New York

19 February 2014

Secretary-General's remarks to the Security Council Open Debate on the Promotion and Strengthening of the Rule of Law and the Maintenance of International Peace and Security

I thank the government of Lithuania for organizing this important debate.

The rule of law is at the heart of our work at the United Nations. 

It is intrinsically linked to peace and security. When public institutions fail to deliver justice or protect the people’s rights, insecurity and conflict prevail.

At the national level, reconciliation and enduring peace require strong rule of law through responsive and inclusive institutions.  People must be able to trust that their institutions can resolve disputes promptly and fairly, and provide equitable access to basic services, including justice and security. 

At the international level, adherence to the rule of law is critical for conflict prevention and the peaceful resolution of disputes.  Mechanisms to combat impunity and ensure accountability -- including UN-assisted criminal tribunals -- reinforce the primacy of law.

That is why strengthening the rule of law is now an integral part of the mandates of peacekeeping operations and special political missions.  Today, 18 Missions around the world currently mandate rule of law support.

We are providing national authorities with wide-ranging support -- from constitution-making to strengthening police, justice and corrections institutions … from anti-corruption efforts to those ensuring justice and accountability for gender-based crimes. 

I have designated DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] and UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] -- working with OHCHR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights], UNODC [United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime], UN Women [United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women] and other partners -- as the Global Focal Point for police, justice and corrections. 

This new Global Focal Point arrangement has already assisted our efforts from Mali to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Haiti and beyond, strengthening our ability to “deliver as one”, effectively and coherently.

I encourage Members of the Council and other Member States and regional organizations to support the Global Focal Point and work with the UN to ensure long-term development of national rule of law institutions.

The crafting of peacekeeping and peacebuilding mandates provides a strategic opportunity to support national priorities in this area.

Along with the police and military elements, mandates for new missions should include justice and corrections.  This will help extend the State authority and lay the foundation for longer-term institution building.

These mandates should be guided by several important points.  Let me briefly highlight four points.

First, mandates should reflect the specific challenges of a country and identify priority areas of support.  This will enhance the effectiveness and gender responsiveness of our rule of law work.  It also helps guide programming and serves as a basis for dialogue with national authorities. 

Second, sequencing or establishing phases for the implementation of the different components of assistance is vital.  Promptly addressing people’s immediate security and protection needs is crucial to laying the groundwork for the long-term success of institutions and processes.

Third, given limited human and financial resources, a gradual or progressive implementation strategy may be the most effective in transitioning from peacekeeping to long-term development assistance.  This requires early collaboration between the missions and the country teams.

Fourth, assessing progress is essential to making policy decisions supported by evidence and responsive to particular needs.  The Security Council has made important inroads to promote monitoring and evaluation of UN rule of law assistance.  Specific and sequenced mandates, which include data collection and evaluation capacities, would further support these efforts. As I noted in my Report to the Council of 11 June last year, the Organization must nurture and strengthen a culture of evaluation. 

Mr. President,  Distinguished Council Members,

I am encouraged by the Council’s continued commitment to ensuring that we make the most and the best of rule of law assistance in peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions.

I greatly appreciate your discussion today.  Thank you.