I would like to thank South Africa for having organized this open debate on the role of justice and the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security. This debate is an important stage in the preparation of the high-level event on the rule of law that will be held on the margins of the General Assembly’s sixtyseventh session — an event in which the presidency of the Security Council has been invited to participate. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his briefing.
I would also like to associate myself with the statement that is to be made by the observer of the European Union.
In 2006 and 2010, the Security Council adopted ambitious and innovative presidential statements concerning justice and the rule of law. We welcome that the text of draft statement that the President will read at the close of our debate is set out in the same vein.
More significantly still, the Security Council has implemented its commitments in the context of geographic situations. This synergy between the Council’s thematic work, on the one hand, and its action in specific situations, on the other, is a key component of its efficacy.
The successive Council resolutions of 2011 bear witness to that, with the Council implementing in that regard the full array of measures anticipated in the thematic declarations on justice and the rule of law. Resolution 1970 (2011), which referred the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court (ICC), reflects the intention of the Council “to continue forcefully to fight impunity … with appropriate means”, as stated in the presidential statement of 2010(S/PRST/2010/11). Resolution 2009 (2011) established the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and called on it to support Libya’s effortsto restore the rule of law. It also reflects the Council’s resolve to promote the rule of law in the efforts to restore peace, which was also reaffirmed in 2010.
There are many other examples, and therefore our action can be further strengthened in several areas. I shall cite two.
The first has to do with strengthening our support for the rule of law in countries affected by conflict. The Security Council’s investment in the rule of law — whether in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan or Côte d’Ivoire — is immense and lasting. The increased efforts for coherence and coordination implemented by the Secretary-General and described in his report (S/2011/634*) are directed at greater effectiveness. The dialogue between the Council and the country-specific configurations of the Peacebuilding Commission is also a key element of that coherence. Real needs are better identified. We do feel, however, that it would be useful to make progress in the identification and rapid deployment of capacities that are adapted to those needs. The report of the Secretary-General on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict (S/2011/527) is particularly relevant with regard to police, justice and prison administration. We have had a debate in the Council on this subject, which should also be examined in the General Assembly. It is important to encourage any and all initiatives to expedite work to facilitate access by countries concerned to the expertise they need.
The Council should also mobilize to support the efforts of States in the fight against organized crime, drug trafficking and corruption. The increase in crosscutting threats compels us to support the rule of law in the most fragile countries, particularly in West Africa and in the Sahel.
The second area concerns criminal justice. The fight against impunity for those who commit genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes is an essential component of our peace and security mission. The international community and this Council can already count on the International Criminal Court — a permanent, fully integrated tribunal with the competence to prosecute the perpetrators of the most serious crimes when national judicial institutions lack either the will or the capacity to bring the authors of such acts to justice. The International Criminal Court is involved in numerous situations that are on the Council’s agenda, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or in Côte d’Ivoire, and the Council itself has referred two situations to the Court. We must remain firm and consistent in our message to the perpetrators of atrocities, in particular those who plan and order crimes to be committed as a means to attain or remain in power. Their individual criminal responsibility is at stake. In that regard, we welcome the unambiguous position of the Secretary-General, who has asked his representatives on the ground to, on the one hand, always respect judicial process but, on the other, to limit their contacts with wanted criminals to what is essential for their mission and finally never to accept provisions concerning amnesties or immunities in agreements that are sponsored by the United Nations.
International criminal justice can be an effective instrument for preventing crime and thus for promoting lasting peace, provided that it has the unwavering support of the international community and of this Council. One possible route for improving our efforts in 2012 could be to better ensure follow-up in cooperation between States and the International Criminal Court when that cooperation has already been decided by the Council in a resolution adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, as with resolution 1593 (2005) on Darfur. That is also one of the recommendations of the Secretary-General in his report. The draft presidential statement prepared by South Africa contains a new provision recalling the importance of cooperation with the ICC and the other international tribunals. We welcome that.
Before concluding, I wish to recall the importance that we attach to the peaceful settlement of disputes, which is one of the pillars of the Charter, and to the role of the International Court of Justice as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The number of inter-State disputes that have been brought before the Court and the requests for opinions from organs of the United Nations attest to its vitality. Issuing judgments is an essential responsibility that gives structure to the international order. But in this domain, and for criminal justice, implementing the decisions of judges is just as fundamental. We must focus our attention on that in the coming years.