F. Promotion of justice and international law
The past year was a landmark year for the promotion of justice and international law. The declaration of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the rule of law at the national and international levels, adopted in September 2012, affirmed that rule of law means that all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to just, fair and equitable laws and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. The declaration also cemented the centrality of the rule of law to the work of the Organization across the three pillars of peace and security, development and human rights.
The United Nations provided rule of law assistance to more than 150 Member States in the past year. Through the ad hoc tribunals and the United Nations-backed tribunals, we continued the important work of promoting accountability for serious crimes of international concern. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicted four individuals allegedly involved in the attack that killed the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri, and 22 others and issued arrest warrants for them. As efforts to locate and arrest the four accused have not been successful to date, the Special Tribunal will proceed to try them in absentia. The Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone will commence functioning upon the closure of the Special Court. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia are working on a second trial, involving two of the four surviving senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime. The Extraordinary Chambers however face significant funding challenges that could jeopardize the judicial proceedings. It is imperative that both the Government of Cambodia and Member States live up to their commitments to support the Extraordinary Chambers. The International Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda moved closer to finishing their cases and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals started operations at Arusha in July 2012 and at The Hague in July 2013. It is crucial for international justice to be, and to be seen as, absolutely impartial if its reconciliation purposes are to be fully realized.
The United Nations continued to cooperate with the International Criminal Court pursuant to the Relationship Agreement between the two entities. I encouraged Member States to ratify the Rome Statute and its amendments and worked closely with the African Union to encourage all African Union members to accept the International Criminal Court as the centrepiece of the international criminal justice system. There are currently 122 States parties to the Rome Statute. Seven of those States have ratified the amendment on the crime of aggression. In the reporting period, the Prosecutor opened investigations into war crimes in Mali, the eighth country situation for the Court. United Nations operations and offices in Mali have been consulted by and have provided preliminary information to the Prosecutor. A court-wide memorandum of understanding between the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire and the Court was concluded in June. The Organization has provided logistical and other forms of assistance to the Court to the extent that this was consistent with the mandate of the particular United Nations operation or office.