|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)
Rule of Law Cornerstone of Peaceful International Dispute Settlements,
Says Deputy Secretary-General as Debate on Principle Begins
Delegates Conclude Consideration of Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism
There could be no peaceful settlement of disputes without the observance of the rule of law at the international and national levels, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the Sixth Committee as deliberations on the subject began.
Reminding delegates that the United Nations was born of a determination “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”, Mr. Eliasson asked them to remember to take measures collectively to prevent and remove threats to peace, as stated in the United Nations Charter.
The cornerstone of peaceful settlement of international disputes is observing the rule of law, he stated, recalling the 2012 high-level meeting’s Declaration that had been adopted unanimously by all Member States which welcomed a stronger link between the rule of law and the United Nations’ three pillars: peace and security; human rights; and sustainable development.
However, Cuba’s representative, concerned by attempts to politicize the rule of law, said any unilateral act or measure by a State must be unequivocally rejected. A true rule of law had to start with a reformed United Nations that could uphold standards of transparency and democracy.
Similarly, Iran’s delegate, speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, pointed out that unilateral measures negatively impacted both the engagement of the principle and international relations. Furthermore, stressing the importance of national ownership of rule-of-law activities, he said that domestic implementation of international obligations required technical assistance and capacity-building without the imposition of pre-established models.
Concurring, Guatemala’s representative said the main function of the United Nations was not to create international machinery that replaced national structures, but to create national capacities in the realm of justice, a sentiment echoed by other delegations.
Imposing a “one-size-fits-all” model could not be conducive to creating democracy, implementing the rule of law, or peacefully settling disputes, noted several speakers, with New Zealand’s representative suggesting that alternative means could also be effective in dispute settlement. There, too, Nicaragua’s representative noted that because no one model of democracy could be defined, respect of sovereignty and national decisions must always be considered.
In that regard, the creation of laws at the national level was exclusively the domain of the national legislature, said India’s representative. Although the rule of law was a fundamental concept to be fully observed in the creation and implementation of law, there was no established definition of the term. Still, Maldives’ representative urged delegations that: “As a community of nations, [we] have a solemn duty to come together in agreeing to one definition as to what constitutes the rule of law.”
Concluding the debate on measures to combat international terrorism were representatives of Myanmar, Israel, Mongolia, Lebanon, Monaco, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Rwanda, Montenegro, Mauritania and Indonesia.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply on that issue was a representative of Iran.
On the rule of law, delegates from Cuba (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (on behalf of Association of South-East Asian Nations), Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic Countries), Switzerland, Zambia, Mexico, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Japan, South Africa, Malaysia, Turkey, Qatar, United Republic of Tanzania, Australia, Pakistan, Chile, Republic of Korea, Serbia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Slovenia, Viet Nam, Estonia, Tunisia, Philippines and Costa Rica also spoke.
Also speaking on the rule of law was a representative of the Delegation of the European Union.
The Sixth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 10 October, to conclude its deliberations on the rule of law.
The Committee met today to conclude its debate on measures to eliminate terrorism (for background see Press Release GA/L/3453). It would then begin consideration of the Secretary-General’s annual report on Strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities (document A/68/213).
Statements on Measures to Eliminate Terrorism
U HAN THEIN KYAW ( Myanmar) said his country had upheld its obligations under Security Council resolutions and global counter-terrorism instruments, and had cooperated with relevant United Nations bodies. Calling for its early conclusion, he stated that the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, once finalized, would strengthen international cooperation. Measures to combat terrorism should be in line with the United Nations Charter, and respect the rule of law. For its part, Myanmar was a party to 11 global counter-terrorism instruments and, at the regional level, had signed the 2007 Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Convention on Counter-Terrorism Act. On a national level, laws and rules on money laundering had been in place for a decade. More recently, enhanced efforts were being stepped up to encourage interfaith dialogues across the country, with a view to promoting understanding.
AMIT HEUMANN ( Israel) noted that, along with other unresolved issues on terrorism, the international community had yet to devise effective mechanisms to prevent suicide attacks. Israelis had been the target of terror attacks for years, both at home and abroad. Such attacks, particularly those perpetrated by Hezbollah, were part of a global terrorist campaign aimed at Israeli and Western targets. Iran and its Quds Force were behind such attacks, from Cyprus to Thailand, and from Kenya to Nigeria. He expressed concern that Syria’s weapons of mass destruction might fall into the hands of terrorist groups like Hezbollah. The Security Council had made repeated calls for States to prevent the financing of terrorists and their organizations, including those claiming to have charitable, social or cultural goals. Noting that Israel was party to the core universal instruments on counter-terrorism, he reiterated its support for the Global Strategy.
OD OCH ( Mongolia) said a joint organized response by the international community and a comprehensive legal framework were essential in combating terrorism. The convening of a high-level conference under the auspices of the United Nations would enable constructive discussion towards that end. Such measures, however, might not be successful without sustainable development, and when conditions remained conducive to terrorism. He stressed the importance of relevant education as provided for by the General Assembly’s resolution on Education for Democracy Resolution.
CAROLINE ZIADE ( Lebanon) said that the agreement in the international community on the serious threat of terrorism had not led to it having a unified definition. Stressing the difference between terrorism and the legitimate struggle for liberation, she cited as an historical example the many liberation movements in Europe working against the Nazis during the Second World War.
She said that on a national level, Lebanon had fought and continued to fight terrorist groups. The country had suffered and was still suffering from Israeli war crimes over decades, particularly Israel’s bombing of civilian installations including, among others, the United Nations headquarters in Cana, which had been sheltering women and children. She expressed hope that the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy would be reflected in a universal comprehensive anti-terrorism convention.
CHRISTOPHE GONZALES ( Monaco) said terrorism should not be confused with any religion or nation because all nations had been targeted by terrorism. Thus, a universal response was required. The adoption of a comprehensive convention against terrorism would be a decisive step forward in that regard. The United Nations must spearhead such a comprehensive strategy. Its role, also crucial in the capacity-building of States in fighting and preventing terrorism, must contribute to adaptive and lasting solutions.
She said her country’s domestic law addressed terrorism financing. Noting that Monaco would host the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) conference in 2014 and was a participant to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) programmes, she said counter-terrorism strategies must always adapt, but must always comply, with international law and international humanitarian law.
JEAN SEBASTIEN MWAMBA TSIBANGU ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) expressed his condolences to the people of Kenya, following the recent attacks in Nairobi. Terrorism was a major challenge that required an appropriate response. His country had ratified a number of international legal instruments, including the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, and similarly, had promulgated a national law for that purpose. Regionally, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had adopted the Kinshasa Convention, aimed at regulating small arms and light weapons.
ANNETTE ONANGA (Gabon), endorsing the statements of the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed measures taken by States domestically to combat terrorism. By adopting the Global Strategy, Member States had made a commitment to combating the phenomenon. The legal framework to do so must be consolidated. Differences impeding the completion of a universal counter-terrorism convention must be overcome. She also appealed for strengthening the capacity of developing countries to combat terrorism, taking into account the priorities of those countries.
JEANNE D’ARC BYAJE (Rwanda), associating with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said her country and the Great Lakes region were particularly threatened by terrorist groups that affected the stability and security of the region. One terrorist organization that destabilized the Great Lakes region was the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda, which had been responsible for massive and gross violations of human rights, including rape and other forms of sexual abuse.
Noting the movement’s growing number of attacks on Rwandan territory, she said her country remained committed to working with its neighbouring countries and the international community to fight the scourge. It had ratified international anti-terrorism instruments and put in pertinent laws to prevent and suppress international terrorism, and would continue to collaborate in regional and international efforts to combat terrorism.
MILORAD ŠĆEPANOVIĆ ( Montenegro) said that fighting terrorism required the joint engagement of all United Nations members, agencies and relevant international organizations. Strengthening cooperation must be a priority. For its part, Montenegro participated within the United Nations, European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to strengthen anti-terrorist cooperation. A party to major counter-terrorism conventions, his country also was implementing a national strategy to suppress terrorism and money laundering. He urged implementing the recommendations of the Global Strategy, and expressed hope that a comprehensive convention would soon be finalized.
JIDDOU JIDDOU ( Mauritania) said the international community must combat and uproot terrorism today rather than tomorrow. That could only happen through well-coordinated actions among agencies and nations, and by addressing terrorism’s root causes. Financing development, creating programmes to employ youth, and improving health care and education, for example, was needed, particularly in the least developed countries. The Sahel region in Africa had been suffering the spread of transborder organized crime, including human trafficking, arms smuggling and hostage-taking. He called upon States to combat that phenomenon, as nations of the Sahel could not challenge that threat alone. It was incumbent upon the international family to think urgently about the causes of terrorism, to uproot it and to dry up its resources.
DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), associating with ASEAN, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that on a national level several counter-terrorism laws had been enacted. It had actively pursued regional and global cooperation with ASEAN member States and had served as chair of the Counter-Terrorism Task Force of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation for the term 2013-2014.
He said that the Global Strategy must remain at the foundation of multilateral cooperation, and called for its four pillars to be implemented in a comprehensive and balanced manner. As the international community worked harder to address terrorism’s root causes, the response must be holistic rather than reactive and sporadic. A wide range of factors must be taken into account, such as law enforcement and legislative frameworks, socioeconomic policy and the advancement of democratic values.
Right of Reply
In exercise of the right of reply, a representative of Iran said that the Israeli regime, an illegitimate regime from its inception, should have nothing to say in the meeting. That regime had caused the death of thousands of Palestinians and had committed numerous criminal acts against Palestinians and others. For one instance, he noted that innocent Iranian scientists had been killed before the eyes of their families by agents of the Israeli regime. The international community should stop terrorism starting with that regime.
Introduction of Report
JAN ELIASSON, Deputy Secretary-General, introduced the Secretary-General’s annual report on strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule-of-law activities. Recalling the high-level meeting held in September 2012, he underscored that the meeting and its Declaration adopted unanimously by all member States had marked a milestone; the meeting had provided an opportunity to reach a common understanding of the principle, while the Declaration strengthened the links between rule of law and the United Nations three pillars: peace and security, human rights, and sustainable development. The Secretary-General, at the request of the General Assembly, was now undertaking a wide process of consultations with stakeholders to develop a comprehensive approach in the matter.
Noting that the subject of today’s discussion focused on the peaceful settlement of international disputes, he reminded delegates that it had been the determination to, as stated in the Charter, “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”, which had motivated States to create the Organization. Recalling Chapter 1 of the Charter, which referred to the “effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats”, he emphasized that to take measures collectively was a basic principle of the United Nations. “We should be reminded of this very often,” he stated.
“The cornerstone of peaceful settlement of international disputes is observing the rule of law,” he went on to say, adding that the principles and norms of international law provided the parameters that guided relationships between States, as well as the tools to resolve any disputes. The International Court of Justice had a special place in that context. As such, the Secretary-General had launched a campaign to persuade more States to accept its compulsory jurisdiction.
Strengthening the rule of law within States and between States was one of the most effective means of fulfilling States’ responsibility to protect all peoples, he said. It was for that reason that the Secretary-General and he paid such close attention to that topic. The Secretary-General’s latest annual report provided an update on the projects and initiatives undertaken by the Organization in that regard.
The report also covered the measures that had been adopted regarding the Organization’s institutional arrangements for supporting the rule of law, he said. Major steps had been taken to enhance coordination at Headquarters and in the field, and to establish strategic guidance and priorities. In addition, the report aimed to support the Legal Committee’s important work on the rule of law. The Committee’s engagement had, he underscored, greatly contributed to the progress achieved in consolidating the rule of law as one of the United Nations foundational principles.
GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the rule of law was essential to maintaining international peace and security and achieving socioeconomic development. The Charter provided normative guidance, in particular with the sovereign equality of States and the prohibition of the threat or use of force in international relations, among others.
Encouraging States to engage international law mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of disputes, he stated that the application of unilateral measures had a negative impact on the rule of international law and on international relations. The powers of each principal organ of the United Nations needed to be respected, in particular the General Assembly. The continuing encroachment by the Security Council on the Assembly’s powers was of concern.
National ownership of rule-of-law activities, he continued, needed to be respected. Domestic implementation of international obligations required enhanced technical assistance and capacity-building, but without the imposition of pre-established models that would hinder the resolution of existing problems in each country. As there was no agreed definition of rule of law, data-gathering activities by United Nations bodies must not lead to a unilateral formulation of rule of law indicators not agreed upon by Member States. Further, he condemned any attempt to destabilize the democratic and constitutional order in any Movement m ember State.
RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said there was room for improvement in increasing the efficiency of rule-of-law activities. Respecting the principle at the international level implied compliance with the existing legal framework, equally among all States and international organizations. Affirming States’ obligations to settle disputes peacefully, he also urged continued efforts to revitalize the General Assembly, strengthen the Economic and Social Council and reform the Security Council.
He went on to note important decisions to reform the Bretton Woods institutions’ governance structures, quotas and voting rights. Recognizing the links between the rule of law at international and national levels, he strongly urged States to refrain from applying unilateral economic, financial or trade measures, especially against developing countries. On the peaceful settlement of disputes, he highlighted Chapter VI, Article 33 of the Charter, as well as relevant Assembly resolutions.
SALEUMXAY KOMMASITH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), urged that selectivity and double standards in the application of international law be avoided. The principles of the rule of law were enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, as well as in the landmark ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, recently adopted. Pointing out that the Association had developed from a “loose grouping” into a rule-based organization with a legal personality, he noted other countries’ growing interest in acceding to its key legal documents.
He went on to reaffirm the commitment of ASEAN States to fulfilling their obligations, in line with the United Nations Charter and international treaties to which they were party. The participation of those States in last year’s high-level meeting on the Rule of Law confirmed that they stood ready to work with all partners in promoting the rule of law at international, regional and national levels.
GILLES MARHIC, Minister Counsellor, Delegation of the European Union, said the Declaration adopted at the 2012 high-level meeting reaffirmed the fundamental importance of the rule of law to peace and security, human rights, and development. The post-2015 development framework should address justice, equality, good governance, democracy and the rule of law. The Union had made substantive commitments to strengthen the rule of law and encouraged others to do the same.
On the peaceful settlement of disputes, he emphasized the role of judicial mechanisms, stating strong support for the International Court of Justice, and calling on all States that had not done so to consider accepting its jurisdiction. Also expressing support for the International Criminal Court, he urged all States to ratify or accede to the Rome Statute, as well as States parties to implement the Statute in their national order. He welcomed the Security Council’s efforts to reinforce fair procedures for sanctions, and more broadly, United Nations efforts to ensure coherence in its rule-of-law activities.
SIGNE BURGSTALLER ( Sweden), speaking for the Nordic Countries, said the rule of law was a value which must be continuously articulated and explained. No actor was better placed for that task than the United Nations and it must therefore intensify its work to promote norms and standards. Strengthening the principle’s presence in enforcement, justice and corrections should retain high priority but, above all, the rule of law should be regarded as a principle of governance.
The interdependence between the rule of law and gender equality also should be considered, he said. The fight against impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes was at the core of the rule of law. Expressing staunch support for the International Criminal Court and the ad hoc criminal tribunals, he said transitional justice and mediation mechanisms should likewise be considered in the formulation of post-conflict rule-of-law strategies. The International Court of Justice was an underused tool for peaceful conflict resolution. Finally, the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group should expand its consultation process to establish links with public and private stakeholders.
JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) said adherence to the rule of law was fundamental to maintaining international peace and security. There was no graver situation calling for action, in accordance with the rule of law, than that in Syria, where the use of chemical weapons had contravened international law. He condemned the use of such weapons and other violations of international humanitarian law against the people of Syria, and urged working together to ensure an appropriate response. For its part, New Zealand promoted the rule of law in the region and elsewhere through assistance and capacity-building. It also supported the International Criminal Court. Recognizing that dispute resolution and reconciliation was not a one-size-fits-all model, he said that that alternative means of promoting the rule of law could also be effective.
STUERCHLER GONZENBACH ( Switzerland) said it was vital that the Declaration on the rule of law be implemented. He welcomed the consultation process on strengthening the rule of law, launched by the Secretary-General, and the publication of Guidance on contacts with persons who are the subject of arrest warrants or summonses issued by the International Criminal Court. However, he stated regret that the International Court of Justice had not reached its full potential, as it could only entertain disputes if the concerned States had accepted its jurisdiction. Instruments allowing States to recognize the Court’s jurisdiction were not well known or used. As such, Switzerland and others were drafting a document that would present those instruments, as well as template declarations and model clauses for States to accept jurisdiction. It would be published in 2014.
MWABA P. KASESE-BOTA ( Zambia) supported the call to foster the rule of law at the international level, notably vis-à-vis dispute settlement. The rule of law applied equally to all States and international organizations, requiring the strict adherence to the principles of the supremacy of the law, equality before the law and accountability to the law. Zambia’s constitution provided that all persons were equal before the law. Oversight institutions, such as the Human Rights Commission, promoted fairness in the application of the law. The Government was reviewing the constitution and had adopted a policy of zero tolerance towards corruption. At the international level, Zambia contributed troops and other personnel to conflict and post-conflict situations.
ANA CRISTINA RODRÍGUEZ PINEDA (Guatemala), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said the main function of the United Nations was not to create international machinery replacing national structures, but to create national capacities in the realm of justice. The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, created in 2006, had been successful in its responsibilities, including criminal prosecution, technical training and legislation. It served as a model of institutional strengthening that was novel, effective and profound, proving that it was possible to combat impunity.
Expressing support for the Organization’s work in preventing situations that were a threat to peace, she pointed out that all existing methods to resolve disputes operated only with the consent of States in question. States were free to choose whichever method they wished to use. Further, all States and their methods of settling were independent. There was no hierarchy between them. The appropriateness of the method would depend on the situation in question.
ALEJANDRO SOUSA BRAVO (Mexico), endorsing the statement by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, welcomed the use of the rule of law as one of the cross-cutting items in the General Assembly and in elaborating the post-2015 development agenda. The rule of law was essential to all countries, especially in meeting development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. It was comprised of the principles enshrined in the Charter, not just at the international level, but also at the national level. In that regard, progress was needed in building and strengthening national capacities. He expressed conviction that any dispute could be settled peacefully. The rule of law constituted a universal aspiration to build a more peaceful and prosperous and just world.
YOUSSOU NDOUR ( Senegal) said that the Organization’s support to countries strengthening their national capacity in rule of law was now all the more important. Efforts to build peace, justice and sustainable development had been battered by crises so complex, special attention had been required The United Nations needed to build States’ capacities, especially developing States, to make it easier for them to implement principles of the rule of law towards fostering economic and social development. Since its independence, Senegal had strived to forge a State based on the rule of law and respect for human rights. Promoting those principles was a daily concern for its people and Government.
Ms. HAFIZ ( Saudi Arabia) said her country’s constitution was inspired by Islamic Shariah, which included human rights and the equality of all citizens under the law. Saudi Arabia never interfered in the internal affairs of other countries. Its relations were based on non-alignment, cooperation with other States and participation in international organizations, as the peaceful settlement of disputes, she noted, was always the best way. Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy was based on stable principles: the United Nations Charter as well as to all treaties and conventions it had joined, and on international law. Further, her country complied with all General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.
ILYA ADAMOV ( Belarus), supporting the statement made by the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that an Economic Court for the Commonwealth of Independent States had been established in Belarus. As well, a Court of the Eurasian Economic Community was in place, and had already considered a series of disagreements stemming from international treaties within the framework of the Customs Union and the Single Economic Area. It was time to craft new approaches to encourage Member States to use existing international mechanisms established for the peaceful settlement of disputes. The creation of trust funds could ease the financial burden for developing States seeking assistance from international judiciary bodies. He underscored that the Declaration of the 2012 high-level meeting called upon States to refrain from imposing unilateral economic, financial or trade measures, which ran counter to the Charter and international law, and which would hinder development. He urged that all United Nations system entities set an example in strictly adhering to international law.
S.C. MISRA ( India) said the Declaration of the 2012 high-level meeting took stock of the contemporary political, social and economic conditions, and stressed the implementation of the rule of law principles in order to achieve international peace and security, peaceful coexistence, gender justice and development. The outcome document also stressed the importance of continuing efforts to reform the Security Council. It was therefore essential to do so as early as possible to make that body broadly representative, efficient and transparent. Noting that the creation of laws at the national level was exclusively the domain of the national legislature, he said the rule of law was a fundamental concept to be fully observed in the creation and implementation of law, but that there was no established definition of the term “rule of law”.
KENGO OTSUKA (Japan) said international courts and tribunals played a vital role in maintaining peace and security, notably by strengthening a rule-based system though the fair and impartial application of the law. Japan supported the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the International Criminal Court through substantial financial contribution, and by allowing Japanese nationals to serve as judges in those bodies. The draft articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers offered a good basis for developing a stable system in the field of underground water management, and he looked forward to discussing them. As well, Japan had extended support to Asian countries for the development of stable legal systems and capable human resources.
THEMBILE JOYINI (South Africa), noting that his country was a sponsor of the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid, said that States must provide legal aid to the poor. That right was integral to the right to access justice. It also protected society’s most vulnerable members by safeguarding against pre-trial detention, torture or other abuses. He expressed hope that an international conference on the right to legal aid would be held next year. Domestically, South Africa was promoting accountability mechanisms, while at the international level it was engaged in bilateral and trilateral agreements, as well as mediation efforts. States interpreted their legal obligations in conflicting ways, a challenge that could be met through regular recourse to the International Court of Justice.
TANIERIS DIEGUEZ LA O (Cuba), associating with the statements made by Iran and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that, among others, a true rule of law had to start with a reformed United Nations that could uphold standards of transparency and democracy, and could guarantee the participation of the entire international community. It also meant bringing democracy to international monetary, economic and financial institutions so that they served to develop peoples, and not to continue the ongoing enrichment of a few.
She went on to express concern at attempts to politicize the rule of law, which required the unequivocal rejection of any unilateral act or measure, including the promulgation and application of extra-territorial law. She condemned the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States more than 50 years ago, and called on Member States to cast a vote on 29 October this year to uphold the values that constituted a true rule of law.
HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia), emphasizing the importance of sovereign equality and the equal application of international law, among others, said that adherence to such principles provided a peaceful means for resolving disagreements. In doing so, States must refrain from the threat or use of force. International legal mechanisms offered numerous avenues for pacific dispute settlement, he said, pointing out that his country had relied on the International Court of Justice for such resolution. In addition, his country had also facilitated peace talks between the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which had led to an historic peace framework agreement. More broadly, double standards and selectivity should be avoided, especially in pointing out alleged atrocities in one situation while ignoring those in another.
RESUL ŞAHINOL ( Turkey) said the three-tier system created to strengthen the United Nations ability to deliver its rule-of-law activities was useful and practical. Indeed, the rule of law went hand in hand with the interlinked principles of human rights, democratic values, justice and international law. It also was related to sustained and inclusive economic growth. There was no dividing line between the rule of law at the national and international levels; national ownership was at the heart of the matter. Upholding the rule of law was incumbent on all States, which had an historic responsibility to create the conditions for a secure, just and prosperous world.
ALI BIN FAHAD AL-HAJRI ( Qatar) said that Qatar promulgated national legislation in accordance with international law and conducted workshops to inform citizens and residents of those laws. In its national programmes, Qatar sought to link the rule of law to development, making the principle a pillar of social and economic life. As national laws must take into account international law, he stressed the importance of accountability which would ensure that countries fulfilled their obligations nationally and internationally. Noting that nobody was above the law, he spoke of the war crimes and crimes against humanity being perpetrated by the Syrian regime, and called upon the United Nations to hold that regime to account.
TUVAKO N. MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) said that without strong national capacities, efforts to strengthen the rule of law globally would be undermined. Therefore, the United Nations must sustain its focus on providing assistance, as it was ideally placed to support State efforts. In that context, he urged enhancing coordination among various national rule of law initiatives. United Nations agencies should promote the exchange of good practices and formulation of common policies, while refraining from a one-size-fits-all approach. His country’s adherence to the rule of law underpinned its work to formulate a new constitution. Disputes, such as those on territorial sovereignty, should be peacefully resolved by engaging international judicial bodies, including the International Court of Justice.
JEFFREY SALIM WAHEED ( Maldives) said that the Maldives was party to eight of the nine core international human rights instruments, as well as to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) eight core conventions on fundamental human rights and the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. His country was now formulating a national strategy to strengthen capacity to comply with those instruments, and was also seeking to ratify or accede to others. Coming from a small island developing State, he said that a comprehensive definition of such States was needed so that they could gain full recognition within global governance regimes and multilateral and financial institutions. The burden of maintaining the rule of law extended beyond national Governments to multilateral organizations. “[A]s a community of nations, [we] have a solemn duty to come together in agreeing to one definition as to what constitutes the rule of law,” he stated.
ANASTASIA CARAYANIDES ( Australia) said the International Court of Justice played a critical role by offering States a mechanism through which they could seek judicial settlement. She called on States that had not done so to ratify and implement the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. While noting recent concerns about the Court in the African context, she welcomed its high rate of membership among African countries. In addition, it was important that States provide adequate funding for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. She underscored the need to help States build the capacity of their justice institutions, noting that Australia provided rule of law assistance and was actively working to build peace in the region.
KARLA RAMIREZ (Nicaragua), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said her country had observed the resolutions of the International Court of Justice and had complied in all cases in which it had been involved, which was not the case for other States. She rejected those who based their international relations on selective implementation of international law, extraterritorial interference and threat or use of force. While that conduct existed, the rule of law could not prevail.
The role of the rule of law at the international level had to be strengthened, she continued, beginning first and foremost with the reform of the Security Council. Because there was no one-size-fits-all model of democracy, respect of sovereignty and national decisions must always be considered. She urged all Member States that had not yet acknowledged the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to do so in order to promote the rule of law at the international level.
MAHSOOD KHAN (Pakistan), joining the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Security Council should utilize the full potential of the International Court of Justice in the settlement of disputes, seeking advisory opinions whenever faced with issues of legal intricacy and referring disputing parties to the Court more frequently. Such solutions would do more to uphold rule of law than rhetoric and posturing. Further, the Council should set an example in the matter. The use of force should be consistent with the Charter’s principles relating to collective security. Chapter VII should be used as a last resort. In addition, work was needed to end impunity for financial crimes; mechanisms must be established to repatriate resources that had been unlawfully acquired. He also supported reform in the sanctions regime, and said that international humanitarian law was the guiding law in armed conflict. The Security Council must demand adherence.
OCTOVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that one of the challenges facing the international community included strengthening the legal order under the rule of law. Respect for the rule of law, including respect for treaties, was at the very essence of peaceful international coexistence. States had an obligation to resolve conflicts peacefully. Commending the work of the International Court of Justice, he said its jurisprudence has made significant contributions to international law. He also acknowledged the work of other special tribunals, including the International Criminal Court, calling them the most advanced manifestation of international criminal justice.
SAENG KIM ( Republic of Korea) said his country’s commitment to the rule of law had played an essential role in enabling economic growth and enhancing human rights. His Government was wholly committed to an international legal framework that valued the rule of law as its guiding principle. While the United Nations was vital to ensuring that such principles were upheld, the rule of law would only take root with a corresponding national commitment. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s report, he said the International Criminal Court and other criminal tribunals had made great strides in the fight against impunity. He looked forward to the Committee’s consultations on the rule of law, which should involve as broad a spectrum of stakeholders as possible.
BORIS HOLOVKA (Serbia), stating strong support for all initiatives aimed at conflict prevention and peaceful dispute resolution, said his country had acceded to all major international instruments related to non-proliferation and disarmament and arms control, and was committed to their systematic implementation. Reaffirming Serbia’s firm commitment to a global order based on international law, he said combating impunity was an obligation. His country had helped to strengthen international justice and improve State relations in the Balkans. Further, Serbia attached great importance to transitional justice, which had been particularly important in that region. He also underscored the importance of the International Criminal Court, noting that Serbia was committed to serving its goals.
NORACHIT SINHASENI ( Thailand) said the rule of law fostered predictability and legitimacy in State actions and strengthened their sovereign equality before the law. Dispute settlement, outlined in the Charter, as well as international courts and tribunals, all contributed to peaceful coexistence among States. Thailand attached great importance to harmonizing its domestic laws with international norms and standards, having recently ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. In addition, his country would host the second Assembly of Parties to the International Anti-Corruption Academy Agreement in December of this year. In sum, he supported mainstreaming the rule of law into the post-2015 development agenda.
RAUFF HAKEEM ( Sri Lanka) said the rule of law did not belong to any one part of humanity; nor did any State or group of States have a monopoly on interpreting it. It was important to respect the diverse roots of the rule of law. In Sri Lanka, the legal system provided a reassuring framework that had evolved to accommodate diverse cultural, ethnic and religious differences. The rule of law could not be enforced from the outside or conform to an external prescription that ignored domestic realities. Long-term solutions to transnational organized crime, terrorism and piracy required delivery of basic services by justice and security institutions.
URŠKA KRAMBERGER-MENDEK ( Slovenia) said special attention should be given to the prevention of mass atrocities and the fight against impunity, recalling that it was a shared duty to implement all three pillars of the responsibility to protect initiative. “We have to strengthen our prevention capacities and better use the methods incorporated in Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter”, she said. The International Criminal Court and other tribunals were essential for the rule of law to take root, especially when States were unable or unwilling to prosecute perpetrators of the most heinous crimes. She urged strengthening the international legal framework for judicial assistance, including extradition, between States, and called on States to ratify or accede to the Rome Statute.
PHAM QUANG HIEU ( Viet Nam) said adherence to the rule of law formed the legal foundation for States’ collective responses to global challenges. As such, its full implementation at national and international levels was fundamental in the pursuit of durable peace, peaceful dispute settlement and human rights protection. Viet Nam was committed to realizing a politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible ASEAN Community in 2015. With that in mind, he underscored the importance of implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and concluding a Code of Conduct for that area to ensure peaceful dispute settlement. In addition, Viet Nam was revising its Constitution to foster a law-governed socialist State.
GERT AUVÄÄRT ( Estonia) called on countries that had not done so to join the Rome Statute system. He also urged States Parties to ratify the Kampala amendments. Estonia had lived up to its promise to ratify those amendments by the end of 2013, having submitted its letter of ratification six months ago. Commending the United Nations cooperation with the International Criminal Court, notably by providing logistical support for field operations, he urged continued
improvement of that relationship to enhance the Court’s legitimacy. States must acknowledge that it was their primary duty to develop national capacities to investigate and prosecute serious international crimes. Consistent prosecution, domestically or internationally, was the most effective tool to combat international crimes.
NOUR ZARROUK ( Tunisia) said that the rule of law was most effective when people were enfranchised to lift their voices. To that end, Tunisia was elaborating its national constitution. As well, the complex, interconnected challenges facing the international community also needed to be addressed through the rule of law. The mechanisms for peaceful settlement of international disputes had proven to be critical at easing tensions and had achieved many settlements. However, there was still a need to optimize their use. They should be able to expand to meet the increasingly complex situations that were arising. States should strengthen their mediation capacities and regionally States could work together to pinpoint problems and address them early on.
LIBRAN L. CABACTULAN (Philippines), associating with the Association of South-East Asian Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country supported the early conclusion of a binding Code of Conduct affecting the exclusive economic zone and beyond of coastal States in its region. About 90 per cent of all commercial goods that travelled from one continent to another moved along and beyond the exclusive zone. That represented 50 per cent of those goods in terms of gross tonnage, or one third in terms of monetary value, amounting to more than $5.3 trillion annually.
Noting that freedom in the high seas was essential to global peace and the stability of the international economy and that his country’s interests were more than just economic, he expressed hope that in the near future a peaceful, durable and mutually beneficial maritime regime would exist. For a quarter century, from 1988 until it had instituted arbitration proceedings early this year, his country had exhausted almost all bilateral diplomatic and political avenues for a peaceful negotiated settlement. Clarifying the rules and maritime entitlements would benefit not just the Philippines, but all claimants and the international community, as a whole.
GEORGINA GUILLEN-GRILLO ( Costa Rica), joining the statement of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States, said that it was essential for the conditions elaborated in the Charter to be implemented in the rule of law. In 1973 Costa Rica had accepted the international jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and had sought its assistance in resolving several disputes. She expressed optimism about the role of the international criminal tribunals and particularly stressed the importance of the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court. The Court needed sufficient resources to carry out its mandate. However, there must be no distortion of that mandate through politicization. In closing she said that countries adhering to the rule of law created better living conditions for their citizens and allowed for speedier development.
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