Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service ·
5052nd Meeting (AM & PM)
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.
The full text of the Presidential Statement which will be issued as S/PRST/2004/34, reads as follows:
“The Security Council thanks the Secretary General for his report dated 3 August 2004, which reissued on 23 August 2004 (S/2004/616), and reaffirms the vital importance that the Council attaches to promoting justice and the rule of law, and post-conflict national reconciliation. The Council will consider, as appropriate in its deliberations, the recommendations set out in paragraph 64 of the report.
The Security Council urges the Secretariat of the United Nations to take make proposals for implementation of the recommendations set out in paragraph 65 of the report, and draws attention in particular to the importance of the practical measures set out in that paragraph that can be implemented rapidly, including co-ordination of existing expertise and resources, setting up databases and web-based resources and developing rosters of experts, workshops and training. The Council urges Member States which are interested in doing so to contribute national expertise and materials to these developments within their means, and to improve their capacities in these areas.
The Security Council recalls the important statement made by the Secretary General to the fifty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly on 21 September 2004 and endorses his view that “It is by reintroducing the rule of law and confidence in its impartial application that we can hope to resuscitate societies shattered by conflict.” The Council stresses the importance and urgency of the restoration of 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 in the future. The Council emphasises that such processes must be inclusive, gender-sensitive and open to the full participation of women.
The Security Council underlines the importance of assessing the particular justice and rule-of-law needs in each host country, taking into consideration the nature of the country’s legal system, traditions and institutions, and of avoiding a “one-size-fits-all” approach. The Council recognizes that building national capacities and independent national institutions is essential, that local ownership and leadership in that process should be encouraged and respected, and that international structures can play a complementary and supportive role.
The Security Council emphasizes that ending the climate of impunity is essential in a conflict and post-conflict society’s efforts to come to terms with past abuses, and in preventing future abuses. The Council draws attention to the full range of transitional justice mechanisms that should be considered, including national, international and “mixed” criminal tribunals, truth and reconciliation commissions, and underlines that those mechanisms should concentrate not only on individual responsibility for serious crimes, but also on the need to seek peace, truth and national reconciliation. The Council welcomes the report’s balanced appraisal of the lessons to be learned from the experience of the ad hoc international criminal tribunals and “mixed” tribunals.
The Security Council recalls that justice and rule of law at the international level are of key importance for promoting and maintaining peace, stability and development in the world. The Council underlines also the importance of helping to prevent future conflicts through addressing their root causes in a legitimate and fair manner.
The Security Council warmly welcomes the Secretary General’s decision to make the United Nations work to strengthen the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies a priority for the remainder of his tenure. The Council invites the Secretary-General to keep it informed on the Secretariat’s progress in taking forward the recommendations set out in paragraph 65 of the report and expresses the intention to consider this matter again within six months.”
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
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (
... 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.
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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