Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Speech: UN Secretary-General Says “No War Criminal Should Ever Find Safe Harbour In The Modern World”



UN Secretary-General(Left) Addressing Meeting On Rule Of Law; Photo Credit: UN News Centre
The Charter of the United Nations, the Constitution of the international community provides indispensable tools to deepen the rule of law: the universal standard-setting power of the General Assembly, the enforcement power of the Security Council, the judicial power of the International Court of Justice.

The wider body of international law developed at the United Nations gives the international community a basis to cooperate and peacefully resolve conflicts and the means to ensure that there is no relapse of fighting. And with the development of accountability mechanisms, no war criminal should ever find safe harbour in the modern world. The rule of law is also fundamental to development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Today’s discussion should strengthen our resolve to ensure that the post-2015 international development agenda takes full account of the rule of law. I am proud that the United Nations is promoting the rule of law in more than 150 countries.

I am grateful for the many voluntary pledges being made today. I thank the governments that have made the commitments. But I ask for concrete action in five specific areas. First, I call on all States to commit to the equal application of the law at both the national and international levels. There should be no selectivity in applying resolutions, decisions and laws. We cannot allow political self-interest to undermine justice. Second, I call on Heads of State and Government to uphold the highest standards of the rule of law in their decision making at all times. The rule of law must be the foundation for every government action. Third, I call on all Heads of State and Government to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. Fourth, I urge Member States to support peace by strengthening UN initiatives in the field of the rule of law: training police, improving corrections and enhancing the judiciary in fragile and conflict-torn countries around the world. Fifth, and fundamentally, I urge you to adopt the solemn declaration that is before you to make the most of this truly historic occasion to commit to respect for international law and justice and to an international order based on the rule of law.

Civil society plays a crucial role in holding leaders to account, and I urge you to keep pushing for action in all of these action areas to give the rule of law the place it deserves. It is not enough to disperse our rule of law activities across the United Nations agenda. They deserve a central place in the structure of our work. I count on you to help forge a new, structured approach to strengthening the rule of law and delivering justice so we can achieve peace, development and human rights.

Strengthening the rule of law is for every country and is in everyone’s interest. It is as essential within countries as it is among the family of nations. Today’s meeting is a milestone but it is not an end in itself. Our challenge now is to follow up, generate momentum and continue to give a high profile to this essential foundation for a better future.

Thank you.

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