New York

27 September 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at the Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Cooperation for the Rule of Law at the International Level

I am pleased to attend this Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. I commend the Islamic Republic of Iran for its leadership, and for bringing us together today.

I welcome your decision to discuss the rule of law at the international level.

Last year, I was honoured to attend the Sixteenth Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran.  You called for a balance in developing the national and international dimensions of the rule of law. And you stressed the need for greater attention to the rule of law at the international level.

The Non-Aligned Movement has taken important steps forward in this discussion. I am grateful that many of you personally attended our High-Level Meeting on the Rule of Law at this time last year. I appreciate your contributions to the powerful Political Declaration leaders adopted.

The Declaration recognized that the rule of law has a cross-cutting impact on peace and security, development and human rights. For years, the Non-Aligned Movement has stressed the indivisibility of these three pillars of the United Nations. The Declaration also forged a balance between the importance of the rule of law at the national and international levels.  This is a tribute to the work of the NAM.

Today’s meeting is an important opportunity to ensure that while we call on States to uphold the rule of law domestically, we do the same in our international relations. The imperative of democracy and equality should hold true within and among countries.

In these turbulent times, the United Nations Charter must guide all of our efforts to keep peace between our nations.  Article 33 gives us a range of rule of law tools for the pacific settlement of disputes. NAM countries and the United Nations have used these tools to achieve meaningful results. We have used commissions of inquiry, good offices and special envoys to initiate dialogue and pave the way for mediation. This has saved countless lives.

For decades, the NAM has affirmed the primary importance of human rights. All States must respect the wider body of international law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and human rights treaties.  International humanitarian law safeguards the protection of innocent civilians in all conflicts.  It is a cornerstone of our common humanity.  We must hold accountable all those responsible for serious breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court has been widely ratified to ensure this accountability. 

Upholding the rule of law at the international level is our collective responsibility. 

The rule of law at the international level is not limited to relations among States. It must also guide our international structures.  We must ensure that the rule of law is respected within the United Nations and in other international institutions.

The United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement have enjoyed a history of close ties over the past fifty years.  Our relationship has been based on our joint defence of common principles, and our joint pursuit of common goals. 

I pledge to strengthen this partnership even more in the years to come. You can count on me to advocate for our shared objectives. Together, we can strengthen the rule of law and, in the process, promote peace, development and human rights.

Thank you.