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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization (2012)

F. Promotion of justice and international law

a group of law enforcement personel talking

Throughout the past year, the Organization nurtured conditions for the respect of the rule of law through its focus on combating impunity and strengthening accountability. It responded to the global demand for its rule of law expertise with interventions in more than 150 countries, and significant work is ongoing in peace operations with rule of law mandates. For example in Côte d’Ivoire as of January 2012, with the support of the United Nations, all 37 courts and 19 (out of 33) prisons had reopened after the post-election crisis, including the main prison in Abidjan. In South Sudan, joint United Nations efforts supported the extension of justice and policing services into Jonglei State. In 2011, mobile courts delivered 217 judgements relating to sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the support of the United Nations and other international partners. In Kenya, the United Nations assisted with the drafting of implementing legislation for the new Kenyan Constitution.

The Organization provided support to transitional justice processes in more than 20 countries worldwide. For instance, in 2011, support to the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission of Togo was instrumental in helping the Commission to hold over 400 hearings. The reparations programmes in Sierra Leone, supported through the Peacebuilding Fund, have conducted community reparations events and delivered partial benefits to 20,000 of the 32,000 registered victims.

The United Nations also continued to promote accountability for international crimes and advocate for further ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The first judgement of the Court, in the Lubanga case, constitutes an important step in ensuring the accountability of those responsible for international crimes.

The United Nations-established and United Nations-assisted criminal tribunals continue to contribute to combating impunity and bringing about an age of accountability. The International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda are on course to finish their trials. The transfer of cases from the latter Tribunal to Rwanda will greatly facilitate progress in this regard.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone convicted Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, of planning, aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. This first conviction of a former Head of State by an international criminal tribunal since Nuremberg is a historic moment for international criminal justice.

The mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was due to expire on 29 February 2012. Since its work was not completed, its mandate was extended for an additional period of three years to enable it to conduct proceedings against the four persons it has indicted.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia completed their first case, convicting Kaing Guek Eav (alias Duch) of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and, on appeal, extended his sentence from 35 years to life imprisonment. The Chambers have also started their second case, against the four most senior surviving members of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Further to my report on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict (A/66/311-S/2011/527), I have established an arrangement of global focal points for the areas of justice, police and corrections to enable the Organization to deliver more accountable and predictable capacities in these areas.

I look forward to the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the rule of law at the opening of its sixty-seventh session with the hope that it will establish new and innovative mechanisms to strengthen the rule of law at the national and international levels.