Syria Calls for Application of Rule of Law in ‘Unimaginable’ Situation Facing Country, as Sixth Committee Concludes Rule of Law Debate
Syria Calls for Application of Rule of Law in ‘Unimaginable’ Situation Facing Country, as Sixth Committee Concludes Rule of Law Debate
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
6th & 7th Meetings (AM & PM)
Syria Calls for Application of Rule of Law in ‘Unimaginable’ Situation
Facing Country, as Sixth Committee Concludes Rule of Law Debate
Delegates Urge Security Council Reform
As Debate Begins on Special Charter Committee
The rule of law could never be realized if States continued to threaten and disrupt the internal affairs of others, support extremists abroad, and apply unilateral sanctions, Syria’s delegate told the Sixth Committee (Legal) as it concluded its debate on the rule of law and began consideration of the Special Committee on the Charter and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization.
Syria was experiencing an unimaginable situation, continued that country’s delegate, borne out of calls for legal reform. He decried the unilateral sanctions that had harmed his country’s citizens and demanded that States offering a haven to, and arming and financing terrorists to stop. He urged that the calls by Syria’s authorities to return to the rule of law be heard.
Putting peace before violence had ended a “costly and perpetual civil war”, said the representative of the United Nations newest Member State, South Sudan. Noting the support of international judicial bodies that had helped broker the peace agreement that led to independence, he emphasized that the rule of law would be the bedrock on which South Sudan’s constitution would rest.
As another country that had experienced decades-long conflict and strife, Afghanistan’s delegate said he was “keenly aware” of both the importance of and challenges of making the rule of law a daily reality. Eleven years ago, when Afghanistan began State-building with support from the international community, the rule of law was placed at the core of restoring lasting peace and stability, and enabling Afghans to take full charge of meeting their security, governance and development needs.
The representative of Bolivia, on the other hand, spoke of his country celebrating 30 years of a democratic Government, the longest run in its history. Democracy was also reflected in the election of that country’s first indigenous Bolivian President, which represented the majority of Bolivia’s citizens, who were also indigenous. However, although the “winds of democracy had been blowing in Latin America”, the delegate said, “it had not yet reached the United Nations”.
Reform of the United Nations was no longer a choice, the representative of Tunisia stressed. In discussing the work of the Special Committee on the Charter, she pointed out the need for “deep democratization” of the Security Council, a sentiment echoed by the delegate of Sudan who described the Security Council composition as outdated. It was “high time” the Council made changes to further its role in the maintenance of peace and security, he stated.
However, the Special Committee’s efforts to reduce the backlog of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council was commended by several delegations, including Ukraine, who urged Member States that had not yet done so to make their voluntary contributions to the trust fund.
Although delegates expressed concerns on the effect of sanctions on third parties, the representative of the Delegation of the European Union pointed out that, in recent years, the Security Council had demonstrated that sanctions could be designed in a targeted way to minimize adverse consequences. There had been no appeals since 2003 by third party States affected by sanctions and he urged that the topic, no longer relevant, be removed from the Special Committee’s agenda.
Introducing the Special Committee’s report was Garen Nazarian, Chairperson of the Special Committee on the Charter and on strengthening the Organization’s role. Vaclav Mikulka, Director of the Codification Division on the Status of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, introduced the reports on the status of the Repertory. A report on the status of the Repertoire was then given by Gregor Boventer, Chief of the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch of the Department of Political Affairs.
In procedural matters, the Committee elected Pham Quang Hien ( Viet Nam) as its new Rapporteur.
Also speaking on the rule of law at the national and international levels were the representatives of Argentina, Slovenia, Nicaragua, Poland, Congo, Gabon, Russian Federation, China, Maldives, Nigeria, Iran, Greece, Qatar, Eritrea, Israel, Zimbabwe, Trinidad and Tobago, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Libya, Venezuela, Niger, Ecuador, Sri Lanka and the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine. Representatives from the International Development Law Organization, the International Criminal Court and the International Committee of the Red Cross also spoke.
Other speakers on the Special Committee were the representatives of Iran (for the Non-Aligned Movement), Egypt (for the African Group), Chile (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Philippines, Republic of Korea, El Salvador, China, and India.
Speaking in a right of reply were the representatives of Chile, Morocco, Algeria, Israel, Kuwait, the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine and Syria.
The Committee will meet again tomorrow, 12 October, at 10 a.m. to resume its debate on the Special Committee on the Charter and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization and to consider its next topic: criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission.
The Sixth Committee (Legal) met today to conclude its debate on the rule of law at the national and international levels (for background, see Press Release GA/L/3435), and to consider its next agenda item: the Special Committee on the Charter and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization.
The Committee had before it the report of the Special Committee on the Charter and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (document A/67/33). Also under consideration were the Secretary-General’s reports on the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs and Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council (document A/67/189) and the Implementation of the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations related to assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions (document A/67/190).
The report of the Special Committee addresses the Charter as it relates to assisting third States affected by sanctions. The document describes sanctions, when applied in accordance with the Charter, as important instruments for maintaining and restoring international peace and security. Although several delegations expressed concern about unilateral sanctions imposed unlawfully and resulting economic problems, neither the General Assembly nor the Economic and Social Council had taken any action in 2011 in regards to assisting affected States. Some delegations, therefore, were of the view that the matter no longer warranted the Special Committee’s attention.
On that same topic, the report mentions a revised working paper from Libya. Responding to that paper, delegations emphasized that sanctions should be applied only as a last resort, with clearly defined objectives, based on tenable legal grounds, for a specific time frame and never as a preventive measure. The International Law Commission was urged to consider the legal consequences of sanctions arbitrarily imposed by the Security Council. As well, delegations pushed for consideration of compensation to targeted and/or third States affected by unlawfully imposed sanctions.
Also mentioned in the report are two revised proposals and two working papers. The revised proposals, one from Libya and the other from Cuba, focused on strengthening the role of the United Nations and its effectiveness. The two working papers, one from Venezuela, and the other from Belarus and the Russian Federation, addressed the legal consequences of States using force without the Security Council’s prior authorization and without proper implementation of the Charter-mandated functions of the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.
On the peaceful settlement of disputes, the report notes that, for the first time, the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes, produced by the Special Committee, reflected the development of a comprehensive plan and the consolidation of a legal framework on the topic. The report contains the text of a draft resolution related to that declaration.
The report also addresses the Special Committee’s working methods, urging the Special Committee to improve its efficiency, possibly by configuring a solid thematic agenda to make better use of resources and meetings, avoiding the duplication of work of other United Nations bodies and issuing only “self-contained and operational” recommendations. It also suggests that the Special Committee consider shortening its sessions, noting that, because its working methods did not facilitate legal analysis, it had not met its full potential. It further urges that the Special Committee not apply its “work by consensus” methodology as a form of veto.
An annex to the report on the Special Committee contains the working paper from Cuba, focused on the adoption of recommendations related to strengthening the role of the Organization and enhancing its effectiveness.
Turning to the Secretary-General’s report on updating the Repertory and Repertoire, the Assembly was requested, in regards to the Repertory, to consider increasing the use of the Organization’s internship programme and its collaboration with academic institutions. Regarding the Repertoire, progress had been made in updating the publication and in enhancing the Repertoire website, as well as implementing efficient measures to expedite the simultaneous preparation of Supplements. Cross-cutting notations and recommendations for both publications focused on making them available electronically in all languages, encouraging voluntary contributions by Member States to the established trust funds and increasing voluntary associate experts to update the publications.
The final report, on implementing the Charter’s provisions related to assisting third States affected by sanctions, highlights operational changes that occurred since the Security Council and its sanction committees shifted their focus from comprehensive economic sanctions to targeted sanctions. The report also describes recent developments in the activities of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in regards to assisting third States affected by sanctions.
The report recalls that as of 10 May this year, the Sixth Committee had answered 25 requests for guidance on Libya, particularly on how to minimize the potential unintended consequences of assets freezes in third States. It states that nearly every time the Security Council had called for freezing designated parties’ assets, it also adopted exceptions by which States could notify the Sanctions Committee of their intent to authorize access to those assets. The Security Council had decided that an assets freeze, for example, would not prevent the designated party from making payment under a contract entered into prior to the listing of that party, provided certain conditions had been met and the relevant States had been notified.
The report then focuses on the roles of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in assisting third States confronted with economic problems arising from sanctions. Should consultations be requested by a State, the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council would mobilize and monitor assistance offered. However, because of the Security Council’s shift to targeted sanctions, the need to explore assistance efforts had waned, with no official appeals by third States made since June 2003. That shift called for new methodological approaches, specifically case-by-case assessments, to evaluate the sanctions’ impacts.
GUIDO CRILCHUK ( Argentina) said strengthening the rule of law involved several crucial aspects. The first was capacity building in which Member States’ commitment and participation in peacekeeping missions was essential, particularly in conflict and post-conflict situations. Thus, it was a priority to support a State’s capacity to ensure the rule of law, especially its efforts towards strengthening its internal judicial and police systems.
He went on to say that another aspect in strengthening the rule of law was the fight against impunity. Accountability for the gross violation of human rights was crucial. Fortunately, the international community had shifted from the “justice versus peace” paradigm in conflict and post-conflict situations. He also noted that it was a paradigm according to which political arrangements put accountability aside through de jure or de facto amnesties. Today, peace and justice were not only compatible but also complementary objectives.
Lastly, he said that an important aspect in strengthening the rule of law was the peaceful settlement of disputes where the International Court of Justice played a central role. Noting other specialized tribunals, he underscored the importance of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea to which his country was a party. Stressing the need for parties to comply in good faith with the calls made by the Organization’s bodies, including the General Assembly, he said third parties to dispute must refrain from conduct that could frustrate the fulfilment of parties to resolve disputes peacefully.
URSKA KRAMBERGER-MENDEK ( Slovenia) said that special attention should be devoted to the prevention of mass atrocities and the fight against impunity. Stressing that international criminal courts, in particular the International Criminal Court, were important in establishing the rule of law, she called on all States to become state parties to the Court, cooperate with it and implement its decisions and judgments. As a staunch supporter of the International Criminal Court, her country had already incorporated both Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute, on aggression and on war crimes, into its national legislation in May of this year and was now in the process of ratifying them.
She went on to say that the prosecution of international crimes was a primary responsibility of States. In that context, she noted the importance of strengthening the legal framework for judicial assistance, including extradition, between States for the effective prosecution of international crimes at a national level. She said her country, together with the Netherlands and Belgium, had begun discussions to that end.
Concluding, she said criminal courts aimed to remedy atrocities that had already occurred. However, the international community should strive to prevent them. Recalling the Secretary-General’s report on the responsibility to protect, she said that Member States, regional and sub-regional organizations and the United Nations should form an intergovernmental forum of like-minded countries to provide the concept of the responsibility to protect new tools for the prevention of mass atrocities, as well as develop a mechanism that would enable a more rapid and effective response to acts of genocide and other mass atrocities.
TAMARA TIJERINO ( Nicaragua) said that as a democratic country, Nicaragua had demonstrated respect for the rule of law through its commitments to the economic, political and civil rights of its citizens. At the international level, she stressed that it was vital to reform the United Nations, and in particular the Security Council, so that it could fully fulfil its role as enshrined in the Charter. Further, the General Assembly should promote an atmosphere where unilateral action would no longer take place, and the International Court of Justice should be used for the peaceful settlement of disputes.
Noting that Nicaragua had been a defendant in eight major cases of the Court, as well as several minor cases, she expressed her country’s trust towards the Court and said that the Court’s efforts were key to fulfilling required commitments and upholding the equal sovereignty of States. In closing, she urged all States to recognize the Court’s jurisdiction without reservation, with the view of consolidating the rule of law at the international level.
RYSZARD SARKOWICZ (Poland) said the high-level meeting and the resulting Declaration, as well as the pledges made, summed up the preliminary stage of implementation of the commitment to the 2005 World Summit’s Outcome Document. They were also a point of departure for the further common efforts of all stakeholders to convert the rule of law into a strong, stable foundation on human relations at the national and international levels. The rule of law needed to be promoted through the United Nations as a solid foundation to achieve peace, international security, human rights and sustainable development.
He noted that the scope of rule of law activities and the number of actors involved had created challenges in their prioritization, coordination and coherence. As a first step to addressing those challenges, he called for the broad dissemination of current knowledge on the subject. In this regard, Poland would share extensively the results of the high-level meeting, including among civil society organizations, towards creating a mechanism to ensure direct commitments and meaningful engagement. Lastly, he drew the Committee’s attention to this year’s Treaty Event, at which States manifested their strong belief in the importance of the international treaty. The many States that had become parties to various treaties made the event one of the most important Treaty Events in recent years.
RAFAEL ARCHONDO ( Bolivia) said that in reaching 30 years of democratic governance this year, Bolivia had celebrated the longest run of democracy in its history. During that time, the country’s “democratic health” had improved, with a Government that was directly representative of its people. Bolivia had ratified key legal instruments and, for first time, had debated and approved the election of its officials through the use of ballot boxes. As a result, the Bolivian President was an indigenous president, representing the majority of the population, which was also indigenous. Also of note was the election of women to public office.
Rule of law within his country, he said, had been strengthened through structural changes in institutions which respected the separation of powers. In the judiciary, “interculturality” and gender had been applied as considerations, and officials were elected to justice institutions through a popular vote. Although the “winds of democracy had been blowing in Latin America”, he told the Committee, “it had not yet reached the United Nations”. Calling for Security Council reform, he said the Council had to be representative of the “emerging world” and “new dynamics in the international arena”.
ERNEST TCHILOEMBA TCHITEMB (Congo) said the recent high-level meeting had given the rule of law and resulting Declaration the same weight as other major texts adopted by General Assembly, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration on the Principles of International Law, among others. The “solemn commitment” taken by Heads of State and Government to promote an international order based on rule of law principles made the text a reference document that opened new doors for cooperation. That cooperation included both States with lengthy experience in State-building and democratic institutions, as well as States “whose youth, and up and downs of history” had not allowed them to build democratic institutions in collective mentality and the best interests of their citizens.
He went on to say that past debates on the matter, characterized by the attitudes of certain States, had assessed and focused on what had been done by States. However, it was evident that cooperation was the only way to achieve strict compliance with international law. In that regard, States were sovereign; “an equal could not have authority over an equal”. Within the Committee’s work, delegations were very perceptive of the place of law in national and international affairs and its effect on social and economic development and human rights. It was a perpetual quest, however, to observe the rule of law within each of those elements.
It took Europe centuries to arrive at centralized States, he said, and, still, the question of equality and gender equity had not been completely resolved. In Africa, 50 years after independence, constructing the rule of law was a political commitment and a social reality. In the Declaration, the rule of law had been defined as an integral part of African countries’ national strategies. The momentum unleashed by the high-level debates had opened up a new era of cooperation and technical assistance in order to assist countries with building democracy and human rights
ANNETTE ONANGA (Gabon), noting her country’s commitment to the rule of law, said that it had strengthened its democratic institutions by adopting a new Constitution, strengthening its courts for equal access by its citizens, establishing a human rights commission, and effecting mechanisms to combat corruption. Gabon had also invigorated and strengthened the independence of the judiciary through allocating resources to its institutions and providing training to its staff.
On the international level, she said her country remained deeply committed the principles of the United Nations Charter. It was respectful of the sovereign equality of States, the right to self determination of peoples, the territorial integrity of States and the principle of non-interference. In a world that was more interdependent and where technology had accelerated the exchange of ideas, movement of peoples and goods, she said that sovereignty was under pressure more than ever before, thus underscoring the central obligation of States to respect each other’s integrity.
She emphasized the intrinsic link between the rule of law and development. Any call for the rule of law must also take into account the capacities of countries, she stressed, noting that those countries in conflict or emerging from conflict merited particular attention because often those states’ need to establish budgetary priorities undermined their ambitions, even if they were committed to establishing an institutional framework based on the rule of law.
IGOR A. PANIN ( Russian Federation) said that persistent efforts to bring into common use a non-existent definition of the rule of law and unreasonably reduce it to human rights at the national level served to divide States instead of unite them. The topic of the rule of law should deal with “the realities that States were ready to accept” and aspects where consensus could be reached, instead of “abstract idealistic models”. In that context, the current session was quite important for determining ways for future work on the rule of law within the United Nations, he said, adding that the debate on the rule of law, including a possible follow-up to the high-level meeting, should be carried out exclusively within the Sixth Committee.
He went on to say that the status of potential sub-topics for future debates on the rule of law seemed to be even “vaguer”, noting that most of the topics presented in the Secretary-General’s report were “not quite suitable” to the Sixth Committee since they fell into the area of micromanagement, and unreasonably singled-out topics with too narrow content, such as birth registration, national identification and citizenship. It would seem logical, then, to focus on more general issues and on rule of law at the international level. The United Nations had established specialized formats to discuss human rights at the national level.
Noting the important role of judicial and non-judicial international mechanisms, he expressed regret that the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya had failed to investigate cases of civilian casualties as a result of NATO air strikes.
GUO XIAOMEI ( China) said that the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter needed to be upheld and universally recognized. International law must be applied in a uniform and consistent manner without double standards or selective enforcement. Further, efforts needed to continuously improve international legislations, particularly within the “non-traditional security area”, and to preserve the United Nations’ leading role in global governance and international legislative work. It was also essential that the balance between preserving peace and pursuing justice be properly handled.
She went on to say that while supporting the punishment for serious international crimes, it was necessary to ensure justice was not pursued at the expense of peace and national reconciliation. Noting that China strictly abided by the United Nations Charter, she said her country had implemented the rule of law in alignment with its socialist Government. It now had in place “a socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics”. Her Government firmly believed that sound rule of law was in line with the common aspirations of people of all countries for peace, development and cooperation.
AMINATH ABDULLA DIDI ( Maldives) pointed out that the Maldives, in 1932, was one of the first countries in South Asia to adopt a Constitution. Since then, her country had enacted six more Constitutions, as well as seven amendments. Its new Constitution, adopted in 2008, guaranteed the separation of powers, a universal bill of rights and a free media. As a nascent democracy, however, there was an urgent need to further strengthen the country’s institutions. Speaking on the Maldives’ pledges made during the high-level meeting on the rule of law, she said that foremost was the country’s commitment, in the next two years, to ratify important international instruments, including those that address organized crime, forced disappearance of persons and the rights of migrant workers.
She went on to say that Maldives was strengthening the justice sector and was formulating a comprehensive programme on crime prevention, reforming prisons and strengthening the sentencing system. Empowering women and children was also at the forefront of the national agenda, including the opening of safe houses for victims of sexual and domestic violence, as well as assisting them with legal help and other support. Her country had also decided to enact legislation on human trafficking and to develop a media campaign to protect vulnerable groups in that regard. Because those new efforts would be “overwhelming” for a small-island State like Maldives, she requested support from the United Nations and the international community.
FATIMA AKILU ( Nigeria) said her country’s return to constitutionalism and democratic governance had provided the enabling environment for enhanced observance of democratic tenets and the protection of individual rights and fundamental freedoms. The Government had demonstrated strong political will to fulfil its international obligations by domesticating relevant international instruments and recommended practices, such as its enactment of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 to promote open government; the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 and the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2011, to give impetus to the global fight against terrorism, terrorist financing and economic crimes. “We introduced far-reaching socio-economic and development programmes in order to fast-track development and improve the living conditions of our people,” she said.
She went on to say that the law-making process was now more “people-oriented” and, in particular, more sensitive to the needs of society’s disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, adding that the judiciary continued to undergo reforms aimed at strengthening its independence, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness. Strengthening the rule of law to ensure fairness at both the national and international levels implied that States must, in good faith, honour their international obligations to refrain from the threat or use of force, settle disputes through peaceful means, and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. Nigeria recognized the important role of the International Court of Justice and reaffirmed that it would abide by the judgement ruling that it cede the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon. However, she expressed concerned about the plight of Nigerians living in the peninsula and allegations of human rights abuses perpetrated against them.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) said the Committee should continue its deliberations on the rule of law to achieve a commonly shared and clear understanding of all its aspects and to address issues, such as reform of the Security Council, sanctions and the extraterritorial application of domestic laws. All States should strive to promote the rule of law in their respective countries, but it was also the sovereign right of each nation to establish its own model of the rule of law and administration of justice, and to develop an efficient and fair legal and judicial system based on its own cultural, historical and political traditions.
Recalling the Security Council’s responsibility to maintain peace and security, he said its mandate was not unlimited or above the law under any circumstances. “Making decisions, including illegal sanctions, on the basis of unauthentic information or politically motivated analysis” would undermine the credibility and reputation of the Council, damage the legitimacy of its decisions and harm the trust of Member States, he said, adding that Security Council reforms should result in it being accountable, transparent, and rule-based. Noting that international law must be respected equally by States, he said selectivity and double-standard in the application and enforcement of international treaties must be rejected since they undermined the very nature and objective of the rule of law.
ANASTASSIS MITSIALIS ( Greece) stated that his country firmly believed that the common aims of maintaining international peace and security, ensuring the realization of human rights for all, and promoting sustainable development could only be achieved through the establishment and consolidation of rule of law institutions. At the domestic level, rule of law was one of the main pillars of Greece’s legal order and consisted of accountability mechanisms, a comprehensive system of judicial remedies, and a wide range of independent authorities and national human rights institutions.
Pledges, he added, were a useful tool in setting up national priorities, and Greece had registered a voluntary pledge to prepare a National Anti-Corruption Plan, to be implemented from 2013 to 2015. The steps of the Plan included taking measures towards harmonizing national legislation with the recommendations of international organizations on fighting corruption, as well as developing and implementing specific rules and actions against corruption at the political and judicial levels.
ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) spoke of his country’s “difficult past”, characterized by decades-long conflict and strife, which had left its State institutions devastated and in shambles. Afghanistan was therefore keenly aware of both the importance of and challenges associated with consolidating the rule of law. Eleven years ago, his country began its State-building efforts, with the support of the international community. Since then, the rule of law had been at the core of restoring lasting peace and stability and enabling Afghans to take full charge of meeting their security, governance and development needs.
Speaking about those reforms, he said his country had strengthened government at both the national and sub-national levels through the promulgation of a Constitution, promoting and protecting all citizens, and a comprehensive overhaul of the national legal framework, among others. Security sector reform had led to formation of a national army and police, which were increasingly taking charge of combat operations with the aim of achieving full responsibility by the end of 2014. Defeating corruption and achieving sound transparent and efficient administration which enjoyed the trust and confidence of the Afghan people was also being pursued. The high-level meeting had underscored the importance of such national ownership of rule of law activities.
AMANUEL YOANES AJAWIN (South Sudan) called attention to the fact that South Sudan, which had attained independence last July, was the newest Member of the United Nations family. “The people of South Sudan have chosen peace and freedom instead of costly and perpetual civil war”, he said. As his country embarked on the “enormous” task of nation-building, the principle of rule of law would be the bedrock on which the country’s constitution would rest.
Speaking further about constitutional law, he said that, upon its independence, South Sudan had promulgated a transitional Constitution, which would be in force until 2015. Currently, the National Constitutional Review Commission was collecting views from all stakeholders on a future Constitution that would consider South Sudan’s diversity. Regional and bilateral treaties were also being developed, and South Sudan had become party to several important international instruments. As well, it was working to accede to all important treaties and conventions in the coming months.
He went on to say that South Sudan was also implementing training into its justice institutions, such as the prison service and police. Further, his country was committed to using the International Court of Justice and other international judicial mechanisms for peaceful dispute resolutions. He pointed out that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that had led to independence had been brokered through “such international efforts” and that South Sudan had accepted the Security Council resolution agreement to peaceful negotiations with Sudan and would continue to peacefully settle disputes. Regarding customary law, those customary practices that were harmful, particularly with regard to women, needed to be eliminated or modified.
HESSA SAQR AL MARIKHI, Legal Researcher, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar, recognizing the active participation of the international community in the recent high-level meeting, called that initiative an opportunity for States to expand their consensus on strengthening the principle of the rule of law at the institutional, procedural, and substantive levels. Her country had taken action in different sectors to promote good governance. Qatar had also made the rule of law an essential part of its national strategies and had become party to many human rights conventions.
She added that the Government was promoting the culture of rule of law at the national level by enhancing access to law enforcement mechanisms, enabling the independence of the judiciary from the legislative and executive powers, and ensuring that the State was respecting its obligations stemming from international agreements and customary international law. Further, her country had established an entity of management control and transparency, which was also empowered with full powers and the resources that would enable it to fulfil its mission. All the efforts made, she said in closing, stemmed from her country’s belief that the rule of law created a “favourable environment to achieve security and prosperity”.
ARAYA DESTA ( Eritrea), stressing the need for a balanced approach in developing the international and national dimensions of the rule of law, said his country was deeply committed to upholding and developing an international order based on the principle. Clear rules, respect for and adherence to the rules, and an effective multilateral system to prevent violations of the rules were preconditions for lasting global peace and security.
However, an effective multilateral system could only be realized, he said, if it was based on unambiguous and transparent rules that applied to all players without selectivity, polarization and double standards. The non-uniform application of the rule of law at the international level had not only left many critical issues and conflicts unresolved and unattended, but it had also given rise to the lack of confidence in the multilateral fora.
He went on to say that States must also refrain from promulgating and applying any unilateral measures that were inconsistent with international law and the United Nations Charter. Concluding, he said strengthening the rule of law must include urgent reform of various international institutions such as the Security Council and other United Nations institutions, as well as international financial institutions.
NIMROD KARIN ( Israel), welcoming a “meaningful and professional” debate on the rule of law, said that the subject was continually debated in various United Nations’ fora, but there remained “an area with much to discuss”. On a national level, pluralism and democracy were at the cornerstones of Israel’s Government. His country’s Supreme Court rulings had continued to entrench and expand the rights of criminal suspects and defendants, and enhancing due process guarantees. Evidence obtained in unlawful search, confessions made under duress and the restricting of the rights of persons suspected of security-related offences were not permissible.
Further on the topic, he said that the Supreme Court also weighed heavily on matters of civil liberties and constitutional rights including freedom of press, privatization of prisons and social security. The Supreme Court also regularly adjudicated national security matters, the most difficult cases for a judge in a democracy, reviewed parliamentary legislation, executive policy and administrative action. Citizens, non-citizens and civil society organizations could petition the Court.
Regarding international justice mechanisms, he said he respected the valuable contribution of international tribunals to the rule of law, yet underscored that the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute violations of international law rested with States. Israel, in that regard, had been involved with capacity-building and technical assistance efforts in Africa. Concluding, he expressed regret that during informal consultations on the high-level meeting’s outcome document, there has been a failure to reach consensus on the paragraphs containing the “so-called ‘building blocks’ of the rule of law”. What constituted the rule of law, he said, could not be reduced to “merely formalistic and institutional features”.
CHITSAKA CHIPAZIWA ( Zimbabwe) stressed that all States should be committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes and refrain from the threat or use of force. He expressed regret, however, that some States often resorted to unilateral action contrary to the rule of law and due process. The rule of law should apply to all States equally in a fair, just and transparent manner. Application of double standards only served to undermine the rule of law at the international level.
At the national level, he said that Zimbabwe had made significant strides in strengthening the rule of law, including establishing three independent commissions on human rights, the media and elections. Further, he said, while continually focused on working towards economic development and poverty eradication, his country was in an advanced stage of developing a people-based Constitution.
EDEN CHARLES ( Trinidad and Tobago) said the failure to adhere to the rule of law had led to disastrous consequences, at both the national and global levels. When the rule of law had been adhered to, however, Governments had found it easier to address issues relating to sustainable development, economic growth, the promotion of human rights, as well as to devise schemes tackling issues such as climate change. The rule of law was particularly timely in the midst of the global economic and financial crises, and the concerted call across the world for improved governance. States, he said, must address whatever “implementation deficit” might exist in fulfilling their domestic and international legal obligations.
Trinidad and Tobago, he went on to say, had taken steps to strengthen the rule of law, including the entrenchment of fundamental rights and freedoms in the country’s Constitution and ensuring the separation of powers of various Government organs. His country had adhered to a number of treaties and conventions which had been implemented and “given the force of law” in its domestic platforms. In closing, he reaffirmed support for the efforts of the International Criminal Court to investigate and, where there was sufficient admissible evidence, prosecute persons accused of crimes within its jurisdiction.
ERMINIO DA SILVA PINTO (Timor-Leste) said his country’s recent peaceful presidential and parliamentary elections demonstrated its progress in strengthening its electoral system. As well, efforts to increase female participation in all levels of Government had resulted in an increase of women in Parliament, who now comprised 38 per cent of that body.
He went on to say that his country had prioritized the building of strong judiciary institutions that complemented the work on police and security sector reform. Stressing the importance of partnerships, he said Timor-Leste had benefited from Australia’s Justice Sector Support program which had provided assistance to strengthen the relationships among the police, judicial and correctional systems.
On the international level, he said his country had ratified all core human rights instruments. However, he noted that, due to capacity constraints, reporting to the respective treaty bodies had been a challenge.
ALOYSIUS SELWAS TABORAT ( Indonesia) stated that the many multidimensional challenges facing the world were of such magnitude that only a global partnership based on international law could effectively address them. In that regard, partnerships between nations were the best way to ensure peace and security. The Organization’s work must truly reflect the international community’s “broad sense of justice”, including the revitalization of the General Assembly and reform of the Security Council. Additionally, the gap must be shut between commitments at the international level and implementation at the national level — something that would require enhanced capacity among Member States, particularly developing countries.
Reminding the Committee that the freedom of expression was not absolute, he urged such a freedom to be applied responsibly and in accordance international human rights law and instruments. On the national application of the rule of law, he said civil society and the media had an important role to play in complementing Government efforts to ensure accountability and transparency. Thus, all Member States, the United Nations and other international organizations, civil society and the media were called upon to help ensure effective law enforcement. He recalled that Indonesia had come a long way since its reforms in 1998. After 15 years of national improvement, his country was ready to make unremitting efforts in the maintenance and further improvement of the rule of law.
FARID JAFAROV (Azerbaijan) reaffirmed his country’s commitment to an international order based on international law and the rule of law, and said that the development of its bilateral and multilateral relations had been based and guided on that principle. The protection and promotion of human rights was a priority of Azerbaijan’s foreign and domestic policy.
He said that he shared the Secretary-General’s view that, while international law-making was sometimes necessary, the challenge lay in ensuring implementation of and compliance with the existing legal framework. Greater efforts were needed to ensure a unified approach to the rule of law and to address major threats and challenges affecting basic elements of the international legal order, such as the undermining of national unity, territorial integrity and the stability of States, as well as a disregard and contempt for human rights.
Resolute measures were needed, he stressed, to ensure strict compliance of parties to armed conflict with their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. In such situations, relevant international legal norms still applied. There was a need to end activities aimed at consolidating foreign occupation and to initiate measures to remove the adverse effects of such activities. He further noted that the Organization provided rule of law assistance in nearly 150 Member States under conditions of development, conflict and peacebuilding.
KOUSSAY ABDULJABBAR ALDAHHAK ( Syria) called the rule of law “an indivisible whole” and a goal to which all were aspiring. However, he questioned the focus on the rule of law nationally while the international aspect was being ignored. In that regard, he called for several international trends to be examined. Among those were the attitudes of some States to impose their policies and unilateral decisions on others, including through the use of force and “politicizing values”. The rule of law could not be attained when States were threatening the stability of others and interfering in their internal affairs.
Turning to the situation in the Syria and surrounding region, he said the Israeli occupation of Syrian Golan and other Arab territories was in violation of international law. Similarly, support, financially and through arms supply, that had been given by some Arab States to extremists, including to those in Syria, violated the rule of law. Recalling the effect of sanctions in Syria, he said unilateral sanctions harmed Syrians and deprived them of essential things, such as medicine and fuel for their homes, among others.
Further addressing the gravity of the situation in Syria, he said his country was undergoing a situation it never could have imagined, which had begun with calls for legal reforms. The Government had attempted to implement those reforms, including, by means of referendum, a new Constitution. Preparatory work had been taken toward that end through a national dialogue, but external parties had exploited the situation and had destabilized the country. Authorities in northern Syria were calling for the return to stability and would continue hold those violating the law accountable. Dialogue was the only way to break out of this type of situation. He called upon States that were offering a haven to terrorists, arming and financing them, to stop. All influential parties, he stressed, must refuse violence and engage in a national dialogue.
FARID DAHMANE ( Algeria) said revitalizing the work of the General Assembly and preventing the Security Council from encroaching on that body’s powers should take greater importance among Member States’ priorities. The Security Council should also expand its membership to include developing countries and to reflect Africa in its group of Permanent Members. As well, the role of the International Court of Justice needed to be reinforced, as it was the main judicial organ of the United Nations and the only one characterized by universality and inclusiveness. He expressed regret at the failure to complete the implementation of the right to self-determination of people under foreign occupation and those that had not been decolonized, which especially applied to the “question of Palestine and Western Sahara”.
Concerning the rule of law domestically, he said his country continued to forge ahead to deepen the roots of democracy. It had experienced concrete advancement in the political, social and economic sectors and had achieved its Millennium Development Goals “in general” prior to the 2015 target date. Algeria had also undertaken institutional reform and reconsideration of party and electoral law. Its most recent legislative elections in May of this year resulted in women taking one-third of the legislative seats. He said his country was continuing to ascertain the conformity of its domestic laws with international treaties.
Right of Reply
In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Chile, referring to the statement by the representative of Bolivia, said he was in full agreement with respect to compliance with international instruments and conventions on the peaceful settlement of disputes. He reiterated that respect for the borders of neighbouring countries was essential for peaceful co-existence and guaranteed international peace and security. However, he did not agree with the “distorted rendition of historic events” that occurred more than a hundred years ago.
The representative of Morocco, exercising his right of reply, in response to the reference to bilateral disagreements in the Sahara made by Algeria’s delegate, stated that in the context of the debate on the rule of law, the representative of Algeria had confused the Sahara which should be in the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), Room 1, and not Room 2 which was the Sixth Committee (Legal). He said the representative of Algeria associated the Palestinian question with their bilateral dispute on the Moroccan Sahara. He would not dwell on what Palestine meant to Morocco and what Morocco had done to that noble cause.
He went on to say that his Algerian colleague had made a foil of the Palestinian question to serve the narrow politicized objects of Algeria. He regretted to note that Algeria had broken the record on double standard by multiplying its inconsistencies, by pretending to bear the standard of self determination and only in the context of Moroccan Sahara. Noting that he had been here for more than five years, he said he had never heard Algeria talk about self-determination except in regards to their dispute. Different delegations had presented views on the rule of law, their progress, challenges and commitments, while Algeria had been the exception. Instead, he pointed out that “they decided to talk about external things […] with their goal being to divert people from their own poor human rights record.” He said participants to the debate had witnessed that he had participated in this debate in a constructive way and had avoided claims and preferred preferring dialogue.
The representative of Algeria, exercising his right of reply, said the paragraphs or passages that were called into question by the representative of Morocco, focused on the fact that Algeria deplored that the sacrosanct principle of international law of self-determination was not being applied in some cases, specifically, the question of Palestine and Western Sahara. He said that, based on what he had just heard, it appeared that the representative of Morocco perhaps had been a little “vexed” by the association with those two questions. He recalled that all texts and paragraphs of the Non-Aligned Movement and Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the principle of self determination put those two examples in the same sentence. Therefore, he said his country’s statement was based on a precedent already established in other international text.
Concerning Item 83 on the rule of law, he said the Committee was talking about two issues at national and international level and one was compelled to observe that the principle of self determination in some cases came under the rubric of rule of law at the international level. Based on that assumption, his delegation’s discourse was entirely appropriate. Secondly, he said he heard talk about a bilateral dispute between Morocco and Algeria, a reality admitted in the existing forum. He said his delegation did not depart from requirements and that in speaking of an “artificial” dispute between Algeria and Morocco would be to deny reality at a “psychotic level”.
Exercising his second right of reply, the representative of Morocco said that the representative of Algeria was talking about respect for human rights and rule of law. He asked the delegates to “Google” that subject for clarity on the matter. On the Palestinian question and the bilateral dispute on Moroccan Sahara, he said that the Algerian representative’s statements in that context were not convincing and would convince no one. It did not get Algeria out of its responsibility. He said he hoped that one day they would turn the page and together build a more promising future for their people.
The representative of Algeria, exercising his second right of reply, said that on human rights, the representative of Morocco wanted to deal with the subject in a limited way. In discussing Algeria, he always thought human rights were a component that should not be forgotten. All peacekeeping missions had a human rights component. The only one without it was the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), which had been resisted by Morocco.
FATHALLA ALJADEY ( Libya), declaring his country’s abidance to international law, described national measures taken since the fall of the Libyan regime. To guarantee justice within the interim system, Libya had a policy that put an end to arbitrary arrests, and that referred those arrested to the judiciary within 60 days. As well, a State institution had been established to document human rights violations and related facts, which would then be reported to specialized agencies. Compensating victims and brokering reconciliation was also a national priority. A national commission for fact-finding, among other important tasks, was studying and examining cases of violence and forced disappearance, as well as uncovering the fate of those who had disappeared.
Further on national reforms, he said the National Council for Human Rights and Public Freedoms had been instated as an independent body to investigate human rights violations and to refer them to the judiciary. A new law had also been instituted in regard to amnesty for some crimes. New systems covered compensation of public funds and reconciliation processes, under which perpetrators had to declare their regrets in front of a specialized panel. To reinstate citizens’ trust in State institutions, processes were in place to ensure perpetrators did not hold positions in Government. Seeking to “rise from the rubble”, he said in closing, Libya was following the framework in the Charter, as set forth by international community.
ARLINE DIAZ MENDOZA ( Venezuela) said the rule of law had to be framed by fair international order based on solidarity. International law was one of the sources of domestic legislation. Venezuela ensured that international treaties, conventions and covenants enjoyed constitutional rank and prevailed in the internal order. With regard to international human rights norms, those were as important as constitutional norms. Under President Hugo Chavez, she said, such rights were made daily and universal.
The legal order that had resulted from her country’s revolution favoured consultation with the people, she noted. However, the functioning of the United Nations continued to prevent the true prevalence of rule of law. Additionally, she rejected the coercive, unilateral and illegal measures imposed by some imperial powers over other nations. By making the United Nations more democratic and “refounding” it, it could be possible for international law to be applied in an equitable and transparent manner. Such a democratic transformation would begin with the Security Council.
PARAISO SOULEYMANE MOUSSA ( Niger) said that, like many countries, Niger attached great importance to the rule of law at the national and international levels. However, a genuine rule of law could only prevail with the human means, and economic and other resources to make it happen. Since democracy had returned to Niger in 1990, the country had worked in the spirit of the rule of law.
He noted that Niger had acceded to the statute of the International Criminal Court and major legal instruments on human rights. In 2011, Niger had created an authority against corruption and associated crimes, adopted a decree advancing the freedom of expression and had signed the Tabletop Mountain Declaration on freedom of the media in South Africa, to which Niger was the first African signatory.
He went on to say that his country’s Government had also set up a bureau to advance the justice system, as well as a line for citizens’ complaints and “whistles” related to its justice sector. New legal instruments and those to which his country had become a signatory related to the rights of women, access to education and ensuring healthcare, particularly for women and young children.
PATRICIO TROYA ( Ecuador) said his country viewed the rule of law as a pillar of good governance and peaceful coexistence between citizens and nations, adding that Ecuador was a signatory to all universal instruments and conventions on human rights. In regards to the Security Council, he said it was crucial to reform the Council, noting that it maintained a “moribund structure based on the reality of half a century ago”. He reiterated his country’s call to the international community to conclude that matter, stressing that the Council did not reflect “new players in the international arena” and needed to be a more democratic and transparent.
He went on to say that respect for the sovereignty of States was irreplaceable and a fundamental pillar of rule of law. In that regard, his country vigorously rejected any extraterritorial application of national laws and viewed it an aberration and a serious violation of the rule of law at the international level. Turning to domestic matters, he said his country recognized that the same rights and obligations must be upheld for all its citizens. Also, it viewed gender equity and employment of women as essential conditions to ensure the prevalence of the rule of law. In that regard, he noted that 40 per cent of magistrates in the courts of justice were women.
His Government, he continued, had, through earmarked resources, also paid special importance to strengthening the judiciary, with the training of civil servants, the renewal and supply of appropriate technology, and greater inter-institutional and international cooperation. Concluding, he said he trusted fully in the efforts of the Sixth Committee, whose role on the subject of the rule of law should not be replaced by any high-level committee, or groups of experts or any other fora outside the General Assembly.
PALITHA KOHONA ( Sri Lanka) said it was important to respect the diverse roots of the rule of law, from the code of Manu to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as advancement in the area was pursued, notably in the sectors of sustainable development and the protection and empowerment of minorities. The legal system of his country had evolved to accommodate its diverse population, with each ethnic group governed by its own personal laws. Having emerged from a decades-long conflict with a terrorist group that challenged such treasured democratic institutions, the strengthening of rule of law institutions through a domestic process was highly valued. He stressed that judgemental international interventions might be counterproductive in such situations.
At the international level, he said, many parts of the United Nations must play a role in strengthening the rule of law while duplications must be avoided. The principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in domestic affairs, intrinsic to the international rule of law, must be respected, especially in situations that did not pose a threat to international peace and security. Specific circumstances, however, might call for international involvement based on the agreement of all States and the application of international law in a non-selective manner. The codification of international law was important in that light, with over 550 multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary-General, and the United Nations had an important role to play in assisting States with capacity-building to enable them to comply with their treaty obligations.
In addition, he said, long-term solutions to terrorism, piracy and other trans-national crimes required delivery of basic services by justice and security institutions, as well as tackling relevant economic and social factors. The application of law was also important in environmental protection, economic advancement and social order, he added, noting that this year marked the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and the twentieth anniversary of the Rio Declaration.
YOUSEF N. ZEIDAN, from the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, recalled that in the last session his delegation had come before the Committee and reported on progress made in the rule of law at the national level. At the same time, it had warned the Committee of the curtailment of progress to that work if Israel, the occupying power, continued to act with impunity and prolong its 45-year foreign military occupation of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. It had also warned about the State and settler terrorism against the Palestinian civilian population and their livelihoods in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and about the illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, as well as the rapid expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements, now consisting of over 550,000 settlers transferred by Israel to the occupied territories.
He went on to say that this year alone, Palestine had experienced over 60 terrorist attacks by Israeli settler terrorists, who burned and desecrated churches and mosques. Such terrorism also continued to destroy thousands of olive trees throughout the territory. Moreover, the transfer by the occupying power of its own population into the territory represented a clear and continuous violation of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, as codified by the relevant article of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and defined as a war crime by the Rome Statute. “We also remind members of the Committee of the responsibilities of third States in line with international humanitarian law”, he added.
Unfortunately, he said, because of the continued impunity enjoyed by Israel, especially in the Security Council, it had yet to comply with the demands of the international community to end the occupation. Those demands were most evident in the annual resolutions of the General Assembly on the Question of Palestine, which, he pointed out, enjoyed an overwhelming majority. He also recalled that, in September 2011, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had submitted an application for the State of Palestine for the United Nations membership. It had now been over a year and the Security Council had yet to recommend membership to the General Assembly. In that regard, he called on the Council to make that positive recommendation in line with the 1948 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice.
PATRIZIO CIVILI, Permanent Observer of the International Development Law Organization, said his organization saw the rule of law as having both intrinsic and instrumental value. Having analyzed not only overall trends, but also country priorities and requests for services, he proposed to recast the programmes to focus on a small number of specific policy goals. It was vital to build confidence in the justice sector by assisting in constitution-making and legal reform and essential to responding to countries’ demand for support in their efforts to enhance the integrity and quality of the work of the justice sector, transparency and accountability of governance institutions.
He went on to say that it was also important to enhance access to justice and serve as an enabler in empowering people, with a focus on promoting gender equality, the development of legal services to empower poor and marginalized communities, and the use of the law to advance the right to health. In addition, he urged the Committee to promote innovative legal approaches to support sustainable development and expand economic opportunities such as contributing to legal preparedness to supporting legal capacity development.
The International Development Law Organization’s programme had further expanded and there were clear and strong indications that, within the new strategic plan, demand for programmes would continue to grow, one that obviously emanated in good measure from countries emerging from conflict. He hoped services would also extend to other developing countries across all regions, and cover the whole spectrum, from constitutional and judicial reform to legal capacity building geared to supporting trade, investment and sustainable development.
KAREN MOSOTI, Head of the Liaison Office, International Criminal Court, said she was encouraged by the pledges made at the high-level meeting, which had acknowledged and recognized the central role played by the International Criminal Court in promoting the rule of law. Many States recalled similar pledges made during the 2010 International Criminal Court Review Conference in Kampala, which included incorporating the Rome Statute crimes into national legislation, ratifying Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute relating to the crimes of aggression and war crimes, and making voluntary contributions to the Court’s trust fund, among others. The Court was also grateful to the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group and related Unit, particularly their continued interaction and exchange of views with the Court in formulating policies and implementing rule of law programmes.
The Court’s contribution to the rule of law, she said, was demonstrated by its current case portfolio, comprising seven investigations and eight preliminary examinations from different regions of the world. In the past year, Thomas Lubanga, a war lord notorious for recruiting and using child soldiers, was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison and the Court issued a decision establishing reparations for victims. The number of State parties to the Rome Statute had also increased from 115 to 121. In July of this year, the Government of Mali requested that the Court Prosecutor open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by rebels in the north of the country. Preliminary examinations were being carried out in Mali as well as Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Honduras, Nigeria, Republic of Korea and Guinea.
She went on to say that the Rome Statute established the nexus between the International Criminal Court and national justice systems. However, in many countries, especially those transitioning from conflict, capacity to prosecute those crimes was weak. Concerted international effort was needed to assist those countries and the Court would continue to engage in that regard. In conclusion, she called for the sustained cooperation and support of all States to maximize the effectiveness of the Court. Of the 17 individuals subject to arrest warrants, 11 remained at large, including two cases referred by the Security Council.
JOY ELYAHOU, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), stated that while there was a wide range of national experience in the rule-of-law area, all States also shared common international norms and standards, including international humanitarian law. From its work in armed conflict, the ICRC was convinced that clear domestic legal frameworks that were known by competent authorities and consistent with international law could, when properly implemented, save lives and reduce suffering.
Fully sharing the Sixth Committee’s view that all parties interested in strengthening the rule of law should work together on enhancing national capacity and ownership, she said the ICRC supported all efforts to facilitate the exchanges of good practices and the formulation of common policies and approaches. It was also engaged in helping to develop technical expertise and promoting national capacity-building, contributing in areas as diverse as prison reform, strengthening judiciaries and developing university programmes. In conclusion, she pointed out that the participation of national Red Cross and the Red Crescent societies provided the twofold advantage of relevant local and national knowledge, as well as information about global trends.
Right of Reply
In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Israel said it was most unfortunate that the same delegations — some of the world’s worst human rights violators — were exploiting “this forum”, calling it a “political sideshow”. Syria was a prime State-sponsor of terrorism whose proxies had murdered tens of thousands in the Middle East and elsewhere. As to the representative of Saudi Arabia, people were beheaded for sorcery in that country, as well as stoned. Further, some had their limbs executed as punishment. Women were denied basic rights, with the right to vote only extended to municipal elections. “Maybe one day they could drive to the voting booth,” she said. The rule of law in a democracy was governed by law and subject to law. In his country, she said, rulers appeared above the law and not subject to it.
Turning to Kuwait, she said that country had no rule of law, and had expelled 3,000 Palestinians living and working there. Turning next to the Permanent Observer of the Mission of Palestine, she said that for every claim raised, she could provide compelling arguments to the contrary. Countless Israelis were also victims of “our conflict”, a fact that the Palestinian Authority refused to acknowledge. The Palestinian representative had failed to mention any human rights abuses by the security apparatus in the West Bank, let alone the widespread human rights abuses in Gaza. Israel was a vibrant democracy, she reminded the Committee, and committed to upholding rule of law even for its cruellest enemies — the terrorists who had disregarded rules and principles.
Exercising his right of reply, Kuwait’s delegate said that Israel had violated international law by threatening peace and security in the Middle East and its continued policy of settlement. That was a continuation of the same Israeli policy to change the geographic sites, “Judiacization” of the West Bank, and a violation of United Nations resolutions and international law.
The observer for Palestine, in exercise of the right of reply, said “the occupying Power seemed to be living in another world”. Israel was practicing “apartheid”. While she had cited particular laws in her country, they practiced terrorism against others, treating “Jews differently from non-Jews”. “Why were they called Jewish settlements?” he asked. The representative of the occupying power seemed to have “short-term memory loss”, referring to recent killings by the Israeli undercover police. “Maybe she could tell us a little bit more about the exodus of the Palestinian people,” he continued, recalling the 800,000 Palestinians who had been removed from their homes and couldn’t return. He also recalled the “45 years of occupation” and the stance of the International Court of Justice on that matter.
Also in exercise of the right of reply, Syria’s delegate said the violations by Israel since it was established were registered in records of the Organization. “We all remembered those violations”, he said, described in international reports as crimes of war and crimes against humanity, and replete with massacres against Arabs. As well, the occupation of the Syrian Golan continued. Israel practiced State terrorism and had used passports of other countries, such as the United States and Europe. Israel, in fact, had not only committed violations against human rights, but had desecrated religious Christian and Muslim sites in the Occupied Territory. It continued its blockade against Gaza and he questioned how the representative of Israel could talk about women and children. “It was an irony to sit here and listen to lectures on the rule of law by a representative whose country knows only the rule of the jungle”, he said.
Introduction of Reports
GAREN NAZARIAN (Armenia), introducing the report on the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization, said that Chapter II of the report contained several items to be considered by the Committee. Those items included assisting third States affected by sanctions, as well as the working papers and proposals from Libya, Venezuela, Belarus and the Russian Federation, and Cuba. In Chapter III, discussions concerning the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes and the corresponding draft resolution were also for the Committee’s consideration. Other chapters addressed the Repertory and Repertoire, as well as the Special Committee’s working methods.
VACLAV MIKULKA, Director of the Codification Division on the Status of the Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs, noted significant progress had been achieved in the preparation of studies on some of the supplements in backlog and studies. From among the 50 volumes of which the publication should consist, 42 volumes had been completed, 28 had been published and 14 had been finalized and submitted for translation and publication. Those 42 volumes were available on the United Nations website for the repertory. The electronic version of the document included a full-text search feature, providing users with opportunity to search all studies simultaneously in English, French and Spanish.
Cooperation with the Columbia University Law School continued for the ninth consecutive year, he said. Further cooperation had also been extended to the Fordham University School of Law and Concord Law School. Regarding the trust fund for the publication, Chile and Finland had made contributions, which were used to hire consultants. The current balance in the trust fund was about $20,000, which would be used to hire more consultants for the preparation of studies pertaining to volumes that were near complete.
GREGOR BOVENTER, Chief of the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch of the Department of Political Affairs, regarding the status of the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, recalled that several supplements had been prepared to expedite coverage of the contemporary practice and procedure of the Security Council. Progress had been achieved due mostly to “efficiency-enhancing” initiatives. Future progress, however, would depend on the availability of resources. The Repertoire was now available in all official languages on the Security Council website. Contributions had been made to the publication’s trust fund, for which he was grateful, by China, Ireland, Mexico and Turkey. Nevertheless, he said, it would require a heavy workload to regularly publish the documents and to prevent further backlogs.
Statements on Charter Committee Report
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization should play a key role in the Organization’s reform. Important elements in the reform process were the democratization of the Organization’s principal organs and respect for the General Assembly’s role and authority, including in questions of international peace and security. He reiterated concerns over the continuing encroachment by the Security Council on the functions and powers of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.
Reforms should be carried out in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, preserving its legal framework, he said. Further, the Special Committee should continue to study the legal nature of implementing Chapter IV of the Charter, particularly relevant articles that dealt with the functions and powers of the General Assembly. Security Council-imposed sanctions also remained an issue of serious concern. The imposition of sanctions should be a last resort, only used when there was a threat to international peace and security or an act of aggression, according to the Charter. They were not applicable as a preventive measure in other instances of violation of international law, norms or standards.
Sanctions use raised ethical questions of whether inflicting suffering on vulnerable groups in the target country was a legitimate means of exerting political pressure, he said, adding that sanctions were not meant to punish or exact retribution on the populace. Sanctions regimes must be clearly defined, based on legal grounds and lifted as soon as objectives were achieved. Noting the upcoming thirtieth anniversary of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes, he pointed out that the Declaration marked the first time a normative text had developed a comprehensive plan and consolidated a legal framework for the peaceful settlement of international disputes.
IBRAHIM SALEM (Egypt), speaking for the African Group, stressed that the power of the Security Council to impose sanctions should be exercised in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law. Sanctions should be considered only after all means of peaceful settlement of disputes had been fully exhausted. Furthermore, sanctions should be imposed for a precise time frame, reviewed periodically and be lifted as soon as the objectives were achieved. Sanctions should also be non-selective and targeted to mitigate their humanitarian effects.
He went on to express interest in the revised proposal submitted by Libya, which addressed strengthening the role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security. In regards to the identification of new subjects, he emphasized the right of all Member States to present relevant new proposals. Not allowing the Committee to consider such proposals, while at the same time criticizing it for a lack of results, was a paradox. In addition, he noted the important role played by judicial mechanisms, inter alia the International Court of Justice, and he urged Member States to make the most effective use of existing procedures for the prevention and the peaceful settlement of their disputes.
This year, he said in conclusion, marked the thirtieth anniversary of the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes. Pointing out that it had been initiated by several African Member States, he highlighted the importance of that Declaration as a concrete accomplishment of the Special Committee.
JOSÉ ANTONIO GONZALEZ ( Chile), speaking for the Community of Latin-American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and reiterating the importance of the obligation to settle disputes by peaceful means, said sanctions must be imposed and applied in conformity with the United Nations Charter and with other relevant norms of international law, in particular, those related to human rights.
In addition, he said that it was also necessary to consider the question of the application of the Charter’s provisions on the assistance to third States affected by the sanctions under Chapter VII, and the proposals made. The fact that no State had requested that kind of assistance did not entail that the issue should be discontinued from the Special Committee’s agenda, as it was one of a preventive nature. The Group had noted that the Security Council, in most of the cases, had decided to adopt exceptions by which States could request an authorization of access to frozen funds for a variety of basic and extraordinary expenses.
He went on to say he appreciated the progress made in the last years regarding the backlog of the Repertory, and he encouraged the increase in efforts towards ending the existing gap. The challenge before the Member States, he said in closing, was to reinvigorate the work of the Special Committee and enable it to exercise its mandate as an efficient body.
ROLAND TRICOT, First Counsellor, Delegation of the European Union, spoke of the importance of sanctions for the maintenance and restoration of international peace and security. The Security Council’s practice, in recent years, demonstrated that sanctions could be designed in a targeted way to minimize the possibility of adverse consequences for civilians and third parties. He recalled that in the Secretary-General’s report on the matter no action had been taken this year that related to assisting third States affected by sanctions and no appeals had arisen since 2003 related to relief for economic problems. In light of those findings, the topic was no longer relevant and should be removed from the Special Committee’s agenda.
On working methods of the Special Committee, he urged reform, particularly towards engaging a better use of resources and meetings. Reform could be accomplished by reviewing existing agenda items, as far as their usefulness, relevance and likelihood of consensus were concerned, before examining proposals for new items. The methods might also be improved by examining the duration and frequency of sessions. As concerns the Repertory and Repertoire, he said in closing, the Secretary-General should continue his efforts towards updating the two publications and making them available electronically in all languages.
EDUARDO JOSE ATIENZA DE VEGA (Philippines) said that since its creation by the General Assembly in 1975, the Special Committee had assisted Member States in making the Organization function more effectively and he praised the excellent working papers submitted on the relevant topics by the Committee, saying they not only enriched the Special Committee’s work, but also attested to its strengths and value.
Noting that the question of the peaceful settlement of disputes between States was included in the current mandate, he noted that the Special Committee had discussed his country’s proposal to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes. The Philippine Mission was organizing a panel to discuss the continuing relevance of the Manila Declaration to be held at Fordham University School of Law in October of this year. Describing the Manila Declaration as one of the most significant achievements of the Special Committee, he pointed out that it was the first important instrument of the work of the Special Committee.
In that regard, he expressed the hope that the Sixth Committee would find it fitting to commemorate that achievement as well as endorse the recommendation for the plenary of the General Assembly to adopt the commemorative draft resolution contained in the report of the Special Committee. In formally tabling the draft resolution on behalf of the Bureau, the Philippines was grateful for the support it received from Member States to the crafting of the draft resolution, he added.
KIM SAENG (Republic of Korea) said that the mandate and role of the Special Committee should be rearranged so that any duplication with other United Nations organs or forums could be prevented, thereby greatly raising its efficiency. He also expressed concern that the sessions, thus far, had not been fully or efficiently used, but instead were “consumed by many repetitive and even dormant issues”. As such, adjusting the duration of the Committee session to meeting once every two years was an idea worth discussing. Introducing thematic debates instead of discussing broad and wide-ranging issues in an unfocused and non-targeted manner was also an option to consider.
CARLA TERESA ARIAS OROZCO ( El Salvador) said the United Nations Charter was not just an ordinary international agreement — it was the framework for all international activities and the founding and guiding document of the United Nations. Thus, it was essential to endorse all action geared towards preventing conflict among States.
Regarding the peaceful settlement of disputes, she said it was important to comply with the relevant Charter Article and to resolve conflicts through peaceful means, such as negotiation and arbitration. The Manila Declaration was the first text that holistically addressed peaceful settlement, and should be a priority for the Special Committee, as should a “deep-seated review of working methods”. In closing, she urged that such a review should address timeliness, strengthening of the Special Committee’s agenda and considering topics which had been addressed “for a long time”, but had not, to date, yielded results.
REN XIAOXIA ( China) expressing support for its efforts, said that the Special Committee should give priority to consideration of the application of sanctions. In her view, the Security Council should continue to exert caution in applying such measures, avoiding negative impact on third States and civilians and ensuring that sanctions were applied in compliance with the United Nations Charter and relevant norms of international law.
Her country was open to new proposals to the Special Committee, she said. However, any new proposal must be in line with the function of the Committee, as stipulated in relevant Assembly resolutions. New approaches and new methods should, she said, be explored by the Committee, adding that she hoped that Member States could reach agreement on efficiency measures in a spirit of pragmatism and consensus.
She also said she hoped that the Secretariat would continue its work in updating the Repertory of the Practice of United Nations Organs, as well as the Security Council’s Repertoire of Practice. She pledged her country’s continued support for the work of the Special Committee in safeguarding the authority of the Charter and maintaining international peace and security.
VISHNU DUTT SHARMA ( India) said that the work of the Special Committee was important and the proposals on its agenda merited in-depth consideration. On sanctions, he stressed that such measures, while an important tool for the maintenance of peace and security, should be used only as a last resort and in accordance with the provisions of the Charter. He also underscored the information in the report on the Security Council’s exceptions on decisions to freeze assets, and noted with satisfaction that the shift from comprehensive to targeted sanctions had reduced the incidence of unintended harm to third States.
The proposal to study the functional relations between the organs and issue related to reform of the Organization was useful, he said, as the reform process was of great significance, including democratization and expansion of the Security Council. Finally, he supported the continued existence of the topic “Peaceful Settlement of Disputes between States” on the agenda of the Special Committee and welcomed all efforts of the Secretary-General toward the publication and updating of the Repertory of Practice of the United Nations Organs and the Repertoire of Practice of the Security Council.
Nour Zarrouk Boumiza ( Tunisia) stressed that reform of the United Nations was no longer a choice and that the Special Committee should play a primary role in that endeavour. In keeping with the goals and principles of the United Nations Charter, there was a need for a “deep democratization” of the Security Council to ensure transparency and inclusiveness in its work.
Further, she said, the General Assembly should respond more rapidly and effectively to questions of peace and international security. She also stated that sanctions should be applied as a last possible resort. They should not target civilian populations and should be mindful of the interests of neighbouring States.
Concerning the peaceful settlement of disputes, she expressed support for the recommendation by the Special Committee on the Manila Declaration, of which her country was a sponsor. Concluding, she said the Committee in its work was not progressing in the most desirable way, adding that it should have a thematic agenda which would incorporate new topics and pressing concerns.
HASSAN ALI HASSAN ALI ( Sudan) said the United Nations could achieve its purpose and principles and enforce its role if it worked with all Member States in a democratic way and under the principles of sovereignty and equality. The General Assembly could, as agreed to in the outcome document of 2005, play an advanced role in maintaining international peace and security. As well, regional organizations should participate, in that regard, he said, noting that the African Union had made contributions to various African countries, including his own.
On United Nations reform, he said the Security Council, in its composition, was outdated and that it was “high time” it made changes to further its role in the maintenance of peace and security. It could not be a “tool in the hands of some countries”. He also expressed concerns about the application of sanctions and, in particular, “quick use” of Chapter VII of the Charter during the past 20 years. Sanctions should be applied line with international law and used as a last resort after all pacific means had been exhausted, as called for by the Charter. They should not be a “political tool” used by some in a manner of “double standards”. In that regard, papers and proposals submitted by Member States on the topic should be considered.
OLEKSANDR PAVLICHENKO (Ukraine) welcomed efforts to reduce the backlog in preparation of the Repertory and the Repertoire. He called on Member States that had not yet done so to make their voluntary contributions to the trust fund for the elimination of the backlog in the Repertory and the Repertoire. Turning to the thirtieth anniversary of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes, he welcomed the Philippines proposal and supported the draft resolution by the Special Committee in that regard. The Declaration remained relevant and demonstrated the potential and significance of the Special Committee, he stated.
On the implementation of the Charter provisions regarding assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions, he said that as no sanctions committee had been approached since 2003, and that neither the General Assembly nor the Economic and Social Council had found it necessary to take action on the matter in 2011, that it was not a matter of priority for the Special Committee. However, the item should remain on the agenda of the Special Committee.
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