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GA/L/3477
9 October 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 4th & 5th Meeting (AM & PM)

Balancing Rule of Law’s National, International Dimensions Critical to Principle’s Just Implementation, Sixth Committee Told as Debate Begins

Finding a balance between the international and national dimensions of the rule of law was indispensable to furthering the principle’s just implementation, speakers told the Sixth (Legal) Committee as it opened deliberations on the topic.

Speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, Iran’s representative said that while the United Nations must oversee the exercise of international law, it must not replace national law.  Rather, it should enhance national capacity-building at the request of recipient Governments, taking into account national customs and realities in order to avoid imposing models that would inhibit resolving national problems.

Indeed, Cuba’s representative said that promoting and strengthening the rule of law started from recognizing the right of States to determine their own national legal and political systems that respected their unique cultures.  A proper balance between international and national rule of law, therefore, must be maintained.

The problem was not in the concept of the rule of law, said the representative of the Russian Federation, as his country had always spoken in favour of strengthening the international and national order.  The choice of model or system of governance should be an internal matter for States, rather than attempting to use indicators of compliance or commitments to bring all States under a single universal model.

The representative of Belarus, pointing out that the term had yet to be clearly defined, called for clear distinctions between the rule of law and related notions, such as human rights, access to justice and others, a stance echoed by other delegations.

Furthermore, his counterpart from Liechtenstein stated, it was surprising that Member States had been unable to agree on the inclusion of the term “rule of law” in the title of goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals, referring to it only as “access to justice”.

Finland’s representative, speaking for the Nordic countries, said access to justice would enable sustained economic growth and poverty reduction, while the delegate of Costa Rica, speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, reminded the Committee that the subtopic of the current session was “Sharing States’ national practices in strengthening the rule of law through access to justice”.

Concluding the debate on measures to eliminate international terrorism were representatives of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Tunisia, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, Madagascar, Iran, Libya, Kenya, Botswana, Jordan, Benin, Venezuela, Maldives, Georgia, Uganda, Armenia and Mongolia.

Speaking on the matter in exercise of right of reply were representatives of Russian Federation and Georgia.

Speaking on the rule of law were delegates from Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (speaking for Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)), South Africa (speaking for the African Group), Trinidad and Tobago (speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Australia, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Guatemala, Democratic Republic of Congo, Qatar, Sudan, Libya, Lesotho, Pakistan, Colombia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Poland, Japan and Malaysia, , as well as a representative of the European Union.

The Committee will meet to continue its consideration of the rule of law at the national and international level at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, 10 October.

Background

The Sixth Committee today would conclude its consideration of measures to eliminate international terrorism (for background see Press Release GA/L/3475), and take up deliberations on rule of law.  On that topic, it had before it two reports from the Secretary-General on strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities (documents A/69/181 and A/68/213/Add.1).

Statements on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism

Mr. ALBOGAMI (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that his country had provided millions to the United Nations Centre for Combatting Terrorism, which had been successful in combatting extremism at borders, including in the Sahel, and through cooperation with other centres.  He asked that those centres receive support from the international community.  He expressed particular concern about the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which covered a significant territory and affected many citizens in Syria and Iraq.  Errors had been made, including the failure to define terrorism, which should recognize the rights of those under foreign occupation.  People in those circumstances suffered greatly, pushing them to turn to extremism.  Expressing support for all international initiatives to find solutions, he said that as recently emerging terrorist groups were well-financed and had broad reach, their financing must be stopped.

ZAHIR TANIN (Afghanistan), associating himself with OIC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that in the past six months, terrorists and extremist armed groups had taken advantage of the protracted political and electoral crisis and a situation of uncertainty to launch major assaults around Afghanistan, resulting in casualties among civilians and security personnel.  Nonetheless, the national army and police, on the front lines of all counter-terrorism operations, were continuing their effort unabated.  Scores of terrorists and enemy combatants had been killed or captured.  Moreover, hundreds of terrorist plots had been averted in various parts of the country.  As well, the Government continued to engage its neighbours to promote regional cooperation, concerned about the rise of violent acts in the region.  Gravely concerned about the recent significant increase in the number of foreign terrorist fighters among Taliban and Al Qaeda in his country, he welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 2178 (2014), and emphasized the need for further cooperation to address foreign terrorist fighters.

BASHAR ABDULAH E R S ALMOWAIZRI (Kuwait), associating himself with OIC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that counter-terrorism should be bolstered through measures based on international law, and should address the underlying causes.  Noting that his country had acceded to 18 instruments on the matter, as well as a number of bi-lateral measures, he supported the conclusion of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, as long as it did not impede the right of peoples to self-determination.  He also welcomed the Security Council resolution on foreign fighters and expressed support for a culture of peace and tolerance, including respect for religious symbols.

NOUR ZARROUK BOUMIZA (Tunisia), associating herself with OIC, the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said combating terrorism required a global strategy at all levels.  For that reason, her Government had criminalized such acts, reforming laws to combat terrorism and money laundering, in line with human rights.  Among initiatives being taken, it was establishing institutions for the training of imams.  In the same vein, a set of measures had just been announced, that included the immediate suspension of activities of non-governmental organizations suspected of having terrorist ties.  Tunisia was committed to judicial prosecution against those accused of inciting hatred or murder.  Regionally and sub-regionally, her country had acceded to almost all initiatives to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation.

U HAN THEIN KYAW (Myanmar), associating himself with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said 2014 was of significance to his country in light of the various counter-terrorism legislation it had enacted.  The Anti-Money Laundering Law was enacted in March, while the Anti-Terrorism Law came into force in June.  It would continue to cooperate with United Nations bodies in developing necessary legislation.  To date, his country had become a State party to 11 international counter-terrorism instruments and a signatory to one; it was looking at the possibility of signing or acceding to more relevant international or regional instruments.  Given the many challenges developing countries face in the fight against terrorism due to lack of capacity and strong institutions, he urged the United Nations and other partners to step up their assistance for capacity building in those countries.

HUSNIYYA MAMMADOVA (Azerbaijan), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and OIC, said that States must observe their international obligations, ensuring, among other things, that their territories are not used for terrorist activity.  Priority and greater support should be accorded to implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in an integrated manner, and relevant Security Council resolutions.  In particular, she urged prompt and effective enforcement of the Council’s sanctions regimes.  Encouraging cooperation on the matter, she stressed the effectiveness of human-centred approaches, and ensuring that the voices of victims be heard.  She enumerated her country’s cooperative efforts internationally and regionally, as well as its implementation of national legislation on money-laundering and terrorist financing, among others. Stressing the importance of intercultural and interfaith dialogue, she said it was a privilege for Azerbaijan to host the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (AOC) Seventh Global Forum in 2016.

LYDIA RANDRIANARIVONY (Madagascar), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said her country was facing full national reconstruction following five years of crisis.  As part of its counter-terrorism efforts, it had recently adopted laws on combatting terrorism and transnational organized crime, which included criminalization of terrorism financing.  The new Government of her country was also working to elaborate a new draft law on mutual judicial assistance.  At the regional level, Madagascar had hosted the 2013 annual meeting of the Justice Platform of Indian Ocean Countries on judicial cooperation, in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime.  She expressed support for the upcoming workshops on counter-terrorism strategy for experts of member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).  Currently, her Government was proceeding to ratification of the Rabat Declaration, concluded in Morocco on mutual judicial assistance.

HOSSEIN GHARIBI (Iran), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and OIC, stressed the need to include State terrorism in combatting international terrorism, noting that the comprehensive convention on the matter should also address the issue.  The uninhibited violence and extremism presently threatening the world could not be resolved without accurately understanding how the situation had come about.  Furthermore, the unilateral compilations of lists of terrorism-supporting States contravened international law, and only served political ends.  Attention was also needed to the listing and delisting of terrorist organizations, as one such that targeted Iranian citizens had been delisted; although, while on the list, its leaders and perpetrators had enjoyed impunity.  In addition, the financing of terrorism must be addressed in an impartial, objective, technical and non-political manner.  Responding to a statement from the Israeli delegation, he said that the Committee’s time should not be wasted in making political accusations.  The State of Israel had been illegitimate from its inception and should not accuse others, while its acts in Gaza had caused untold suffering to people already struggling under eight years of blockade.  The international community should stop Israel’s State terrorism.

ESSA A. E. ESSA (Libya), associating himself with OIC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country, which was grappling with terrorism, was acceding to international and regional counter-terrorism instruments, as well as concluding a bilateral convention on cooperation to combat terrorism.  Its Parliament had recently enacted a law on the matter, through which a national committee would be set up and tasked with studying the scourge, including financing, modernizing legislation, helping victims of terrorism and implementing General Assembly resolutions.  He expressed hope that Libyan authorities would be assisted in their efforts to strengthen the army and policy.  The country’s interim Government was intensifying efforts to monitor borders and to combat transnational crimes, such as smuggling arms and persons and trading in drugs.  While his delegation welcomed Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) on foreign terrorist fighters, he emphasized that the phenomenon must be addressed by tightening border control and impeding finance sources.

ANDREW M. KITHURANI (Kenya), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the principal terrorist threat in his country came from Al-Shabaab.  Since the merger of that armed group with Al-Qaeda, it was expanding its links with other terrorist organizations, including ISIL, with many of Al-Shabaab’s fighters travelling to Syria and Iraq.  Boko Haram was also pursuing ideological links with Al-Shabaab towards establishing a caliphate in the region.  Recognizing the need to share intelligence and resources among Governments, Kenya was investing in combating extremists, terrorists and foreign terrorist fighters, and was seeking global partners.  National policies were being aimed at tackling economic hardships, particularly through measures to provide youth employment.  As that took time, counter-radicalization initiatives to identify and arrest the indoctrinators of youth and to prevent those most at risk from becoming terrorists were being implemented.  Kenya contributed to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to prevent that country from reverting to a refuge for Al-Shabaab.  However, there was an urgent need for air and marine support to AMISOM.

NKOLOI NKOLOI (Botswana), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said his delegation had been following with horror and disbelief the emergence of violent extremist groups and foreign terrorist fighters who had no regard for human life.  The recent spate of beheadings captured on video by those “savage” groups proved that no nation could single-handedly fight and root out organized terror.  However, the Secretary-General’s efforts to fight terrorism were encouraging, and he welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 2178 (2014).  He emphasized that all States must share information and experiences on any infiltration by armed militias and terrorist fighters on its shores.  As well, they should make it illegal for their nationals to join, sponsor or take part in activities of terrorist groups anywhere in the world.

Mr. ALBSOUL (Jordan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and OIC, expressed concern about the increase in terrorist acts in the Middle East, and the developed military and financial capability of terrorist groups that continued to perpetrate crimes against civilians.  Security Council resolutions that sought to counter terrorism were valued in that regard.  His Government had taken steps to fight terrorism, particularly through new provisions introduced into its laws, such as the penal code on terrorism and anti-money laundering.  In addition, steps were being taken to ensure that relevant entities were implementing Security Council resolutions effectively and in complete adherence.  His country had also criminalized acts of those who joined terrorist groups outside and in Jordan, and recruited individuals.

JEAN-FRANCIS R. ZINSOU (Benin), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, expressed support for Security Council resolutions 2178 (2014) and 2170 (2014), which along with the entire legal anti-terrorism arsenal, must be reinforced by a comprehensive convention on terrorism, and must be finalized.  Since 2013, Benin had been working to establish a police information system for West Africa, with support from the European Union, and was also an active participant in the struggle against Boko Haram.  He also stressed the need to eliminate financing for terrorism.  The rapid and coordinated implementation of all aspects of the Global Strategy for the Sahel must be deployed to build the capacity of people in the region to resist terrorists.  Further poverty, youth unemployment and other vulnerabilities that facilitated the recruitment of youth must be addressed.  To that end, peace and sustainable development should be pursued in a coordinated and coherent manner.

HENRY SUAREZ (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, recalled the recent Community summit meeting during which members reaffirmed that extradition was an essential tool in the fight against terrorism.  Bearing in mind the Extradition Treaty of 1922 with the United States and the provisions in the annex of General Assembly resolution 60/288, he reiterated his country’s request for the extradition of terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, whose terrorist act in 1976 caused the death of 73 innocent civilians.  Raul Diaz Pena, Jose Antonio Colina and German Rodolfo Valera, accused of and charged by the Venezuelan judiciary of carrying out terrorist acts, should also be extradited.  Calling attention to some States engaging in illegal practices that violated international law, he also said that the unilateral drafting of a list of countries that were allegedly linked to terrorism should be put to an end.

JEFFREY SALIM WAHEED (Maldives) said that terrorism could only be addressed by complementing implementation of universal instruments with regional and sub-regional activities.  His country was working regionally on capacity-building and technical cooperation, as well as participating in a regional financial action taskforce on money laundering.  It also was participating in bi-lateral exercises and training to combat terrorism.  National policies were in place to root out extremist ideologies, monitor threats and prosecute offenders.  A new anti-terrorism bill was being formulated in response to new and emerging threats.  International assistance was of paramount importance to a country like the Maldives, which had a vast geographical area to monitor.

INGA KANCHAVELI (Georgia) said her Government had signed and ratified universal, regional and bilateral counter-terrorism instruments, and implemented them into national policy and legislation.  As well, it had implemented relevant Security Council resolutions and recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force on financing terrorism, and had developed a coordination mechanism and a national strategy and action plan for combating terrorism financing.  Her country was a party to the 13 international counter-terrorism instruments and two Council of Europe counter-terrorism conventions, all of which had been implemented into national legislation.  In compliance with Security Council resolutions, a list of persons suspected of terrorist activities or being in relation with entities suspected of the same, was being maintained, which was regularly updated based on operative information, shared with relevant State structures, and regularly checked against the lists maintained under Security Council resolution 1267 (1999).  Recalling that 20 per cent of her nation’s territory remained under the Russian Federation’s illegal military occupation, she emphasized that when her Government was denied de facto control over its regions, the overall responsibility for the security situation rested solely with the State exercising the effective control.

DUNCAN LAKI MUHUMUZA (Uganda), associating himself with the African Group, OIC and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed support for convening a high-level conference to respond to terrorism.  Pointing out that his country had long been engaged in the fight against terrorism and had successfully routed the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), he said that the armed group continued to cause suffering in the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Terrorists must have no safe havens, and efforts must be stepped up in Somalia to build institutions that would prevent terrorist organizations from seeing that country as such.  Noting that recourse to justice was important in fighting terrorism, he said that suspects just recently arrested were now awaiting trial in Uganda.  Nonetheless, his country would not let down its guard on the military front.  He stressed unheeded appeals to stop toxic waste dumping in Somalia, as those sites could be turned into arsenals for the terrorists if they could recycle those materials to create weapons of mass destruction.  The responsible parties must be required to clean up their mess.

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia), associating himself with the European Union Delegation, condemned the recent terrorist acts and denounced all manifestations of that “evil”, regardless of its geography and motivations.  With catastrophic situations in Syria and the north of Iraq directly imperiling tens of thousands of Armenians of Aleppo, he reiterated the need to defend the Armenian population of Syria and Yezidi, and Christian communities in northwestern Iraq.  His country supported the recent Security Council resolutions 2133 (2014), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014).  Armenia had taken important steps in the fight against international terrorism, which included improvements to its border security, significant changes to exports control laws, and the holding of and actively participating in international anti-terrorism workshops and training courses.

Mr. GANBOLD (Mongolia) said that his country fully supported the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and its four pillars, and was a party to the majority of international counter-terrorism instruments.  It had also strengthened its counter-terrorism regime, notably through 2013 and 2014 legislative amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Law, the Law on Combating Money-Laundering and Terrorist Financing, the Criminal Code, and the Code of Criminal Procedure.  Moreover, he took note of the work of the Security Council Sanctions Committees and the efforts taken towards freezing the assets and blocking the financial transactions of terrorist organizations and individuals, and towards preventing the entry into or transit through territories of Member States by designated individuals.

Right of Reply

In exercise of the right of reply, a Russian Federation’s representative recalled that his country did not have effective control over the territories of which the Georgian delegation spoke.  That had nothing to do with occupation and did not reflect reality.  Those territories had their own individual security policy, as independent Governments and States, which they were carrying out individually and in accordance with their international obligations.

A representative of Georgia, in exercise of the right of reply, said it was not the first time that the Russian Federation had tried to justify its illegal activities.  The territorial sovereignty of Member States was a timeless principle enshrined in the United Nations Charter and numerous General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, which supported the territorial integrity of her country, and included [South Ossetia and Abkhazia] as integral parts of it.  She had voiced concern over those two regions because it was due to Russia that there was no international presence there.  Occupied forces were blocking access.  Her country was committed to international peace and security; a united Georgia would be a stronger partner in that endeavour.

Statements on the Rule of Law at National and International Levels

GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, said that maintaining balance was indispensable in developing national and international dimensions of the rule of law.  States should be encouraged to use tools established under international law, including the International Court of Justice, for peaceful resolution of conflicts.  All States should fulfil their obligations to promote, observe and protect human rights and freedoms for all in accordance with the Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant documents.  However, the application of unilateral measures was of concern, as they negatively impacted both the rule of law and international relations.

He also expressed concern at the Security Council’s encroachment on the functions and powers of the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council.  While the Organization must oversee the exercise of international law, it must not replace national law.  Rather it should enhance national capacity-building at the request of recipient Governments, taking into account national customs and realities in order to avoid imposing models that would inhibit resolving national problems.  Pointing out that there was no agreed definition of rule of law, the Rule of Law Unit must recognize that indicators were not acceptable if they had not been agreed upon by Member States.  Commending General Assembly resolution 67/19 that recognized the Non-Member Observer State of Palestine, he voiced support for its full membership in the United Nations.

KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), speaking for ASEAN, said that the inter-governmental regional organization attached great importance to enhancing the rule of law as it moved forward to realize the ASEAN Community by the end of 2015.  It was in the midst of developing and strengthening relevant national institutions and legal frameworks to fulfil ASEAN obligations and commitments under the United Nations Charter.  Many non-regional States had acceded, and were keen to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia as a code of conduct governing the relations between States.

To promote friendly relations among participating countries, the Declaration of the East Asia Summit on the Principles for Mutually Beneficial Relations had been adopted in 2011, she went on to say.  As well, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea had been adopted in 2002, and currently its Member States were expeditiously working towards the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.  It also had established an inter-governmental commission charged with the promotion and protection of human rights, and in 2012, ASEAN leaders had adopted a human rights declaration, which established a framework for human rights cooperation in the region.

THEMBILE ELPHUS JOYINI (South Africa), speaking for the African Group, stressed that the provision of legal aid was a concrete way in which access to justice and the rule of law could be strengthened.  Thus, Member States must provide legal aid to the poor and vulnerable.  Well-functioning justice institutions bound by the rule of law were critical to peace-building and consolidating development gains.  Also key was building Member States’ capacity, including through enhanced technical assistance.  Capacity building and rule of law activities should be anchored by two interrelated concepts in determining needs and priorities, namely effectiveness and local or national ownership.  The customs, political and socioeconomic realities, and laws of each recipient State must be taken into account.

He went on to note the various activities of the Rule of Law Unit under the guidance of Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, which aimed at bringing about better coherence and coordination in rule of law capacity building, both within the Organization and at the country level.  While the multifaceted application of the rule of law at the international and national levels had led to its consideration in different fora and committees within the United Nations, the Sixth Committee was the most suitable place to consider all aspects of the principle in the future, so as to ensure its coherent and continuous development.

LIZANNE ACHING (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and associating herself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed additional initiatives aimed at providing training and education in the area of international law, especially to developing countries.  An important aspect of that capacity building was undertaken through the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.  In that regard, she called for the strengthening of that Programme through funding from the regular budget, noting that the current situation, which was based on a system of voluntary contributions, had never been contemplated when the Programme began its operations, and was undermining its effectiveness.

She underscored CARICOM’s strong opposition to impunity, noting that member States’ legal systems also incorporated provisions relating to equality before the law.  Those were also buttressed by various international treaties and conventions that promoted the rule of law, of which CARICOM States were signatories.  As a region disproportionately affected by the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, it looked forward to the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty in December of this year.  Among others, it also looked forward to beginning work on an international instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, focusing on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.  As a group of countries from a region highly vulnerable to the unprecedented loss of marine biodiversity and the impact of unsustainable practices on the marine environment, it viewed the conclusion of a legally binding instrument to address those matters as inextricably linked to its pursuit of justice and fairness for all.

GEORGINA GUILLÉN-GRILLO (Costa Rica), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said the Community was founded on the peaceful settlement of disputes, respect for the self-determination of peoples under colonial domination and foreign occupation, non-intervention in the internal affairs of each country, and the rule of law at national and international levels, among other principles.  She underscored the importance of rejuvenating the General Assembly, strengthening the Economic and Social Council and reforming the Security Council, so that they would be more transparent and effective.  The reforming of the Bretton Woods institutions was also important.

She went on to say that the rule of law was essential for inclusive economic growth and sustainable development, to name a few.  The Outcome Document of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development had included “access to justice for all”, among its targets.  That document must be the basis for integrating those goals into the new development agenda, and should not be re-opened.  Pointing to the sub-topic for the Committee’s current session, “Sharing States’ national practices in strengthening the rule of law through access to justice”, she underscored the right of equal access to justice for all, including members of vulnerable groups.  It was of importance to raise awareness about legal rights, she said, affirming her commitment to take all necessary steps to provide fair, transparent, effective, non-discriminatory and accountable services that would promote that access, including legal aid.

GILLES MARHIC, associating himself with the European Union Delegation, said that the 2014-2020 European Union Justice Programme provided funding for schemes which aimed to create a truly European area of justice.  The European Union was also prioritizing rule of law issues in its relations with enlargement countries, including through structured dialogues and targeted financial support.  Mobile legal aid clinics and mobile courts, construction of new courthouses, increased awareness and accessible legal services in rural and remote areas, as well as publication of material with guidance for policy makers and practitioners, were significant tools towards people’s legal empowerment.  They must continue in a sustainable way, including through dialogue and various initiatives, such as the Conference organised in July by Italy as President of the Council of the European Union in collaboration with United Nations entities and the International Development Law Organization.

Through its financial instruments, the European Union was providing concrete rule of law assistance to many countries, particularly with access to justice, he went on to say.  The European Union Justice Support Programmes implemented in Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Philippines and Benin, among others, were complemented by multilateral and bilateral assistance provided by its member States.  In addition, many of the Union’s civilian crisis management operations also focused on the rule of law.  He called for stronger language on the rule of law to be included in the proposal of the Open Working Group for Sustainable Development Goals.  It would also be important for the General Assembly to consider ways in which linkages between the rule of law, human rights, peace and security, and development could be strengthened.

LIISA VALJENTO (Finland), speaking for the Nordic Countries, urged the United Nations to intensify efforts to promote norms, standards and understanding of the rule of law.  She called on Member States that had not yet done so to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.  As well, the Organization should strengthen its cooperation with the International Criminal Court.  The Justice Rapid Response, which offered high quality assistance to national Governments, was also of importance.  Strengthening the rule of law at the national and international levels could only be achieved through a comprehensive approach from the Organization and its Member States, she said, suggesting a follow-up to the recent High-level meeting that would promote a forward-looking strategy towards achieving common goals.

She further noted that the United Nations’ support for constitution drafting and legal reforms at country levels was crucial.  Access to justice would enable sustained economic growth and poverty reduction.  Furthermore, ensuring all persons access to a legal identity would be a first step in the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies and, in turn, would ensure access to justice for all.  She acknowledged the role of civil society in advancing the rule of law through raising awareness, fact finding and advocacy, facilitating dialog, and providing assistance to victims.  “We must make certain that our close cooperation with other stakeholders will continue in promoting the rule of law and access to justice,” she said.

Mr. SPRESOV (Belarus), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said rule of law was linked not only with sustainable development, but with any other important issue on the international agenda.  That link should not be used to politicize or erode the concept under the pretext of its cross-cutting character.  The rule of law should be achieved by having States fulfil their national obligations, while international organizations complied with their mandates.  His delegation had consistently spoken in favour of developing a clear and conceptual framework with an unambiguous definition of the term.  He also called for strict respect for clear distinctions of rule of law and related notions, such as human rights, access to justice and others outlined in the 2012 Declaration on the Rule of Law.  On access to justice, he highlighted the need to provide relevant assistance to States towards harmonizing best practices based on universal legal values, while taking into account the specificities of various national institutions.

JULIA O’BRIEN (Australia) said that her country, as an elected member of the Security Council, had advocated for sufficient authority, clarity and direction to be given to United Nations peacekeeping missions to carry out their rule of law mandates, and that such mandates be given appropriate priority within missions.  Successful rule of law interventions conducted with the host State could significantly reduce the likelihood of the outbreak or resumption of conflict, as well as crimes of mass atrocity.  In its region and elsewhere, she said her country was helping to build effective law and justice systems to increase the safety and security of communities, improve people’s access to justice, and address violence against women, stressing that national ownership and leadership were vital for the success of such initiatives.

TANIERIS DIEGUEZ LAO (Cuba), associating with the Non–Aligned Movement and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that genuine rule of law lay in a reformed United Nations.  Therefore, the pivotal role played by the General Assembly, as the sole body representing all Member States, must be strengthened.  In addition, reform of the Security Council should genuinely reflect the international community.  She did not support the statement in the report under consideration that the Council had made contributions to the rule of law, as the actions of the Council and several of its members had had the opposite effect.  Prohibition of the use of force and the non-interference in internal affairs of States must be observed.  Promoting and strengthening the rule of law started from recognizing the right of States to determine their own national legal and political systems, in keeping with their cultures.  Any attempt to undercut the issue of rule of law by claiming that it was a cross-cutting issue was to be rejected.  Furthermore, the report did not provide for proper balance between international and national rule of law, and she questioned on what parameters and on whose authority it would be determined which States had weak rule of law.  As well, she condemned and called for the immediate roll-back for the entire set of laws that made up the economic and trade embargo against Cuba for more than 50 years, urging the United States to abide by the numerous Assembly resolutions on the matter.

STEFAN BARRIGA (Liechtenstein) said that given the strong consensus on the importance of the core elements of the rule of law, it was surprising that Member States had not been able to agree on the inclusion of the term “rule of law” in the title of goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals; it was now only referred to “access to justice”.  The agreed sub-topic of the Committee’s debate this year dealt with “strengthening the rule of law through access to justice”.  He voiced hope that the conceptual incoherence could still be corrected in the course of the remaining work on the post-2015 development agenda.  While the International Criminal Court overall had struck the right balance in applying the principle, the international community must redouble its efforts to strengthen the capacity of domestic justice systems, especially since the Court could only try a small number of perpetrators, or may not have jurisdiction in the first place.

NATALIE MORRIS-SHARMA (Singapore), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the rule of law had been and would remain a cornerstone of her country’s stability.  Speaking on access to justice, she highlighted key components that had helped to strengthen the rule of law in Singapore, including that, under the country’s Constitution, all persons were equal before the law and were entitled to equal protection of the law.  Moreover, Singapore had an effective and well-functioning legal system, where laws were administered fairly and impartially, without fear or favour.  In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014, it had ranked first out of 148 countries in terms of the efficiency of its legal framework in settling disputes.  Finally, Singapore’s laws were fair and predictable, with the country embarking on a new project called “Plain Laws Understandable by Singaporeans” to improve accessibility.

LEE MOON-HEE (Republic of Korea) said that his country’s experience showed that implementation of the rule of law fostered economic and social development. In his country, access to justice rested on the principles of openness, transparency of legal systems and the responsiveness of judicial authorities.  That entailed providing access to information.  All court judgments and prosecutors’ decisions were publicly available; electronic litigation system was in place and information on national laws was accessible online and off.  The Republic of Korea also offered proactive and pro bono legal support, including free public attorneys, litigation aid and free legal counselling, among others, and promoted access to justice for the socially marginalized.

ANA CRISTINA RODRÍGUEZ PINEDA (Guatemala), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, emphasized that access to justice could not be measured in terms of numbers; standards of quality were also needed.  A high level of impunity in her country had undermined the rule of law.  However, cooperation with United Nations agencies had helped reduce its rate of impunity for murder in recent years.  Expressing concern over the increase in criticisms and questions with regard to the rule of law within the Organization, including its scope, purpose and relevance, she pointed out that any support to strengthen a State’s rule of law must take into account national ownership.  The main function of the Secretary-General was not to create an international mechanism that replaced national capacity, but to strengthen national capacity in the area of justice.  Her country’s experience was consistent with that.  Also, the Sixth Committee did not have a monopoly on the topic.  The rule of law was cross cutting and touched on the General Assembly’s work, as well as that of other United Nations bodies.

JOHN MUAMBA (Democratic Republic of the Congo), associating with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that certain obligations under the Follow-up Mechanism for Peace, Security and Cooperation for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region had been met, among them elections and establishing amnesty for acts of war.  Steps had also been taken for an overall reform of the justice system, notably with respect to its super structure, which had just led to the establishment of a Constitutional Court.  International assistance would be needed if the rule of law were to become a reality on the ground.  He expressed satisfaction that progress was being made on sexual violence and the recruitment of children, noting that several senior officers in the Eastern part of the country had been apprehended, tried and convicted of rape.

Mr. AL- KHATER (Qatar) said his country had sought to establish a clear national judiciary to guarantee the rule of law.  The Centre for the Rule of Law for Combatting Corruption in Doha cooperated with the United Nations, and relevant regional organizations towards disseminating, through seminars and workshops, respect for the rule of law.  On a national level, his country had consistently emphasized the need for separation between its three branches of Government. Efforts were also being made to ensure laws were in line with international conventions to which it was a signatory.  In addition, Qatar had contributed to the peaceful resolution of conflicts as part of its commitment to international cooperation and efforts of organizations in the Arab and African regions.

MOHAMMED ALI (Sudan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and African Group, said his country was making efforts to bring its laws into conformity with international standards.  The Charter formed a comprehensive basis at the national and international levels, and was far removed from interference in the internal affairs of States.  Non-interference was one of the best ways to avoid conflicts and promote the rule of law.  Efforts towards strengthening the principle must be based on consensus without a “one-size-fits-all” approach.  Sharing experiences regarding access to justice would show that no single model could be imposed.  The Secretary-General should focus on technical assistance and capacity-building.  That would help developing countries strengthen their rule of law capacities.  He urged support for fair and just regional and international arbitration tribunals.  If the international community was genuinely interested in promoting the rule of law, international justice must not be politicized.

SAMIRA A. ABUBAKAR (Libya), associating herself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that in spite of extraordinary circumstances faced by her country, strengthening the rule of law was one of its priorities, in addition to completion of State reconstruction.  The constituent body for the drafting of the Constitution had been elected and had started work in April this year.  It was expected that once that body finalized the draft, a referendum would take place in 2015.  It had held free and fair legislative elections in June this year, which had led to elections of the House of Representatives that represented Libyans of various political orientations.  It had also promulgated legislation that criminalized torture and discrimination and had enacted law on transitional justice and the treatment of victims of sexual violence, as well as counter terrorism law.  She commended the United Nations for providing technical assistance and assisting in capacity building efforts to give impulse to her country’s democratic transition.

KELEBONE A. MAOPE (Lesotho), associating his delegation with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that a global partnership was needed to enhance the capacity of developing countries to carry out their international obligations.  At the national level, Lesotho had made strides in strengthening the rule of law through a broad spectrum of legal and institutional frameworks safeguarding constitutional governance, and protecting human rights, particularly in the areas of sexual offences and gender equality, and children’s welfare, among others.  Apart from the ordinary courts, specialized courts had been established including commercial, labour, and children’s courts, as well as court martial and small claims courts.

MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the essence of the rule of law was access to justice, and the essence of access to justice was the legal empowerment of people so that they could enjoy their full civil, political, and social rights, among others.  Over the years, his country had made efforts towards its judicial system being more accessible and responsive, including speedy and inexpensive justice, a culture of accountability, and elimination of corruption.  The Government was also focused on developing new laws, strengthening and expanding the network of judicial institutions, increasing the number of judicial officers, and building the capacity of police, prosecutors and judges.  In addition, measures were being made to make justice accessible to the most vulnerable and marginalized segments of society.  Pakistan now had an independent judiciary, free media, and a vibrant civil society.  The Pakistan Law Commission had been entrusted to review all existing laws, and recommended the repeal of outdated laws and amendment of laws in light of new requirements or developments.

MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ BLANCO (Colombia), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that the peace process following five decades of war was one of its most important legal activities.  Colombia was currently implementing initiatives with the United Nations country team.  Committed to truth, justice and reparations, his Government had instituted laws providing for the social reintegration of armed fighters, and on reparations for victims of armed conflicts.  In international situations, he said it was important to take into consideration the specific situations of States in formulating law, so as to avoid imposing inappropriate models.  Towards promoting the rule of law, the links between the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and Security Council should be strengthened.

JIM MCLAY (New Zealand) said that in his country a number of initiatives were strengthening access to justice in its communities.  New Zealand also supported promotion of the rule of law in its region and beyond, primarily through assistance and capacity-building initiatives.  Such actions supported its partners’ efforts to build effective law enforcement agencies, ensuring access to legal representation and creating independent and competent judiciaries, which reflected their own national needs and circumstances.  In addition, New Zealand supported the Pacific region with sitting judicial officers where needed, and provided electoral observers both in the Pacific and beyond.  His country had sent observers to the elections in Fiji last month and, under the leadership of Timor Leste, to the elections in Guinea-Bissau in 2013.

DAMARIS CARNAL (Switzerland) underscored that it was important to strengthen international judicial bodies, particularly the International Court of Justice. The governance of the United Nations must also be strengthened to improve its credibility, influence and effectiveness.  Therefore, all its bodies should comply with the principles of the rule of law.  Switzerland was committed to an improvement in the Security Council’s working methods and increased observance of procedural safeguards in its sanctions system.  In addition, she welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendation to conduct, on a regular basis, a full and thorough review of the rule of law and its linkages with the three main pillars of the Organization.

MAXIM V. MUSIKHIN (Russian Federation) said that, despite the Secretary-General’s annual report, the topic had not received attention or resources, including strengthening financial allocations for the Programme of Assistance.  As a result, planned regional courses had been cancelled each year.  The Library of Audio Visual Materials was in a similar financial situation.  On the other hand, United Nations structures on rule of law at the national level had not experienced that type of lack of funding.  The problem was not in the concept of the rule of law, as his country had always spoken in favour of strengthening the international and national order.  Rather, he noted attempts to use indicators or measurements of compliance or commitments to bring all States under a single universal model, when the choice of model or system of governance should be an internal matter for States.  The Sixth Committee was the most appropriate forum to discuss the topic of the rule of law.  That format made it possible to avoid unnecessary politicization and to focus on issues of law.  In further work on the rule of law, he said it would be useful to reflect on not using a cookie cutter approach in national measurement of the rule of law, and to highlight the prerogative of States in developing an effective model of rule of law.

Slawomir Majszyk (Poland) said his country had been taking measures to ensure efficient functioning of its judicial system, consisting mostly of increasing the efficiency of criminal proceedings, accelerating and simplifying civil proceedings, and enhancing the protection of child victims of crime and of victims of sexual crime and human trafficking.  Moreover, he acknowledged the importance of providing legal assistance to people living in poverty.  In that context, it was crucial to ensure the actual implementation of the principle of equality before courts, and to provide access to free legal assistance during both court and extra-judicial procedures.  Over the past few years, the Ministry of Justice had been implementing a project, “Improving public access to justice”, which had provided for, among others, opportunities for broad access to information about law, educational campaigns for young people and students, improvements in the quality of service for the parties at courts, and expanding alternative methods of dispute resolution.

HIROSHI ISHIKAWA (Japan) said that rule of law was a pillar of Japan’s diplomatic policy, consisting of the progressive development of international law and its codification, as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes by fair and impartial application of international law.  To that end, he noted that Japan had accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, and expressed the hope that those States who had not done so would reconsider.  His Government had also supported the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the International Criminal Court and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, both financially and by providing to those courts competent judges.  In addition, regional frameworks played a crucial role in promoting the rule of law, to which Japan gave support.  Japan had also provided support at the national level, especially in the countries of Asia and the Pacific.

HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said the rule of law in his country was guaranteed in the Constitution, as well as in federal and State laws.  Access to justice was also enshrined in that document, and was further exemplified by the role of the country’s Attorney General as the public prosecutor, who exercised his power to protect the interest of the public and the rule of law.  The independence of the judiciary was also guaranteed in the Constitution.  Furthermore, his country had taken legal reforms to uphold the principle of the rule of law through access to justice by conferring the right to legal representation to its citizens.  The National Legal Aid provided free legal assistance to those unable to afford legal fees.  As well, the Legal Aid Department provided legal assistance, as did the Malaysian Bar Council.  His country had also introduced mobile courts in remote areas and established several tribunals that dealt with home buyer or consumer claims.

For information media. Not an official record.