about rule of law projects by donors and the United Nations system was necessary to effectively support this sector.  Australia and New Zealand, together with 13 other Pacific nations, had played leading roles in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, helping to restore law and order, foster economic recovery and develop Government institutions.

Turning to the topic of international courts and tribunals, she said Canada continued to support the Special Court for Sierra Leone and had been a strong supporter of these international judicial bodies over the past decade.  Both demand for, and confidence in, the work of the international criminal courts and tribunals had grown in recent years; these entities, however, should be viewed as only one part of the solution to establishing rule of law in post-conflict settings.  Action at the national level was also required.  Hybrid international courts allowed for greater local ownership and participation.

Noting that truth commissions also played a key role in reconciliation, he said he hoped that the recent launch of the reconciliation commission in Côte d’Ivoire would forge unity.

OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), speaking for the Rio Group of countries, said the Group applauded the actions and efforts taken by the Secretary-General and the relevant United Nations agencies and organizations in the goal to strengthen the rule of law.  However, the efforts should include elements applicable not only to post-conflict communities, but to “all communities worldwide”; strengthening the rule of law was not specific to just one region or country, but a global aspiration.

He recalled comments made by the Rio Group last year, that for international law to be successful, an in-depth understanding of each socio-political context and of local needs and realities was necessary.  The concept of “local ownership” was not self-evident and needed clarification in each situation.  Further, rule of law structures should to be in place nationally, in order to implement international obligations.  On a regional platform, agreements and mechanisms played a significant role in fostering the rule of law within Member States, with common projects built upon shared values and principles.

He said he welcomed the search for new avenues that improved coordination and promoted dialogue, furthering the relevance of the rule of law to all communities alike.  In this regard, he underscored the recently adopted resolution at the Human Rights Council to establish a United Nations Special Rapporteur.  The creation of this new special procedure, he stated in conclusion, represented a valuable contribution to “the fight against impunity in the framework of the United Nations”.

LE HOAI TRUNG (Viet Nam), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said strengthening the rule of law at the national and international level was central to achieving the vision of the United Nations for a more just, secure, progressive and peaceful world.  The entry into force of ASEAN’s Charter in December 2008 signalled a new chapter in history, and would transform the Association into a rules-based, people-oriented and closely integrated community by 2015.

He said the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Women and Children demonstrated the collective commitment of the Association to good governance, and the creation of a truly people-centred ASEAN.  The eighteenth ASEAN Summit, held in Jakarta on 7-8 May this year, emphasized the need for the Association to enhance its capacity to ensure greater peace, security and stability in the region; and decided to begin the process to establish an ASEAN institute for peace and reconciliation; the institute would undertake relevant researches and studies, and provide counsel and recommendations to ASEAN governments on the promotion of peace and reconciliation.

ASEAN, he added, was to immediately finalize the Guidelines on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and it would begin the discussion of identifying elements of a regional code of conduct.  The Association was committed to realizing a community of Southeast Asian nations that was grounded upon a firm commitment to the rule of law at national, regional and international levels.

IBRAHIM SALEM ( Egypt) said fostering the rule of law at the international level required enhancing joint efforts in the fields of codification, development and implementation of a framework of norms and standards, without selectivity or double standards.  He said the process in North Africa and the Middle East — in the light of the current year’s revolutions and their consequences — required United Nations support, in building the capacity of national Governments and institutions through technical assistance, upon request and according to national needs.  He commented that no progress had been made in organizing a conference in 2012 on establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and he urged that procedural measures be completed to allow for that conference to be convened within the agreed timeframe.

He said approval of the Palestinian request for United Nations admission would also reflect a true commitment to the rule of law at the international level.  Nationally, coordination among United Nations organs that implemented constitution-making programmes and worked to strengthen transitional justice mechanisms in post-conflict societies was important.  Such programmes must empower Governments and ensure full respect for the principle of national ownership, since the aim was to help national stakeholders develop their own reform agenda.  Experience showed that the rule of law was strengthened when reform efforts adhered to the principles of inclusion, participation and transparency.

MALICK NDAO ( Senegal) said the rule of law was an integral component in the process toward peace in conflict and post-conflict situations.  It was “part and parcel” in restoring peace and justice, and it was also essential that these efforts be based on the respect for human rights and focus on the rights of victims.  In that regard, he commended the special “hybrid” tribunals for providing fair justice and redress to victims; past events showed that these tribunals played an important part in the process of reconciliation.

Continuing, he noted that in the process of peacebuilding, countries often lacked the essential infrastructure to establish institutions critical to the delivery of the principles of the rule of law.  In that regard, international aid was fundamental for the rebuilding of the structures of the administration of justice.  He said that much remained to be done to promote a durable peace and lasting reconciliation based on the respect for the rule of law, he stressed that there was no doubt a collective commitment to the rule of law at national and international levels would challenge the obstacles facing its establishment, especially in countries emerging from conflict.

NIKOLAS STÜRCHLER ( Switzerland) said that in the aftermath of massive violations of human rights or international humanitarian law, measures were needed to strengthen the rule of law and avoid a recurrence of such violations.  Switzerland welcomed the debate on the rule of law and the attention devoted to the issue of transitional justice.  He said he was encouraged by examples of operational cooperation on the part of the United Nations system to establish the rule of law, particularly in “fragile and post-conflict” situations.

However, he continued, further efforts were needed, and the capacity of the United Nations system to respond jointly must be improved.  To strengthen synergies within the United Nations and meet unfulfilled needs, both institutionally and in the field, Switzerland, with Argentina and Morocco, presented a draft resolution calling for the appointment of a special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence.  The task of the special rapporteur, cooperating closely with all United Nations actors, would be to gather relevant information, as well as to identify good practice and lessons learned.

He said Switzerland recommended that special attention be paid to the conclusions of a recent World Bank report on the occasion of the high-level debate on the rule of law in 2012; the debate should include a discussion of rule of law, transitional justice and the policy of complementarity.  There should be special effort to collect good practice and lessons learned at the national and regional levels.

ANA CRISTINA RODRĺGUEZ-PINEDA (Guatemala) recalled that, since 2006, when the United Nations and her country worked together to establish the National Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, the country had successfully prosecuted emblematic criminal cases, engaged in capacity-building and promoted important legislation.  The Commission’s mandate was last year renewed for two additional years.  She said the creation of the body, at the request of Guatemala, was an audacious attempt to overcome structural obstacles in bringing about national rule of law, and national institutions had achieved greater proficiency as a result.

Despite the country’s established peace agreement in 1996, she said, clandestine illegal bodies were not disbanded and continued to operate with impunity.  Domestic organized crime groups had merged with cross-border criminal groups.  Nevertheless, Guatemala had moved on from human rights abuses occurring during its long period of armed conflict towards strengthened national legal and security mechanisms.

ANNIKEN ENERSEN (Norway), commending the debate as an opportunity for hearing the perspectives of the States, underscored some areas which she said were essential to the promotion of the rule of law.  One was the link between development and the rule of law, and she stated that potential financial investors needed “some degree of predictability, clarity and security” before investing in particular markets; if a community could not provide safeguards due to the lack of an infrastructure delivering the principles of the rule of law, development would be impeded in that area.

On the issue of impunity for serious crimes, she noted that the trend towards universal agreement on the need to combat impunity was one of the major developments in international relations during the last decades.  She said she welcomed the support received by the tribunals from the Security Council in the continuation of their work.

She stressed that there was no “one-size-fits-all” solution in implementing transitional justice arrangements, each response needed to be tailored to the situation in question.  However, common factors were identifiable, among others, that the justice mechanism was wanted by the people it would serve, and that those people would have ownership of that mechanism.  She stressed the “importance of maintaining a safety net of coercive mechanisms, such as criminal proceedings, to ensure full cooperation with the informal justice mechanism.”

WANG MIN ( China) said the achievement of the rule of law at the international level, within the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, was important to world peace, stability and development.  It was in the common interests of people around the world.  At the national level, strengthening the rule of law would help maintain social stability, promote economic development and achieve social justice; and in an increasingly globalized world, the link between international and national rule of law was growing ever stronger.

It became imperative, he continued, for the international community to facilitate positive interaction between the rule of law at the national level and at the international level so that they informed, complemented and learned from each other, and made progress together.  In discussing the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict situations, he believed a number of relationships should be considered — the relationship between legal and other means, the relationship between universality and specificity, the relationship between short-term plan and long-term goals, and fourth, the relationship between national ownership and international assistance.

He said the Chinese Government had pursued a foreign policy of peace and development, and attached great importance to international rule of law as shown by its active engagement in the international legislative process.  Accordingly, the rule of law was a high priority on his Government’s agenda and had been one of is fundamental guiding principles.

TULLY M. MWAIPOPO (United Republic of Tanzania) said respect for the rule of law was a cornerstone for the peaceful coexistence of nations and an essential prerequisite for relations among States.  Non-conformity to the rule of law could result in States taking unjustified, damaging unilateral actions.  With respect to an international legal order, the United Nations had a prominent role to play.

Turning to the situation of States in conflict and post-conflict settings, the United Nations had played a commendable role in restoring justice and rule of law.  Reaffirming his country’s commitment and support to the International Criminal Court, she said she attached great importance to States ending impunity and prosecuting those responsible for war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international law.

She also applauded the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Special Court for Sierra Leone for playing a pivotal role in establishing rule of law and institutionalizing human rights in post-conflict settings.

DIRE TLADI ( South Africa) noted that, since the rule of law became a topic of the General Assembly’s agenda five years ago, much of the discussion had focused on rule of law at the national level.  This discussion had been of great importance, particularly to establishing the link between the rule of law, economic development and justice, among other things, but insufficient attention had been given to the international rule of law.  This was not just about the number of instruments adopted, ratified or implemented, it was just as much about “the normative content”.  Examining this content could begin with asking whether the United Nations and its Charter reflected principles of deliberative democracy and a culture of justification, held its organs accountable for adherence to its foundational values, and insisted on the equality of its members.

He said recourse to the International Court of Justice would alleviate concerns that resolutions were not being implemented faithfully, or were being implemented beyond the boundaries of international law.  On the issue of Palestine’s membership in the United Nations, she said a decision not to grant that membership, based on “the ground of any fact not contained in Article 4(1) of the [United Nations] Charter, would indicate a lack of adherence to the rule of law.”

He said the fact that not a single African or South American State was represented on the Security Council stood in stark contrast to the United Nations principle of equality for all.  The General Assembly, on the other hand, continued to be an “illustration of deliberative democracy.”

STEFAN BARRIGA (Liechtenstein) noted the international community’s had progressed of justice in “transitional settings”, particularly through the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, as well as through mixed tribunals and fact-finding and inquiry missions.  There were, however, limits to the impact of these mechanisms, including the limited number of cases that could be dealt with at the international level.  In the absence of international capacity, the capacity of individual States needed to be improved to provide justice for conflict-related crimes.  Although the United Nations had assisted a number of countries in strengthening their prosecutorial systems, such capacity-building lacked a clear centre of coordination and support.

He said the Secretary-General should designate a lead entity for improving domestic criminal justice systems.  As the challenges with prosecuting serious domestic crimes domestically were often similar, capacity-building did not need to focus on specific crimes, but should instead enhance the ability of national authorities to deal with all aspects of complex criminal trials and investigations.

Because political will was essential to making rule of law a national priority, he said, he looked forward to the high-level meeting on the rule of law to be convened during the General Assembly’s next session.  He also expressed interest in the Secretary-General’s proposal to create an inclusive international policy forum on the rule of law to enhance coordination and align the work of the many ongoing bilateral assistance programmes.

MAZEN ADI ( Syria) said the issue at hand was of great importance in the current circumstances; the encroachment of the Security Council on the General Assembly was an attack on the rule of law on an international level.  This resulted in “astounding multi-complicity” of the Charter, with the use of force and the intruding on territorial integrity.  In this context, he said, the negative impact of unilateral levels of the rule of law was harmful in many ways.  States should respect international law, and he stressed the need to respect the sovereignty of States, their territorial integrity, the rights of people under occupation, and their right to self-determination.

He stressed Syria’s commitment to seeking peaceful resolution of conflict.  Yet, despite the rule of law, its implementation in international relationships was lacking because of existing double standards, and the use of force against weaker parties.

He said that the response of his country’s authorities to its people at the beginning of recent “tragic events” was swift.  The President had published reforms that were implemented quickly.  These reforms were instituted to allow for greater participation in the political process, the development of national unity, and the protection of people, to name a few considerations.  Also adopted were new laws on political parties and the electoral process, and local government had been placed in the hands of the people.  Laws on peaceful demonstrations, freedom of information and the independence of the media were also instituted, as well.  He added that a national committee would be convened soon to review his country’s Constitution.

These “sweeping reforms”, he said, were a response to the people, despite the interference of other parties.  Notwithstanding the historic progress made in the rule of law at the national level, he emphasized that each country had unique circumstances, culture, customs, and history; the rule of law could take multiple forms unique to each country and there must be sensitivity to those attributes and qualities.  This would avoid political coercion and the trampling on a State’s sovereignty.  In conclusion, he stated that human rights, the rule of law and democracy were intertwined and that each country needed to uphold the rule of law in accordance with the Charter and international human rights.

YUKIHIRO WADA ( Japan) pointed out the important role of international courts in strengthening the international rule of law.  Japan had accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and had contributed judges to the court, as well as to the International Criminal Court, Japan had been a main supporter of these bodies.  As the largest contributor to the budget of the International Criminal Court, he welcomed the new countries that had recently become party to the Rome Statute, particularly the Philippines and Maldives.

He said the United Nations to date had adopted 13 codification treaties based on work of the International Law Commission, and he called upon other Member States to ratify those conventions.  The Sixth Committee would discuss the law of transboundary aquifers during the current sessions, and he looked forward to working with other delegations on this matter.

Noting that the “mere creation of law could not make it complete nor ensure that it functioned autonomously,” he said there was a constant need to re-examine how laws could enhance peoples’ well-being.  Regional frameworks, such as the Asian-African Consultative Organization, had played an important role in this regard, promoting rule of law at the international level.

MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ ( Colombia) said that the debate on the rule of law was directly related to the process of “transitional justice” occurring in his country.  The Law of Justice and Peace, approved by its Congress, demobilized the “Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia”, and it was the first time in the world where demobilization occurred without military defeat.  Through amnesty, dialogue and negotiation, an agreement was signed.  It was crafted to allow people from other factions to be included under its auspices.  As well, the agreement also ensured a mechanism to compensate victims.

The scope of this initiative was huge, he added, and resulting in more than 60,000 confessions made for acts of murder, abductions and massacre; the prosecution of public officials participating in illegal activities, and more than 1,000 requests for pardons from the victims and families of victims.  Further, more than 300,000 victims were recognized and directly addressed.

He said demobilization of the self-defence groups, and the handing over of more than 18,000 weapons, illustrated a “before and after” picture of the violence of Colombia, whose President, with the United Nations Secretary-General in attendance, signed measures to assist and provide reparation to victims and the return of land that was confiscated by the illegal groups, or which was abandoned by its inhabitants because of the presence of violence.  The challenge facing his country was enormous, he added, with more than 4 million victims entitled to benefits.  However, he said in conclusion, Colombia was ready to “pick up the gauntlet” and he called upon the international community “to accompany them into the process.”

MARY B. DEROSA ( United States) said that profound political changes in the Middle East began with, and grew out of, popular calls for greater accountability, transparency and the rule of law.  The high-level meeting on the rule of law to be held during the next General Assembly session would therefore serve as an important opportunity to take stock of both progress and challenges in this area.

She said one of the most consistent and powerful lessons learned from more than two decades of rule of law and transitional justice assistance programme was that those programmes had been crucial to post-conflict recovery.  A key to building a sense of national ownership of rule of law programmes was to send highly qualified and competent people to participate in them.

Supporting the work of the United Nations and other actors to assist communities in moving beyond “divisive pasts”, she said this was ultimately something communities themselves had to embrace, with civil society playing a prominent role.  Countries needed to build their capacity and special skills to be able to investigate gender violence and mass crimes, and to protect judicial officers, victims and witnesses.  Strengthening the rule of law at the national level would minimize the onus placed on international bodies to act.  On the other hand, certain cases could be justly tried only at the international level, such as referral of the Libya situation to the International Criminal Court.

LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE ( Zambia) said that his country strongly supported the rule of law at both the national and international levels.  On the national level, it was implementing an “Access to Justice” programme, offering legal aid in all provincial centres with an eye towards ensuring that the rights to a fair trial and adequate representation of all accused persons were met.  It had also established a Small Claims Court, and was working to combat domestic violence through the enactment this year of an Anti-Gender-based Violence Act.

On the international level, Zambia had served on the United Nations Human Rights Council and was a member of the African Union’s Peer Review Mechanism.  It was committed to the State Party Reporting Process, which helped the Government take stock of its policies and weaknesses in meeting its obligations under international human rights law.  He noted that Zambia had recently finalized a report on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  It also continued to participate in the promotion of the rule of law by contributing troops and other personnel to conflict and post-conflict situations around the world.

He told the Committee that because of limited capacity and lack of resources, rule of law remained a challenge, particularly for developing countries, such as Zambia.  He therefore called upon the international community to render technical assistance and provide capacity-building to strengthen national institutions related to the rule of law.

AHMAD ABDULRAHMAN AL-SHURAIM ( Kuwait), declaring respect for the United Nations Charter and for human rights, said that in Kuwait, the people were the source of legislative, executive and judicial authorities.  Next month, the country would celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, marking the issuance of its Constitution.  This, he said, was “one of its most outstanding accomplishments in fostering democracy and rule of law”.  The United Nations, he continued, should play an integral role in assisting other States with laying down the foundations and building constitutions.

With adherence to international legal principles, the sovereignty of States should not be encroached upon through the use of force or the threat of force, he said.  Disputes between States should be dealt with peacefully and in alignment with international law.  Specifically, in the case of the Arab struggle, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was the gravest threat to peace and security in the Middle East.  During the past six decades, the United Nations had failed to find a solution to this issue, which had grown in complexity.  Israel continued to disrespect international legitimacy, expanding its settlements, imposing its blockade in Gaza, confiscating Palestinian land, torturing and detaining Palestinians, and undertaking deliberate provocative actions, most recently the burning of a mosque in the village of Tuba.  Such arrogance could be countered only by an adequate response for the international community.  These perpetrators should be held accountable, he said.  Kuwait supported the Palestinian Authority’s application for membership in the United Nations.

U KYAW MYO HTUT ( Myanmar) said the rule of law was fundamental at both the national and international levels, which were complementary and interdependent.  The United Nations had a central role to play in the further codification and progressive development of international law.  The challenge faced by the international community was to absorb and implement international and regional treaties into respective domestic law systems.

He said these processes, particularly in developing countries, could be facilitated by capacity-building, wider dissemination of international law and the provision of technical assistance, at the request of recipient governments.  Recognizing the primacy of international customary law and the obligation of States to ensure its laws were consistent with international regulations, he said the principles embodied in the United Nations Charter would be effective only if all States complied with their international obligations arising from it.

JOAQUĺN MAZA MARTELLI ( El Salvador) said respecting the rule of law was not specific to States in conflict, but an obligation to all States.  It was also undeniable that States in conflict or emerging from conflict were faced with greater challenges to instituting the rule of law — economic crises, trauma to populations, and weak institutions, among others.  Transitioning at such times made laws that had been enforced during conflict appear incompatible in post-conflict settings.  This discrepancy, he noted, could be resolved within the meaning of the rule of law.  It was not just the primacy of law, but the basic factors that defined law including, among others, respect for human rights, a balance between State Powers and sectors, and a fair judicial system.  The rule of law was no mere legality, but needed to yield to the essential value of justice and equality.

He noted that, after 12 years of armed conflict, which ended in 1992 with the signing of a peace agreement, El Salvador had had the full experience of transition and that the role of the United Nations was a determining factor.  Essential components in the process included the ending of the war by political means, the democratizing of the country, the respect for human rights and the unification of society.

In addition, various legal measures had been taken, including, among others, the Commission of Truth, the purging of the armed forces and a civil police force that was separate from armed forces.  In recent years, he added, measures had also been taken in response to the request for pardons of victims.  Each society, he concluded, must adopt measures in this process that was “attuned” to their society and the type of conflict from which they were emerging.

SAMIR SHARIFOV (Azerbaijan) said existing mechanisms that monitored and promoted compliance of States with international laws were sufficient, but not effective in responding to challenges; increased efforts were needed to ensure respect for the principles of international law, “without distinction”.  Resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly must be implemented without “selective approach”.  The United Nations must address threats impacting the basic elements of international law.  The populations of displaced persons, refugees, women and children, brought “urgency” to the need for restoring the rule of law.

He said that the threat to the territorial integrity of States contradicted the obligations of States under the Charter.  Unlawful use of force had still not been removed from international relations.  Military aggression and foreign occupation were examples of the non-compliance of individual States with the norms and principles of international law.  The United Nations must be consistent in its approach to implementing the rule of law and avoid the practice of “double standards”; otherwise, Member States experiencing injustice might believe that “they have to rely solely on themselves in restoring the justice.”

RAM GOPAL YADAV ( India) expressed appreciation for the Guidance Note issued by the Secretary-General in May this year, which set out the principles and framework for the promotion of the rule of law in relations between States, between States and international organizations, and between international organizations themselves.  While the rule of law at the international level was the very foundation of the United Nations Charter, advancing the rule of law at the national level fostered democracy, sustainable economic growth, sustainable development, eradication of poverty and hunger, and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The United Nations continued to assist in the development and implementation or international norms and standards related to the rule of law, he said, including in the fields of crime prevention and criminal justice.  Specifically, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols and the United Nations Convention against Corruption had recently been ratified.

He said India was a strong believer in respect for the rule of law and the application thereof in both the internal affairs of States and at the international level.  All conflicts should be handled peacefully without the use of force.  As the largest democracy in the world, India had always adhered to democratic principles in the formation and change of governments.  The capacity of States needed to be strengthened, especially among developing countries, as rule of law assistance had sometimes been piecemeal, in some instances donor-driven, and not always in line with national priorities of recipient countries.  Capacity-building approaches should be nationally driven, sustainable and capable of garnering requisite political and popular support.

MELANIE PAONI TUPA (Democratic Republic of Congo) said her country sought to improve the rule of law in the legal sense and had undertaken the reforming of its judicial branch.  It recently abolished its court of military order and established both a children’s court and commercial court.  A judicial code was being instituted and the new Constitution laid the groundwork for a reformed judicial system, which defined a new organizational system for the upper echelons of the court system.  A “far-reaching” action plan focused on human rights, which included, among others, a moratorium on the death penalty, the rehabilitation of juvenile centres, the system of Presidential pardons and the reduction of crimes punishable by death.

There was also an increased effort toward capacity-building and performance improvement, she said, with an articulated system between the police, the courts and the prisons to ensure smooth running between civil and criminal branches.  Her country was resolutely moving toward democracy, as illustrated by the upcoming — and second free and transparent — election occurring.  She also called for support and attention from the international community for the reforms it had made to its judicial system, which was established as fair and trustworthy system, in line with the Charter and the rule of law.

KI-JUN YOU ( Republic of Korea) said that at the national level, establishing the rule of law was key to helping create and sustain the necessary conditions under which political, social and economic development could take place.  Although it was important for all States to settle disputes peacefully, parties should decide the means for settlement, whether it be through judicial or non-judicial means.

Despite the United Nations prominent role in promoting the rule of law at the national and international levels, he said it was important to recognize the challenges that remained for the rule of law to be strengthened.  Rule of law assistance “involved many actors and voices”.  The broad range of rule of law activities, from law enforcement training to human rights protection to support for sustained economic development, demonstrated its comprehensive nature.

He called for greater coordination and coherence among all relevant stakeholders to enhance the rule of law, and he welcomed the high-level event on the matter which would be held during the next Assembly session.

EDUARDO JOSÉ A. DE VEGA ( Philippines) said the social contract between the President and the Filipino people was the “promotion of just and lasting peace and the rule of law”.

Noting the observation in the report that too few States were party to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, he announced that a month ago the Philippines became the first country in Southeast Asia to become party to it.  In addition, his country’s instrument of ratification for the Statue of the International Criminal Court was deposited in August of this year.

He said that his country was working closely with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, building the capacities of its peacekeepers, particularly in combating sexual and gender-based violence.  In June of this year, police officers from the Asia Pacific region met for the first of a series of regional United Nations training seminars on this issue.  He said the upcoming thirtieth anniversary of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was a reminder for States to adhere to their international commitments in order to “build a safer, more secure and more stable world.”

SÁNCHEZ CONTRERAS ( Mexico) said the United Nations must take into account the national and local needs of States when strengthening the rule of law.  This included the provision of many types of technical assistance in transitional situations.  The International Criminal Court and the ad hoc criminal tribunals had strengthened application of the rule of law.  He said the values and principles espoused by the constitutions of different countries offered constant feedback on the rule of law, which was of great importance to transitional justice and post-conflict situations.  In this regard, he added, it was important to reach national consensus on what judicial mechanisms were needed in different countries, based on their specific context, particularly with regard to political changes in North Africa and the Middle East.

Calling for greater coordination among United Nations entities engaged in rule of law activities, he said there was a need for a “lead” office on this matter.  Applying the recommendations offered in the Guidance Note issued by the Secretary-General would improve coordination among entities responsible for the application of international law.  He spoke of UNCHR, saying Member States should be helped with upholding the rule of law by addressing the issue of statelessness.  That issue should be examined further in future sessions.

YANIT HABTEMARIAM ( Ethiopia) said the rule of law advanced socio-economic development and promoted the protection of human rights, because sustainable economic development could only occur in societies where the rule of law was firmly established.  In this way, the rule of law enabled people and institutions to “fulfil their dreams and aspirations individually and collectively”.  She said her country had in place a five-year “Growth and Transformation Plan”, which would contribute to sustaining rapid and broad-based economic growth.

She said the plan was built on the principles of good governance and capacity-building, and included developing systems that strengthened democratic and judicial institutions, citizens’ access to information, and strengthened the participation of the public on all levels to ensure transparency and accountability of public administration.  These efforts were being implemented in accordance with the country’s Constitution and the principle of the peaceful resolution of disputes.  She called for the United Nations to maintain its efforts through increased assistance to countries and to take into account each country’s national priority and strategies.

DIANA TARATUKHINA (Russian Federation) welcomed the United Nations efforts to assist with long-term judicial reforms in the context of conflict and post-conflict settings.  She said political resolve and national responsibility should also be strengthened.  In this regard, the ongoing bilateral dialogues between United Nations senior officials and Governments may well be effective.  This dialogue, however, must be restricted by the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of States.

Turning to specific conflict and post-conflict situations, she said the early recovery programme of UNDP in Sudan and the social and economic reintegration of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo were good sources of information about legal practice in this area that could inform similar programmes elsewhere.  Since the needs of societies were diverse, legal instruments needed to be diverse, as well, and could include truth commissions, national assistance to restore legal systems, victims’ compensation systems and reconciliation.  Each State must decide what was best for its situation.  Russia actively made contact with Member States to remain informed about the rule of law in different post-conflict situations.  During the next General Assembly session, rule of law blueprints could be presented from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other post-conflict and conflict societies.

EDUARDO ULIBARRI ( Costa Rica) said national and international dimensions of the rule of law were interdependent in the development of human rights.  However, he was sorry that human rights, democracy and the rule of law in practice were the weakest in the pillars in the United Nations, and it was time to rethink the Organization’s priorities and refocus its efforts.  This was a practical consideration, he said, that would result in fewer conflicts occurring, more lives saved and more resources saved which would then allow for development to be supported.  When legislative powers and representation were effective, an environment of fairness, tolerance towards diversity, and intolerance for corruption, was present and development was then speeded up.

Acknowledging recent events in the Middle East and North Africa, he noted some who were still struggling under difficult circumstances and others who were preparing to create a new order.  Concluding, he stressed that the International Court of Justice played a crucial role in settling disputes, thus making the rule of law the foundation for international justice.

FERNANDA MILLICAY (Argentina) said strengthening the rule of law involved several crucial aspects:  capacity-building; fighting impunity; and the peaceful settlement of disputes.  On capacity-building, she said the participation of Member States was essential, particularly through their involvement in peacekeeping missions within conflict and post-conflict settings.  United Nations mandates should give priority to the capacity of States to ensure the rule of law, especially through a strengthened judiciary and law enforcement.

Taking up the issue of impunity, she said that, since the adoption of the Rome Statute, the fight against impunity had moved towards a permanent international criminal justice system based on the Court.  The international community had notably developed rules and standards on the right to truth, justice, reparation and the guarantee of non-recurrence as “pillars” for combating impunity.  Just some days ago, she observed, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to establish a Special Rapporteur of the United Nations for the promotion of these rights and guarantees in cases of violations of human rights and of humanitarian law.

Finally, on the peaceful settlement of disputes, she said that the International Court of Justice and other tribunals played a central role.  Resolving disputes peacefully, however, also required that the disputing parties fulfilled, in good faith, all obligations to negotiate within the relevant United Nations organs.  Argentina had also fostered regional mechanisms for strengthening the democratic order among neighbouring States.

ABDUL HAMEED ( Pakistan) said the United Nations symbolized optimism for collective cooperation in human affairs; its activities in various parts of the world were seen as an embodiment of hope.

It had a central role in the promotion and preservation of rule of law by demonstrating examples in its work.  Resolutions and decisions of the Security Council must be implemented uniformly and without discrimination, irrespective of their adoption under Chapter VI or Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.  Selectivity in design and implementation of the Council resolutions created an atmosphere neither conducive for resolving conflicts nor for strengthening rule of law at national level.  Efforts to make the Security Council sanctions regimes fair and transparent were welcome.  Much remained to be done to improve the revised procedures and to meet the basic requirements of rule of law for ensuring a fair and transparent listing or de-listing of individuals and entities.

The rule of law was a prerequisite for the restoration of normalcy in post-conflict divided societies, he said.  United Nations peacekeeping troops had been performing additional duties of peacebuilding in post conflict situations.  Their achievements were, rightly, a source of satisfaction and great pride for their “parent countries”, including Pakistan.

He said “partnerships among various stakeholders” should be expanded by placing national perspectives at the centre of rule of law assistance.  The rule of law at the national level could be improved only by strengthening national ownership of reform initiatives, by providing support to national reform constituencies, and by giving a central place to national-level assessments.

He said Pakistan supported the ending of impunity for financial crimes; the international community should strengthen and improve cooperative mechanisms to ensure that looted money, or other assets acquired through corruption and other unlawful means, were returned to their countries of origin.

MATTANEE KAEWPANYA ( Thailand), noting that the topic was “classic in nature but contemporary in its application”, spoke of his country’s own process as it underwent various political, economic and social challenges over the years.  Regardless of the circumstances, he said, Thailand maintained its commitment to the rule of law.  Those principles were enshrined in their Constitution.  In the recent election in July of this year, the first female prime minister was elected, and there was a peaceful political transition. 

He noted that a Commission for National Reconciliation was being established to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand.  This commission would be an important mechanism in implementing the national reconciliation policy and restoring democracy.  In that regard, the rule of law would be strengthened.  He said that the high-level conference that would be convened next year would be an opportunity to further explore modalities on this issue.

YUSRA KHAN (Indonesia) said respect for the rule of law was the cornerstone of peaceful coexistence among nations, and an essential pre-requisite for relations among States.  At the international level, the rule of law was encapsulated in the norms of international law.  The rule of law was a universal goal of all nations as an effective instrument for establishing and maintaining social order, promoting and achieving social justice, and advancing social progress.

He said multilateral cooperation based on the rule of law was essential for effectively addressing current and future global challenges.  The United Nations had a crucial role in expanding international law and must continue to fortify the mechanisms for ensuring its effective implementation.  The International Court of Justice was a major organ of the United Nations which, over the years, had won great admiration through the quality of its work in promoting the rule of law through peaceful settlement of disputes between States.

He said the Security Council played a pivotal role in promoting the rule of law, and should base its decisions in international law, particularly the United Nations Charter.  In the context of transitional justice or in conflict and post-conflict situations, it was important to underscore the need for close collaboration among the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, in facilitating the restoration and consolidation of the rule of law in such societies.

Each conflict solution was different, he said, and “one-size-fits-all” formulas should be avoided.  Justice and rule of law dimensions should be integrated into any international or United Nations involvement in post-conflict society, from the beginning.

He said national rule of law strategies must be complemented by the international rule of law.  It was important to strike a balance and have synergy between the pursuit of justice and the maintenance of peace and security.  In this context, establishing the rule of law means building on the three pillars, which are the goals of the United Nations:  peace, freedom, and development.

CAETANO GUTERRES (Timor-Leste) emphasized that as a young nation that had restored independence in 2002, Timor-Leste considered the rule of law to be a priority as a foundation to lasting peace and stability.  As a post-conflict country, it was cognizant of the importance of working toward peaceful solutions while strengthening the rule of law.  The country had prioritized the formation of strong justice institutions that complemented the work of policing and security sector reform.  He said building the capacity of young countries like Timor-Leste would require increased expertise and resources, particularly in the realms of training and policy implementation.  The United Nations Development Programme was currently supporting the Justice System Programme and the country’s Legal Training Centre.  Access to justice, most notably in rural areas, had increased.  Although the number of cases heard in the national judicial system had steadily increased, there was a backlog of several thousand cases.  As confidence in the justice system continued to grow, he said, more citizens were registering their claims.  To continue to inspire confidence, increased capacity-building was necessary.

DOMINIQUE FERNANDES ( Malaysia) said transitional justice mechanisms for States affected by conflict should be specific to each conflict zone or national situation for a smooth transition to the rule of law.  She stressed the importance of implementing Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) regarding sexual and gender-based violence in conflict situations, and called on all parties to take special measures for the protection of women and girls in such situations.  She said she was concerned at the lack of accountability, in such cases, as shown by the paucity of prosecutions.

She said transitional justice mechanisms mandated by the Organization for peacekeeping missions should provide for the necessary expertise to gather necessary evidence and for witness protection, which was crucial to those cases.  A cohesive strategy was needed to change the perception of societies that believed sexual violence during conflict was acceptable.

The rule of law and transitional justice, she continued, were prerequisites for international peace and were rooted in human rights law and principles.  The Human Rights Council played a crucial role in affirming the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict situations.  Protecting the fundamental rights of women and children was especially important with the recent establishment of a mandate for a special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.

ESMAEIL BAGHAEI HAMANEH (Iran) speaking for his country, said each nation had a sovereign right, sanctioned in international law and the United Nations Charter, to establish its own model of the rule of law and administration of justice based on the principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in their internal affairs.  While the new internal system for the administration of justice within the Organization appeared to be working, staff must be held accountable for any misconduct, including any committed in peacekeeping and other missions.  He supported all initiatives to ensure the criminal accountability of the Organization’s officials and experts on mission, including the development of an international instrument to that effect.

Further, the role of the General Assembly in the development and codification of international law, under the Charter, must be appreciated by the Security Council, he said.  Decision-making based on the politically motivated analysis of some permanent Member States undermined the Council’s credibility and reputation; The “tool of law” was not immune from abuse, he asserted.  National legislation must not contravene international law.  Nor should domestic legislation be used unilaterally for extraterritorial application against other countries.

YOUSSOUFOU BAMBA ( C ôte d’Ivoire) said his country was emerging from a crisis of ten years that had culminated in a violent post-election situation because the former president “failed to bow to the ballot box”.  That period resulted in 3,000 people dead, 1 million displaced and 500,000 refugees.  The experience of a recent freely chosen and fair election increased the people’s determination to strengthen democracy in his country.  The demand for freedom and for justice was great and it went “hand-in-hand” with the rule of law.  The new president was promoting democracy, enforcing human rights and making the rule of law a reality in daily life through the establishment of the Ministry of Human Rights and Public Freedoms.

The delegate said national legislation was being brought in line with international standards.  However, national reconciliation must not overshadow the need for justice to be done; the gross violation of human rights, the death of 3000 people, the arbitrary arrests and the rapes could not remain unpunished.  He said the rule of law without the existence of a truly independent judicial system could not succeed.  Côte d’Ivoire was determined and obligated to guarantee citizens access to a fair system, with a goal of becoming an emerging nation in 2020.  He thanked the international community for all its assistance in his country’s endeavours.

MOHAMMAD SARWAR MAHMOOD ( Bangladesh) called on the United Nations to offer more technical assistance and national capacity-building in order to better implement international law around the world.  He urged that such assistance be expanded into broader areas of international law and focus on the specific needs of Member States.  He also said that there should be a call for increased contributions to the Secretary-General’s Trust Fund to Assist States in the Settlement of Disputes through the International Court of Justice.  Furthermore, there was a need for regular dissemination of information among Member States on the activities of the Rule of Law Assistance Unit.

On a national level, he noted that his country was actively promoting the rule of law and justice in all areas of life, in particular through administrative, judicial and electoral reforms.  The Government had separated the judiciary from the executive branch of government and strengthened the Anti-Corruption Commission, an independent watchdog.  In addition, a Human Rights Commission was established, ensuring that international standards of human rights and personal freedoms would be maintained nationally.  With the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), multiple workshops were given throughout the country on issues addressing women’s rights, violence against women, and the rights of migrant workers, among others.  These workshops successfully created mass awareness of these issues.

LESTER DELGADO-SÁNCHEZ ( Cuba) said sovereign equality, good faith compliance by States, the peaceful settlement of disputes, avoidance of the use of force, non-interference by States in the internal affairs of other states and non-selectiveness should govern the international relations of States in promoting the rule of law.  The will of the international community could not supplant national authority.  National legal orders should be strengthened with regard to self-determination and without political strings attached.

He said compliance by States with obligations under international treaties to which they were a party was indispensable to strengthening the rule of law at all levels.  He expressed grave concern with the unilateral exertion of the criminal and civil jurisdiction of international courts in some countries as well as the economic, social and financial blockade by the United States against Cuba.  The rule of law was being undermined in these contexts.  He also rejected the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s military attacks against the Libyan people, which were a violation of the United Nations Charter and said he condemned the “genocide” against the Palestinian people.  To uphold the rule of law, the International Criminal Court and Security Council could not be used as political instruments and the use of arms and force by imperialist nations had to end.

WANJUKI MUCHEMI ( Kenya) said the effort of the United Nations in pursuit of the rule of law had ushered the international community into a new era, specifically in the area of international criminal justice.  Because the rule of law was paramount to international peace and security, relevant rule of law activities should be coordinated to overcome any challenges.

Kenya had put in place various measures to entrench the national rule of law including a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.  The country’s new constitution, promulgated in August 2010, contained a robust Bill of Rights, ensuring that the rule of law had been protected and preserved.  The principles of international law were applicable in Kenya and the country had enacted several new institutions to promote, protect and uphold the rule of law including an International Crimes Agency, a Witness Protection Agency and Board, and an Attorney General’s Office.  The country had also recruited judges to the High Court and was engaged in reforming the security sector.  A high-level meeting on the rule of law would be welcome during the General Assembly’s next session.

NEJMEDDINE LAKHAL ( Tunisia) said that after recent events in his country and the resulting independence, deep-seated reforms took place to institute democracy including, among others, a general amnesty for political prisoners.  This led to Tunisia ratifying several conventions that guaranteed the rights of its citizens to live in dignity, such as the Optional International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  His country also acceded to the Rome Statute, another sign of its commitment to ending impunity.

He said that a legitimate State reflected the will of its people.  To that end, free and transparent elections with international observers would be held soon for the first time since independence.  Further, a new constitution was being drafted, based on the rule of law and in honour of the men and women who gave their lives in the recent struggle.  He thanked the Secretary-General for personally visiting Tunisia after the revolution; his presence affirmed the values and principles of the Organization.

HASSAN ALI HASSAN ( Sudan) said it was undeniable that the rule of law was inextricably linked to peoples’ security, as well as national and international security.  The international system should be fair and balanced with no double standards or politicization.  Calling attention to the national context in Sudan, he said the country had been able to apply the comprehensive peace agreement adopted through negotiations.  Just recently, the South Sudanese people exercised the right to self-determination and declared their independence.  The international arbitration court served to delineate borders between Sudan and South Sudan, leading to an end to one of the longest conflicts in Africa.  Sudan had set up several national committees of inquiry in regions that bordered South Sudan and a general prosecutor was appointed to investigate abuses carried out in Darfur by the army.

The temptation to “play with the principle of international justice” had just one result:  undermining the international peace and justice system.  This game was being played out within the realm of international organizations.  International organizations should reactivate their means of finding peaceful settlements by using regional bodies and renewing the role of the International Court of Justice.

YOUSEF ZEIDAN, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, stressed that the national and international levels of the rule of law were intertwined and were of “absolute importance”, as the Palestinian government had been working with the international community to build strong State institutions that would provide for the needs of its citizens under occupation and despite occupation.  This State institution-building programme had received high praise from the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Union, among others.  Additionally, the justice system was being strengthened through the development of legal aid, juvenile justice, forensic medicine and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.  These, among many efforts on the part of the Government, resulted in significant improvements and promotion of the rule of law on a national level.

He said that despite these accomplishments, the Israeli occupation remained the “greatest obstacle” to completely administering justice and establishing the rule of law throughout Palestine, which experienced an undermining of its security efforts and a limiting of its ability to meet the safety and security need of almost half of its citizens.

He referred to the continued building of illegal settlements, the setting of fires to holy places and the continued construction of the illegal wall, among other Israeli violations of international law.  The international community must hold the occupying Power accountable for its actions, in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.