Thank you, Mr. President and thank you for your presence here today and for organizing this debate on the vitally important issue of the rule of law. We also thank the Secretary-General for his valuable comments.
Mr. President, respect for the rule of law is critical for the establishment of stable, secure, and democratic post-conflict societies. But it takes hard work, sustained over a long period of time, to build a culture of respect for the rule of law in a post-conflict context. And it takes the support of the international community. As a result, it is important for us to consider what tools the United Nations can use to help foster the rule of law in nations emerging from conflict.
In the wake of conflict, UN involvement often comes in the form of peacekeeping operations. And peacekeeping operations are particularly well positioned to spearhead the strengthening of rule of law institutions. Peacekeeping missions should always include rule of law experts who can serve on the front lines of supporting national justice and accountability efforts.
For example, the UN Mission in Cote d’Ivoire assisted the government after conflict in restoring civilian policing presence throughout the country, and restructuring the internal security services. It also supported the Ministry of the Interior and Security in developing draft laws and regulations on the organizational structure, jurisdiction and functioning of the national police. As part of this, with the UN Country Team, UNOCI provided training to some 500 members of the national security forces on the protection of civilians. Meanwhile, in Haiti, MINUSTAH’s investment in the Haitian National Police as part of a broad effort to promote the rule of law has reduced Haiti’s reliance on international military forces to provide day-to-day security.
Against this backdrop, peacekeeping missions can also play an important role in supporting national and international efforts to bring to justice those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, including through support for apprehension of fugitives.
In addition to peacekeeping, UN development programs have made significant contributions to the rule of law. For example, the UNDP rule of law program in Darfur raises awareness of human rights and the rule of law. It works with local leaders, organizations and authorities to help end violations of international human rights law. The goal is to restore people’s confidence in both rule of law institutions and to gradually build a culture of rule of law and justice in the region.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN has assisted in the creation of mobile courts that have helped the country’s justice system tackle the challenge of sexual and gender-based violence in the conflict-ridden east.
While it is important to consider the individual tools that are available, it is also important that the UN’s rule of law activities take a holistic, integrated and balanced approach. The Secretary-General’s institutional reforms in this respect are especially welcome. The strategic role of the Rule of Law Coordination and Resources Group chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General and the UN’s Global Focal Point arrangement on the rule of law – where the Department of Peacekeeping Operations works with the UN Development Program – could help enhance coordination and lead to concrete results on the ground. We are encouraged that these UN entities are joining forces to develop and implement common police, justice and corrections programs. We hope that these efforts will remove the disconnect that sometimes exists between New York and the field. In this context, we understand that the Global Focal Point is now coordinating on rule of law issues in Mali and look forward to the outcome of this work.
Ultimately, national ownership is essential in successfully advancing the rule of law. Governments, at all levels, must buy into the core tenets of the rule of law. This includes the central principle that governments are accountable to the law and that no person is above the law. Only through a commitment to the rule of law at the highest levels, can rule of law permeate through all levels of society.
Mr. President, let me reiterate that we strongly support the United Nations doing its part in promoting the rule of law, and encourage it to foster a culture of accountability in all of its work. Thank you.
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