Security Councill Calls on Member States to Help Enhance UN Role in Establishing Justice, Role of Law in Post-conflict States
Secretary-General Hopes for New Commitment by Council to Place Those Issues at Heart of Work Rebuilding War-Torn Countries
NEW YORK, 24 September (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this morning invited all Member States to contribute to enhancing the United Nations role in establishing justice and the rule of law in post-conflict societies, after hearing Secretary-General Kofi Annan express his hope for a new commitment by the Council to place those issues at the heart of its work in rebuilding war-torn countries.
At a ministerial-level meeting, the Council, through a statement read by its President, Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, also described an abundant wealth of expertise on the matter within the Organization and expressed a determination to harness it, beginning with an open meeting to be convened on 30 September 2003. It also welcomed an offer from the Secretary-General to provide a report to guide further consideration.
In his statement, the Secretary-General said the United Nations, through many complex operations, had learned that the rule of law was not a luxury and that justice was not a side issue. People had lost faith in a peace process because they did not feel safe from crime, or resorted to violence because there was no credible machinery to enforce the law. We have learned that the rule of law delayed is lasting peace denied, and that justice is a handmaiden of true peace, he said.
He said a comprehensive approach to re-establishing justice and the rule of law in post-conflict societies was still needed, encompassing the entire criminal justice chain, not only police, but lawyers, prosecutors, judges and prison officers, as well as many issues beyond the criminal justice system. To do that, better coordination between agencies was needed, he said, as well as early, adequate and coordinated funding. Highly qualified, quickly deployable personnel of both genders were also essential.
Since a one-size-fits-all approach would not work, it was also crucial to involve local actors from all sectors of any post-conflict country in re-establishing the rule of law. Existing institutions should be reinforced rather than replaced, with the aim of leaving behind strong local institutions at the end of international efforts. Liberia, he said, would be a test case for such recommendations. The Council had incorporated important rule of law components in authorizing the deployment of the United Nations Mission in that country.
Regarding justice for victims of past crimes, he said that the culture of impunity must be ended, but that the process of achieving justice for victims might take years, and it must not come at the expense of the need to establish the rule of law on the ground. National reconciliation was just as important. Each society had to strike the right balance between justice and national conciliation. However, in doing so, there should be no amnesties for war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity or other serious violations of international human rights, while the rights of the accused should be scrupulously protected.
In the ministerial-level discussion that followed, all the speakers affirmed the importance of the topic in relation to peacekeeping, the protection of civilians in armed conflict and international criminal justice. Many speakers underscored the need to balance justice with reconciliation, as well as balancing other conflicting dualities. Dominique de Villepin, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, for example, said that criminals of the deposed Iraqi regime would have to answer for their crimes, but it was equally imperative to restore Iraqi sovereignty to do so, with the assistance of the United Nations.
Most speakers stressed the relationship between the respect for the rule of law in particular situations and international law as a whole, including the system of collective security. Most also saw the International Criminal Court as a step forward. The representative of the United States, however, said that his country, founded on the basis of the rule of law, did not enter into legally binding treaties lightly, even as it strongly supported international tribunals in many situations.
Other speakers, such as Farouk Al-Shara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, emphasized the need for avoiding double standards in the application of international law. François Lonseny Fall, Foreign Minister of Guinea, spoke of the relationship between economic factors and the rule of law in developing countries.
The Foreign Ministers of Pakistan, Russian Federation, China, Mexico, Bulgaria, Spain and Chile also spoke. Statements were also made by the representatives of Cameroon, Germany and Angola.
The meeting, which began at 9:15 a.m., adjourned at 11:40 a.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider a new agenda item, Justice and the Rule of Law: the United Nations Role.
The President of the Council, JACK STRAW, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said in introductory remarks that justice and the rule of law were essential elements in creating stable, peaceful and democratic States. The United Nations and the Council had long wrestled with post-conflict situations and the United Nations family had much expertise in the area of establishing the rule of law. He hoped the debate today would be the start of a process. On 30 September, the Council would address the issue in an open Council meeting, he said, to be followed up by further meetings within the United Nations family.
KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that the Council had a heavy responsibility to promote justice and the rule of law in rebuilding shattered societies. Through many complex operations, the United Nations had learned that the rule of law was not a luxury, and that justice was not a side issue. People have lost faith in peace processes because they did not feel safe from crime. Without credible machinery to enforce the law, people had resorted to violent or illegal activities.
In addressing those issues, sensitive questions of sovereignty, of tradition and security, of justice and reconciliation were involved, he said. For that reason, the international community had to facilitate the implementation of a national agenda for each situation, building a wide constituency for the process.
Last years report of the Task Force on the Rule of Law in Peace Operations, he said, showed the breadth of United Nations experience and expertise in the field. But, it also demonstrated that a comprehensive approach to justice and the rule of law must be taken - one that encompassed the entire criminal justice chain; not just police, but lawyers, prosecutors, judges and prison officers, as well as many issues beyond the criminal justice system.
To do that, better coordination between agencies was needed, he said, as well as early, adequate and coordinated funding. High-quality, quickly deployable personnel of both genders were also needed, covering all areas of expertise.
All United Nations action in the area, he said, must be based on Charter principles and those of international law. But a one-size-fits-all approach would not work. Local actors must be involved from the start. They should be guided, rather than directed and existing institutions should be reinforced, rather than replaced. The aim must be to leave behind strong local institutions at the end of international efforts.
Have we taken these lessons to heart? he asked. Liberia, he said, would be a test case for such recommendations. The Council had incorporated important rule of law components in authorizing the deployment of the United Nations Mission in Liberia.
Regarding justice for victims of past crimes, he said that the culture of impunity must be ended, but the process of achieving justice for victims might take many years, and it must not come at the expense of the need to establish the rule of law on the ground. Each society had to strike the right balance between justice and national reconciliation. However, in doing so, there should be no amnesties for war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity or other serious violations of international human rights, while the rights of the accused should be scrupulously protected.
There cannot be real peace without justice, he said. Yet, the relentless pursuit of justice may sometimes be an obstacle to peace, and it might make it impossible to stop the bloodshed and save innocent lives. But equally, if the demands of justice were ignored simply to secure agreement, the foundations of such agreements would be fragile and set bad precedents. There were no easy answers to such moral, legal and philosophical dilemmas. At times, something less than perfect justice may be called for.
We have learned that the rule of law delayed is lasting peace denied, and that justice is a handmaiden of true peace, he said. He hoped todays meeting heralded a new commitment from the Council to place issues of justice and the rule of law at the heart of its work in rebuilding war-torn countries.
KHURSHID M. KASURI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, said establishing the principles of justice and the rule of law was essential for the establishment and maintenance of order at the inter-State and intra-State level. Situations posing a threat to international peace and security must be dealt with by the United Nations, primarily the Council. In particular, the use of force should be consistent with the Charters principles relating to collective security. Council resolutions and decisions must be implemented without discrimination and also with equal force irrespective of their falling within Chapter VI or Chapter VII. Selective implementation created an unjust environment and eroded confidence in the system.
He said consistent application of international human rights and humanitarian law must also be ensured. The international community had set new standards in dealing with violators of international humanitarian law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those standards must be applied equally to other conflict situations, especially where people were under occupation and alien domination. The situation in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir was a case in point, calling for the urgent attention of the international community. Over the past 13 years, more than 80,000 Kashmiris had been killed by Indian security forces, and there were innumerable cases of torture, rape and extrajudicial killings. Justice for the people of occupied Kashmir required an end to impunity for those crimes, and their closure through the realization of their Council-mandated right of self-determination.
Justice and the rule of law paid a crucial role in societies emerging from conflict, he said. In that context, financing of the reconstruction process was a critical area where much more needed to be done. Generous international assistance and expertise should not only be committed, but also fully delivered, to create a new legal and constitutional framework in post-conflict societies, a new security and judicial structure, and in refurbishing law enforcement capacities. The desired objectives in conflict and post-conflict situations could be significantly advanced with greater coordination within the United Nations system, in particular among the Council and the Economic and Social Council, and taking into account International Court of Justice judgments and advisory opinions. Consideration should be given to the creation of a separate unit to assist post-conflict States in the reconstruction of their judicial systems.
IGOR IVANOV, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, said that ensuring the rule of law and justice was essential in settling regional conflicts. That issue was related, in turn, to the more general problem of the rule of law in international relations. Without asserting the primacy of that rule of law, relentless problems ensued.
All members of the international community, he said, irrespective of their might, must realize that their individual interests were not achievable without the realization of collective interest, which was represented by the United Nations Security Council. In addition, he said, there was a need to strengthen the legal principle of peacekeeping to replace unilateral action in crises around the world. For that reason, the peacekeeping component should be combined with the development and humanitarian structures of the United Nations system, including justice and law enforcement.
Reconstruction of judicial structures, he said, must be aimed at transference of such bodies to national control in an orderly fashion. That had happened in Bosnia and elsewhere, and was on the agenda in Afghanistan and Iraq. It should always be done under the auspices of the Security Council. Punishment of those accused of crimes against humanity should be done through special tribunals or the International Criminal Court. Russia hoped that todays meeting would help to strengthen the rule of law in international affairs.
DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, Foreign Minister of France, said that the defence of justice and the rule of law were central to the United Nations mission of peace; restoring peace did not just mean silencing the weapons of war through the use of force. He paid tribute to the whole range of staff dedicated to such issues, particularly to Sergio Vieira de Mello.
Challenges in the area, he said, included avoiding the imposition of values rather than providing models and ensuring that justice and the virtues of peace prevailed wherever crime and arbitrariness had sown terror and hate. The International Criminal Court represented a major step forward, having the advantage of permanency and universality. In addition, truth and reconciliation commissions could be a useful instrument to encourage coexistence between neighbouring, but currently hostile communities.
Iraq, he said, presented a major challenge and its stabilization would require more than soldiers and money. The criminals of the deposed regime would have to answer for their crimes, but it was equally imperative to restore Iraqi sovereignty. Only the Iraqi people would be able to find the new internal balance it needed, and for that it must be able to count on the solidarity and assistance of the international community embodied in the United Nations.
In all situations, to ensure justice and the rule of law, all parts of the United Nations system, along regional and financial organizations, must be coordinated in the effort. The Security Council had an essential role, he said, and he urged that the assessments made and lessons learned be incorporated to strengthen that role. France, he said, was prepared to take its full part in a mobilization toward that end.
LI ZHAOXING, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said guaranteeing an early restoration of the judicial system and rule of law in order to uphold justice and protect human rights had become a necessary condition for post-conflict stability and development. He, therefore, supported an active role in that regard for the United Nations, in accordance with the needs and actual conditions of the countries concerned. In addition to justice and rule of law, a broadly representative government should be established as soon as possible, to help bring about national reconciliation. A sound security environment should be created expeditiously and a programme of disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration should be carried out without delay.
He said the end of a conflict did not necessarily mean the arrival of peace. More often than not, causes of conflict had a great deal to do with poverty and backwardness. Without development, justice and the rule of law could only be a mirage. It was a source of concern that some countries and regions, having freed themselves from conflicts, had been bogged down once again in a state of helplessness in the face of economic globalization. The United Nations and the international community needed to provide effective assistance to help them take on the challenges of globalization and achieve sustainable development.
International relations also needed the rule of law, he continued. In order to bring about a world of peace, stability, justice and the rule of law, closer international cooperation, a multilateral approach and democracy were needed. The United Nations Charter and other norms governing international relations must be respected and maintained in earnest. Our goal is to build a better global village, where there are no wars or conflicts, as all countries live in peace and stability; where there is no poverty or hunger, as all citizens enjoy development and dignity; and where there is no discrimination or prejudice and all peoples and civilizations coexist in harmony, he concluded.
LUIS ERNESTO DERBEZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said his country had always favoured the strengthening of the rule of law. Over the past years, increased thinking had been devoted regarding the reform of the Organization. The current meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the way in which different provisions of the Charter had been applied. A tendency had emerged in which the focus of the Council had shifted from maintaining international peace and security to combating impunity. Under what modalities and circumstances should the Council take action? he asked. For the sake of justice and the rule of law, the Council must continue acting on the basis of legality. There was a need for more intensive use of Article 33 of the Charter.
He said there were no provisions authorizing the delegation of Council powers to a State. The Council however, had done so through mandating multinational forces and through reliance on support of regional organizations. The Council should promote greater clarity and transparency on those matters. General Assembly analysis of Council actions might be desirable. Greater compliance with Council resolutions was also necessary. The work of the Council in post-conflict situations should have two goals: reconstruction; and national reconciliation. Strengthening coordination between the Council and other organs of the system was, therefore, desirable. Institutions were needed to prosecute crimes against humanity.
The International Criminal Court guaranteed objectivity in trials against defendants in that regard, he said. During the stage of transition towards independent judicial organs in post-conflict situations, the Council should avoid establishing ad hoc tribunals. The International Criminal Court emerged as an affirmation of the conviction that justice was indispensable. In the framework of Council work in post-conflict situations, justice and the rule of law were also a development issue. There was, therefore, a need for greater coordination between the Council and other organs of the system. It would be advisable to request the Secretary-General to identify proposals made in that regard, in order to promote a coordinated strategy for promoting justice and the rule of law, he said.
FAROUK AL-SHARA, Foreign Minister of Syria, said that the question of justice and the rule of law was particularly applicable to the Middle East. The United Nations had adopted a record number of resolutions in the Middle East, which had been enforced in some instances, and not in others. Therefore, a lack of equal standards had become a catchphrase in the region.
He asked how Palestinian refugees could respect the rule of law when their right of return was denied, even as other immigrants were welcomed. He spoke of the injustices of the current situation between Israel and Palestinians. He said that Israel had also accused many nations of activities that it itself was guilty of, such as the possession of weapons of mass destruction.
Syria, he said, through its membership in the Security Council has supported strengthening peacekeeping through the enhancement of the rule of law component. He asked that all Member States support the Organization with adequate resources for that purpose.
SOLOMON PASSY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, said democratic government, the rule of law and respect for human rights played an essential role in preventing international and internal conflicts. There was, therefore, a need to guarantee that the rule of law was a priority in preventive activities of the Organization and that the Council treat the violation of that principle as a potential threat to international peace and security. The effective administration of justice and rule of law should be taken into account in mission mandates. Attaining lasting peace depended largely on building an effective system of the administration of justice in line with international standards.
He said in post-conflict situations, the establishment or re-establishment of the rule of law was a key prerequisite for the success of the entire reconstruction process. In building or supporting the work of the judiciary in the affected country, United Nations activities should be coordinated with local parties taking into account special circumstances and local traditions. Lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq had showed that, in order to preserve the trust in the Organization, it was essential to avoid the impression that a foreign order was being imposed. Bulgaria would, therefore, support a new resolution expanding the United Nations role in Iraq.
There were multiple challenges to international efforts to strengthen the rule of law of law. Those challenges were often political. He asked whether one should look for an agreement on ending hostilities by offering amnesty to those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and said the clear answer was no. It would be wise for the United Nations to consider a pool of experts who could provide legal assistance. He welcomed the establishment of the International Criminal Court and hoped it would become an effective tool in the fight against the worst violations against human rights and humanitarian law. He proposed that the Council strengthen interaction with regional organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union and the Council of Europe in supporting justice and the rule of law internationally.
FRANCOIS LONSENY FALL, Foreign Minister of Guinea, said that strengthening multilateralism in international affairs was a necessity. If the clear will of certain States went outside of the collective will, the United Nations and, in particular, the Security Council must provide conflict management.
Such conflict management and arbitration were important in issues related to justice and the rule of law, as were institutions such as the International Criminal Court. The economic interest of developing countries must be made, in addition, a priority to strengthen the rule of justice through equitable conditions. Treaties, conventions and international agreements must also be enforced equally.
He reaffirmed his support for a high-level group that would look at globalization, justice and threats to peace and reiterated the view that justice and the rule of law entailed multilateralism and support for the notion of collective security.
ANA PALACIO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain, said the objective of the Council -- ensuring international peace and security - was inseparable from the concept of law. All law was based on values and international peace must, therefore, be based on universal values. The rule of law presupposed a concept of justice among citizens. The effectiveness of the rule of law was based on that concept. The United Nations must give thought to the concept of coercion and the United Nations needed to address the debate on the universality of human rights. The international community needed to accept principles of universal validity.
She said the strengthening of the rule of law was especially necessary in the fight against terrorism and organized international crime, including trafficking in illegal drugs, illegal weapons and persons. Currently, societies emerging from conflict were far from the standards of the rule of law and could, therefore, not help themselves to address the underlying causes of conflict. Spain had been a leading actor in convincing States that implementing shared values was the most effective instrument in combating terrorism.
One of the tasks of the United Nations in Iraq was contributing to establishing justice and rule of law. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq must promote legal reform in the country. Efforts must focus on establishing truth, accountability and reconciliation. Legal reforms were necessary to make laws in accordance with international legal standards in respect to human rights. Priority must be attached to institutional reforms, including courts, police, and the military. Iraqis should adopt basic rules for coexistence, she said.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), delivering the statement of JOSCHKA FISCHER, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the creation or restoration of rule-of-law structures in post-conflict situations might be very difficult, but they were vital. Multilateral engagement in a crisis area could only leave a better and more peaceful order in the long-term, if that order was based on rule-of-law principles. It often took great effort to build a State based on the rule of law, but it could be destroyed much more quickly. Few countries know this as well as Germany, he said.
External assistance was essential in building a State based on the rule of law in post-conflict, he continued. Restoration of peace and justice in El Salvador, Timor-Leste and Kosovo had not been possible without the commitment of the United Nations. The Ad Hoc Tribunals had played a valuable role in dealing with serious crimes. The International Criminal Court could take on very serious crimes, which a State believed could not be handled by its own courts, at present. The International Criminal Court served the same principles as those that governed the Council.
He proposed, among other things, the development of standard procedures for creating rule-of-law structures in conflict areas. He said they should apply to the secondment of judicial commissions of inquiry, the integration of rule of law components into peacekeeping missions and the establishment of provisional judicial authorities. The Secretary-General might consider establishing a task force in the Secretariat to tackle those issues. Cooperation between national and international bodies of justice should be further developed. The International Criminal Courts Statute contained cross-references to the Council. In order to use the various judicial instruments efficiently, it could be worthwhile for the Council to observe their work more closely and set up a monitoring group to that extent. It would be especially welcome if those Council members who were critical of some tribunals participated in that group.
The rule of law and basic economic conditions were interrelated, and the rule of law fostered trade and investment, he said. A war economy, organized crime and smuggling, on the other hand, undermined the rule of law. The international community must, therefore, try to stop those illegal economic flows. The Councils task was to use the instruments available to combat those economic forces which aggravated conflicts. The Kimberley process was an innovative approach, in that regard. There was a need to focus on efforts for universally valid rule-of-law principles. That was a difficult balancing act in a world with different legal systems, but the rule of law was a main pillar for ensuring peace in the world.
ISMAEL ABRAAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) spoke of the importance of justice and the rule of law in both the Millennium Declaration and the United Nations Charter. The gap between commitment and concrete action in the area, however, must be bridged. People throughout the world remained subject to summary execution, disappearance and torture.
The system of collective security was of vital importance in the area, as were regional arrangements. In that way, African peacekeeping efforts were a concrete demonstration of the commitment of African countries to implement peace and security based on the rule of law. The role the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had played concerning sanctions on his country also demonstrated what could be achieved when there was political will among countries. The relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations should, therefore, be strengthened to enhance justice and the rule of law in Africa.
By establishing special criminal courts for Rwanda and Sierra Leone, the Security Council had also taken major steps to strengthen the rule of law in Africa. However, in order to make the United Nations more effective in the area, challenges such as extreme poverty and the exploitation of resources must also be addressed, with adequate resources directed toward those problems. Assistance must also be directed toward specific initiatives in justice and the rule of law.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said the theme addressed today touched on the very essence of what the United Nations was about. After the Second World War, the question was raised of how to ensure that such atrocities would not be repeated, and a world of peace could be brought about. The world of peace presumed no more than a world of justice, including respect for international treaties. At the inception of the United Nations, the dialectic relationship between justice, law, peace and development had been reaffirmed. The current discussion recalled that basic truth, at a time when in international relations there was a need for justice, development and the rule of law.
He said the United Nations must play a key role in creating the conditions for peace, based on law and justice. The United Nations must also give priority to guaranteeing security to the populations who had the greatest need for it, and ensuring that there was compliance with agreements. The Organization must also work to ensure the rule of law in relations between States. It must contribute to training an effective police, to establish order and security in compliance with human rights. Conflicts often lead to human rights abuses, requiring the creation of institutions for the perpetrators. The International Criminal Court (ICC) had established a map towards the end of impunity.
He said the Council must think about the creation of an early warning system for intervention, so that deployment can be made as soon as possible in situations where civilians were threatened. Beyond preventive diplomacy, a mechanism for peace-building was needed, in order to address the causes of conflict. The United Nations must also play its due role in post-conflict situations, situations in which there were increasingly encroachments upon justice and the rule of law, he concluded.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said that his country did not enter lightly into treaties because it believed that the importance of the rule of law to a successful system of peace cannot be overstated. Democracy, justice, economic prosperity, human rights, counter-terrorism and lasting peace all depend on the rule of law.
In post-conflict situations there was, indeed, no one-size-fits all approach, he continued. However, much was known, including the fact that order was not an end in its own right. Rather, it must be part of re-establishing comprehensive rule of law, so that social and economic development can take place and justice can be served. The process required well-trained police forces, which must be integrated into a credible legal system and a functioning judiciary. Courtrooms might have to be rebuilt, law curricula revamped, legal codes revised, prison systems restructured. For the rule of law to take root, public support was a prerequisite, along with, oftentimes, profound social and cultural change. The burden was great, but a reliable legal infrastructure was crucial to reintegration of ex-combatants and other parts of a peace process.
To accomplish the task, cadres of experts, who have familiarity with the language and culture of a country emerging from conflict, must be recruited on short notice, he said. Even with their help, the task could only be completed with a long-term commitment from the local government and population, a commitment that might be severely tested by tempering the need for immediate redress. Good judicial models were helpful; the Nuremberg legacy taught that no one should be above the law.
The United States, he said, had been the single largest donor to such international tribunals, including those for the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. It pursued the highest standards in accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He described the safeguards provided by the Defense Department to ensure prosecution of violations. He hoped other countries would follow that example, and concluded by reaffirming the United States commitment to the rule of law and urging that the international community work together to support such rule.
SOLEDAD ALVEAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, noted that the Council had created two institutions to ensure respect for the law and maintain international peace and security -- the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The Council must continue its work in that field, she stressed, using tools that the international community had given it. A vital function had been assigned to the Council when it was given power to refer cases to the International Criminal Court. Chile reaffirmed its commitment to the purposes and principles of the Statute establishing that Court.
Continuing, she said that post-conflict situations had given the United Nations a chance to repair societies fractured by war and contribute to the moral and material reconstruction of their institutions. Comprehensive approaches were needed during the reconstruction phase, until a society became self-sustaining and the foundation for preventing a return to conflict had been laid down. Only then could the United Nations consider its mission complete. To that end, it was first necessary to devise an appropriate exit strategy. In designing that strategy, the follow-up to the political process could be agreed upon with the host government, in a way that would link the United Nations with the quality of democracy in the country.
The post-conflict process required the close institutional cooperation of various United Nations organs and international financial institutions, she said. Consolidation of peace in post-conflict situations was a collective effort that involved not only the United Nations and the parties. Civil society also had a key role to play to ensure the viability of new institutions.
Speaking in his national capacity, Council President JACK STRAW, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said without proper protection of human rights, post-conflict societies could easily slide back to violence. In too many cases where the Council had expended great efforts in securing peace, conflict had soon reignited. The reasons for that must be examined and the lessons applied to future United Nations interventions. He suggested a more strategic, coordinated and consistent approach. The United Nations had much to contribute to managing post-conflict situations. It had the relevant experience, ranging from international criminal tribunals to training, policing and justice.
The Ad Hoc Tribunals had broken new ground in international law and had shown that no one, no head of government or State, was above the law. Those Tribunals however, were slow and costly. Those lessons had been applied in the Special Court for Sierra Leone. It had been set up in the country where the crimes were committed, with a time limit of three years. That Court had indicted 12 individuals and should begin trials in January 2004, thus making a good start. However, its existence was threatened by a lack of resources. If $4 million were not received before November, the court would be bankrupt before trials began trials. He pointed out, in that regard, that the Ad Hoc Tribunals cost well over $100 million.
He said the International Criminal Court would eventually remove the need for international tribunals, and the United Kingdom had fully accepted its jurisdiction. Justice was always best delivered at a national level. International mechanisms must, therefore, be used as a last resort. Often, however, conflict broke out in societies where democratic structures, including an independent judiciary, were weak. The international community must provide resources and expert assistance to help rebuild or establish robust democratic structures, including courts.
He said that, despite barroom jokes about lawyers, faith in the rule of law was absolutely fundamental to the operation of society. The Council should look at mainstreaming rule of law issues into its work. When peacekeeping mandates were under discussion, the Council should be offered advice on securing the necessary expertise. Those responsible for ensuring the rule of law in the absence of effective civilian authorities should follow codes of conduct. That approach should be expanded through all relevant United Nations operations and agencies.
He then read out the following statement, which will be issued as S/PRST/2003/15:
The Security Council met at Ministerial level on 24 September 2003 to consider Justice and the Rule of Law: the UN Role. Ministers expressed their respective views and understandings on, and reaffirmed the vital importance of these issues, recalling the repeated emphasis given to them in the work of the Council, for example in the context of the protection of civilians in armed conflict, in relation to peacekeeping operations and in connection with international criminal justice.
The statements made on 24 September demonstrated the abundant wealth of relevant experience and expertise that exists within the United Nations system and in the Member States. Ministers considered that it would be appropriate to examine further how to harness and direct this expertise and experience so that it was more readily accessible to the Council, to the wider United Nations membership and to the international community as a whole, so that the lessons and experience of the past could be, as appropriate, learned and built on. The Council welcomed in particular the offer by the Secretary-General to provide a report which could guide and inform further consideration of these matters.
The Council invites all Members of the United Nations, and other parts of the United Nations system with relevant expertise, to contribute to this process of reflection and analysis on these matters, beginning with the further meeting on this subject which will be convened on 30 September 2003.
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