New York, 29 June 2010
Statement by H.E. Mr. Ivan Barbalić, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations
at the UN Security Council Debate
on the promotion and strengthening of the rule of law in the maintenance of
international peace and security
Letter dated 18 June 2010 from the Permanent Representative of Mexico to the
UN addressed to the SG (S/2010/322)
At the outset, let me thank you, Mr. President, for convening this meeting of the Security Council to discuss such a significant issue. Noting that our last debate on this issue took place in 206 (see S/PV.5474) and that this very month we deliberated the progress and contributions of the ad hoc tribunals, as well as the achievements of and challenges to the Security Council counter-terrorism committees, we find that the timing of this debate is excellent. It will further reflect the Council’s dedication and support to strengthening and promoting the rule of law. Bosnia and Herzegovina fully supports you in this initiative.
I would like to thank Deputy Secretary-General Migiro and the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel of the United Nations, Patricia O’Brien, for their contribution to today’s discussion, as we consider their comments to be of great value and significance.
Today’s discussion focuses on three key issues: the promotion of the rule of law in conflict and postconflict situations, international justice and the peaceful settlement of disputes, and the efficiency and credibility of sanctions regimes. Allow me to address each of these issues.
Promoting justice and the rule of law means enabling a fragile post-conflict society to avoid further damage from the conflict and to reconstruct itself and build sustainable peace. As Kofi Annan stated in 2004: “[W]e cannot forget the political context. Peace and stability can prevail only if the causes of conflict are addressed in a legitimate and fair manner — causes such as ethnic discrimination, gross disparities in the distribution of wealth and social services, abuse of power, and the denial of the right to property or citizenship.” (S/PV.5052, p. 3) Peacebuilding activities in a post-conflict society must be integrated, coordinated and based on a comprehensive approach to the establishment of good governance, the rule of law and promotion of human rights, institution-building, security sector reform, economic reconstruction and development. The right to return and the reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons should be an integral part of peacebuilding strategies.
Particular attention should be paid to the full integration of the rule of law component into the strategic and operational planning of peace operations. We believe that the policy framework of United Nations activities in the area of the rule of law should be based on careful consideration of the country’s needs and capacities, taking into account the social, cultural and justice system specificities of the host country and complying with international norms and standards.
Transitional justice and restoring the capacities and legitimacy of national institutions should continue to be at the very heart of the United Nations rule of law action aiming to establish lasting peace in post-conflict countries. Coming to terms with a legacy of gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and ensuring accountability are of crucial importance for stabilization, reconciliation and overall reinforcement of the peace process.
Strengthening the rule of law must be accompanied by efforts to ensure sufficient capacity and bring to justice the perpetrators of the most serious crimes. We firmly believe that addressing impunity is of the utmost importance. Therefore, the establishment and support of independent national judicial institutions that will be given the task of dealing with the domestic processing of gross human rights violations is of vital significance for addressing the legacy of the past. Also, in order to ensure the effectiveness of these institutions, other segments of the judiciary system — such as humane prison services, victim protection and reparations measures, juvenile justice systems or institutions in charge of civil claims — should be simultaneously developed.
Bosnia and Herzegovina considers the establishment of the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to be a positive step towards assuring effective coordination in providing comprehensive United Nations rule of law engagement during conflict and post-conflict recovery. We look forward to working together in further strengthening the work of the Office.
It is crucial to emphasize the central role of the United Nation in strengthening international justice and the importance it gives to promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes. We recall that one of the main purposes of this Organization, which is firmly embedded in its main document, is to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained. As stated in the Secretary-General’s report of 2006 (S/2006/980), the Charter of the United Nations, together with the four pillars of the modern international legal system — international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law and international refugee law — and the wealth of the United Nations human rights, crime prevention and criminal justice standards set out a normative foundation and provides the means for all United Nations activities in support of justice and the rule of law.
Following on from this, I should like to touch upon the judicial institution that, as a principal organ of the United Nations and as set out in Chapter XIV of the Charter, has a fundamental role in determining the law, establishing facts and defining legal situations.
The judgments and the growing number of advisory opinions of the International Court of Justice have made a valuable contribution to the cause of peace and the building of an international order based on law through the unified interpretation and clarification of the key points of international law.
Bearing in mind the fundamental principle of the international legal system that States settle their differences through peaceful means, we can only agree with the Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit (General Assembly resolution 60/1) and recognize once again the important role of the Court in those peaceful settlements.
This also prompts us to underline the very strong connection and overlapping roles that the Council and the Court have in those situations. As the majority of disputes are perceived to be politically charged and diplomatically sensitive, many of them are by their nature concerned with supposed legal rights, in which cases Chapter VI of the Charter refers to the Court as the principal organ for their settlement. Since the enforcement of the Court’s judgments lies ultimately with the Security Council, we are of the opinion that the Council, through its own actions, should give stronger emphasis and exploit this body more as one of the central tools in maintaining peace and security.
Finally in this regard, it is of great importance to underline that States today have many different means of settling their disputes, through a vast range of highly specialized forums and tribunals. We believe that all efforts towards peaceful resolution further promote the culture of dialogue and contribute to respect for the principles of international law. We therefore strongly encourage the further strengthening of existing international dispute settlement mechanisms and the use of alternative mechanisms and informal systems for peaceful dispute resolution.
As I stated at the outset, this month the Council also deliberated upon several other topics that, in their nature, represent essential aspects of promoting and strengthening the rule of law and international justice.
It once again emphasized the significant contribution of the ad hoc tribunals to international criminal law, as they have brought and continue to bring justice to countries deeply wounded by mass atrocities and serious violations of international humanitarian law. Their role in fighting impunity and restoring peace and the rule of law is indisputable, and their legacy has been honoured with the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
We hope that this Court will draw its strength not only from the vast experience of the ad hoc tribunals, but also from the experience of the mixed tribunals and truth and reconciliation commissions, as they proved on numerous occasions to be a valuable tool in the quest for justice.
In that context, the Council should consider measures to further support and strengthen the ICC’s important role in the international judicial system. We urge all those States which have not yet done so to consider becoming party to the Rome Statute, but we also take this opportunity to remind them of their obligations under Article 103 of the Charter.
As many rightly pointed out during the debate in 2006 (5474th meeting), it is of the utmost importance that sanctions are adopted in accordance with the provisions of the Charter and that they have a high degree of legitimacy. At that time, the Council was urged to improve the efficiency and credibility of sanctions regimes.
Today, we can rightly say that the Council has made a significant achievement in that regard: resolutions 1822 (2008) and 1904 (2009) have contributed further to the credibility of the Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions regime.
They targeted the key issues of concern for the Council in 2006 and, what is of even greater importance, set up an institution to address the issue of listing and delisting in an efficient and transparent way. By establishing the institution of the Ombudsperson, this Council took a step further in strengthening the work of the sanctions regime, underlining its firm commitment to and respect for due process guarantees. Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomes the appointment of Judge Kimberly Prost to that position and firmly believes that her work within the framework of the sanctions committee will further compliment our commitment to the rule of law.
It is important to emphasize that, besides the establishment of the Ombudsperson, the Committee continues to tirelessly address the requirements set out in resolution 1822 (2008), always bearing in mind the importance of fair and transparent procedures when deliberating on the facts and evidence provided.
As a result, and drawing from the example of the Al Qaida and Taliban sanctions regime, we support other sanctions regimes in their practice of periodically reviewing and evaluating targeted sanctions. All the efforts they invest in further improving their procedures and their careful consideration and deliberation in this sensitive matter firmly underline and demonstrate the credibility of such measures.
Finally, I would like to reiterate the importance that Bosnia and Herzegovina attaches to justice and the rule of law in rebuilding post-conflict societies, as parts of a comprehensive approach to peacebuilding strategies aimed at achieving reconciliation, stability and lasting, irreversible peace.