High Level Meeting on the Rule of Law: Statement by Security Council President Westerwelle
(Statement delivered by Dr. Guido Westerwelle, Foreign Minister of Germany, in his capacity as President of the Security Council at the "High Level Meeting on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels")
"Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor to address this August assembly, on behalf of the Security Council, at its first ever plenary meeting devoted exclusively to the rule of law. Today’s meeting and the representation of states at the highest level attest to the international community’s firm commitment to the rule of law. Let me therefore pay tribute to the General Assembly which has set the normative framework on which we all base our common efforts, and to express the Council’s appreciation to you, Mr. Secretary-General, for your activities in promoting both the peaceful settlement of disputes and the rule of law.
Today, the rule of law is an important concept in the work of the Security Council. Since 2003, the Council has held several thematic debates on the rule of law in the context of international peace and security, and several Presidential Statements have recognized the crucial relevance of the rule of law across the full spectrum of the Council’s agenda. Thematic and country-specific resolutions adopted by the Council since 2003 have regularly addressed issues related to the rule of law, both in its international and national dimensions.
As a principal organ of the United Nations, the Security Council remains firmly committed to the Charter of the United Nations and international law as indispensable foundations of a more peaceful, prosperous and just world.
The Council attaches vital importance to universal adherence to and implementation of the rule of law. The promotion of justice and the rule of law are essential for peace, prevention of armed conflict and cooperation among states. The Council is convinced that international law plays a critical role in fostering stability and order in international relations. International law also provides a framework for addressing common challenges, and thereby contributes to the maintenance of international peace and security.
The Security Council is committed to and actively supports the peaceful settlement of disputes. It has consistently called upon Member States to settle their disputes by peaceful means as set forth in Chapter VI of the Charter. The International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, plays a key role in adjudicating disputes among states. Let me therefore call upon all states that have not yet done so to consider accepting the jurisdiction of the Court in accordance with its Statute.
Sustainable peace requires an integrated and coherent approach. In this regard, rule of law is one of the key elements of conflict prevention and peacekeeping, as well as of conflict resolution and peace building. This is why the Security Council has included support for the rule of law in the mandates of many peacekeeping and special political missions worldwide.
The Security Council is committed to ensure that all UN efforts to restore peace and security themselves respect and promote the rule of law. Especially after the end of peacekeeping and other relevant missions, a coordinated approach among all parts of the UN system must include capacity building support to assist national authorities to uphold the rule of law. In this context, the Council has recognized the importance of national ownership in rule of law assistance activities, including the strengthening of accessible and responsive justice and security institutions.
The Security Council remains strongly opposed to impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law. States must therefore comply with their relevant obligations to end impunity. They must thoroughly investigate and prosecute persons who are responsible for war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity or other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Those who are responsible for sexual and other violations against women and girls must be held accountable. It is only through these means that violations can be prevented, their recurrence be avoided, and sustainable peace, justice, truth and reconciliation be achieved.
The Council has repeatedly noted the contribution of the International Criminal Court, of ad hoc and mixed tribunals, as well as of chambers in national tribunals to the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. And it has reiterated the importance of State cooperation with these Courts and Tribunals in accordance with the States’ respective obligations.
The Security Council has expressed concern about the threat posed by transnational organised crime and drug trafficking to international security in different regions of the world. It has called for coordinated action by the United Nations and its Member States to fight these threats by implementing national and international applicable norms, through long-term capacity-building efforts, and regional initiatives.
Sanctions remain an important tool in the maintenance and restoration of international peace and security. The Council has stressed the need to ensure that Sanctions are carefully targeted in support of clear objectives and designed carefully so as to minimize possible adverse consequences, and are implemented by Member States. The Council is committed to fair and clear procedures for placing individuals and entities on sanctions lists and for removing them, as well as for granting humanitarian exemptions.
Today’s debate represents a milestone in the promotion of the rule of law through the United Nations. The Security Council remains fully committed to contributing its share in strengthening the rule of law at both the national and international level. Both are inherently linked, for every nation that proclaims the rule of law at home must respect it abroad, and every nation that insists on it abroad must enforce it at home.
I thank you."