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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


Security Council                                           
5052nd Meeting (AM & PM)
SC/8209
6 October 2004

                                    

SECURITY COUNCIL STRESSES IMPORTANCE, URGENCY OF RESTORING RULE OF LAW
IN POST-CONFLICT SOCIETIES

Presidential Statement Follows Day-Long Debate


A day-long thematic debate in the Security Council today culminated in the adoption of a presidential statement by which the Council stressed the importance and urgency of restoring justice and the rule of law in post-conflict societies, not only to come to terms with past abuses, but also to promote national reconciliation and to help prevent a return to conflict. 

Through a statement read out by the Council’s President for the month, Emyr Jones Parry (United Kingdom) (S/PRST/2004/34), the Council emphasized that ending the climate of impunity is essential in a conflict and post-conflict society efforts to come to terms with past abuses, and in preventing future ones.

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Presidential Statement

The full text of the Presidential Statement which will be issued as S/PRST/2004/34, reads as follows:

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider “Justice and the Rule of Law:  the United Nations Role”.  The Council first took up the agenda item on 24 September 2003, at the ministerial level, and then on 30 September 2003, in an open meeting.  [For further information, see Press Releases SC/7880 and SC/7884.]

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Statements

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MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria) ...

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... Re-establishing the rule of law meant that the three pillars of peace, freedom and development must be built.  The tragedy of the Palestinian people and the international community’s silence on the matter was indicative of how precarious the rule of law was at the international level. 

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NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer of Palestine, said the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies was a matter of great importance to Palestine.  The problem had been that Palestine remained in the midst of a raging conflict whereby the stronger party, the occupying Power, continued to colonize the Palestinian land and commit illegal practices against the Palestinian people, seeking to ensure that it did not succeed in its post-conflict reconstruction.  The international community must draw some conclusions.  It was imperative to ensure a clear basis for an end to the conflict, before delving into the tasks of post-conflict reconstruction.  Ignoring the crux of the problem and shelving international law with regard to the conflict itself could only lead to failure. 

To succeed in building and institutionalizing a culture of law, it was necessary to ensure that conflicts were resolved on the basis of law, he said.  In the case of Palestine, the law had been elusive.  At best it had been sidelined, and at worst it had been transgressed in the most egregious manner.  The human rights of the Palestinian people under international human rights law had been systematically violated.  The United Nations, especially the Security Council, had failed in a historic way.  It had failed to implement its own resolutions; failed to prevent the insidious colonization of the Palestinian land and the constant attempts to change the status of Jerusalem; and failed to be faithful to the purposes and principles of the Charter.  In short, it had failed to uphold the law.

To be fair, it had not been the failure of the membership as a whole, he added.  One permanent member had consistently prevented the Council from taking serious actions, providing the occupying Power with unjustified diplomatic protection.  The consequences of that behaviour had been detrimental not only in terms of Palestinian rights, but also in terms of the credibility of the international system.  It was his deep hope that the pattern, and not the law, would be cast aside when the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion was brought before the Council for consideration.

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