I thank the presidency for taking forward this important matter under its presidency and holding this debate open to the participation of the wider membership.
The focus of this debate is on the rule of law in the context of conflict and post-conflict situations: clearly a crucial matter for the Council to consider and develop. The rule of law is today an indispensable component of any successful strategy on UN peace keeping and peace building, so the Council has to deepen its reflection on the issue in particular when drawing Mission’s mandates, so as to respond more effectively to the needs on the ground.
I thank also the SG for his presentation here today as well as for his comprehensive report which illustrates many important aspects that will help guide the Council’s work on this topic in a more oriented way. The report covers a lot of ground but, due to the time constraints, I will touch upon the following 5 issues, which we would like to highlight in this context.
My first point is on International Tribunals: – one can never overemphasize the role these Tribunals play in ensuring and promoting the rule of law. First and foremost the ICJ, whose role is undisputable, be it in conflict resolution or prevention. This essential tool could be used more often to the advantage of the international community. It would therefore be important for more States to accept its compulsory jurisdiction. We thus encourage States that have not yet done so, to ponder accepting it.
But in the recent history of the UN other international tribunals have come to existence. These already carry an impressive record in the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes. International tribunals, including Ad hoc international tribunals, mixed tribunals, as well as specialized chambers in national tribunals have all played an important role in administering international justice. They have developed a set of international standards of justice which have strengthened their authority and consolidated an important area of international jurisprudence. Their influence is felt also in domestic jurisdictions. Indeed the role of these tribunals in building and promoting the rule of law at the national level, including through the application of the principles of complementarity with national jurisdictions, is worth to be noted. Very soon, the residual mechanism established by the Council over one year ago will start its work absorbing an important functional legacy of the ICTR and ICTY, which represents an important part of the rule of law international building.
The ICC builds on these steps and has now a unique role to play not only on behalf of the 120 states that are parties to the Rome Statute, but also of the international community as a whole. The situations in Darfur and in Libya, which the Council decided to refer to the ICC, are proof of that. Cooperation with the Court is thus crucial to achieve the goals of justice and fighting impunity, which are parts and parcels of sustainable peace.
My second point relates to the rule of law as a crucial component in the mandates established by the Council. Rule of law is fundamental to sustainable peace and development and the Council should address these needs when drawing mandates and planning the missions, as well as at an early stage of transition of peace keeping to peace building. And we should make sure that the necessary means are made available in due time, which requires careful UN planning. Furthermore, there should be an evaluation of the results of the work undertaken by the UN on the rule of law in the field. Bearing in mind the importance of rule of law in prevention of conflicts and sustainable peace and development the Council should follow this work closely and support initiatives to further strengthen and coordinate relevant UN activities, such as the development of indicators.
My third point relates to transnational organized crime. This is a matter with undeniable relevance to the topic we address today. Conflict and post conflict situations offer fertile ground for organized crime, which today, with the international networks and inter-linkage of different criminal activities, represents a real threat to peace and security. Piracy off the coast of Somalia, with its impact not only domestically on the Somali society but also at international level, provides some hard evidence of this link. Only through strong legal systems, appropriate legislations, effective judicial machinery and international cooperation can these threats be fought. For countries debilitated by conflict, easily permeated by such criminal activities, the only viable option is the assistance of the international community. We welcome the Council’s awareness of this by calling for long term capacity building efforts by the UN in affected countries, including through regional initiatives and for a strengthened UN coordination.
My fourth point concerns the situation of those most vulnerable to the impact of conflicts and post conflict situations. An effective response has to address the particular needs of those, such as women and children, which are not only more vulnerable but also so often targeted and used as soldiers or as instruments of war – such is the case with sexual and gender based violence. Rule of law tools are also fundamental in this regard. Means to fight impunity for these crimes have to be strengthened, including in UN mandates, through their components on protection of civilians. Moreover, legal systems have to be capable of addressing the special situation and needs of women and children, particularly in societies traumatized by conflict, including through special legislation and appropriate programmes of assistance and by abolishing laws and practices that discriminate against women and pose obstacles to their full and equal participation.
A final word about amnesties. Our steadfast support to the ICC is firmly anchored in the belief that there can be no impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern all of us. We therefore fully support the United Nations policy, reiterated in the Secretary-General’s report, of rejecting any endorsement of amnesty for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, or gross violations of human rights.