Allow me first of all to thank the Secretary-General for his reports related to this agenda item. They offer a useful overview of the wide range of UN activities in this field and of member States’ views on matters pertaining to the rule of law at the national and international levels, as addressed in resolution A/61/39.
Norway is a firm promoter of the rule of law. We were among those who applauded the inclusion of this issue both in the outcome document of the World Summit in 2005 and on the 6th Committee’s agenda in 2006. Furthermore, Norway warmly welcomes the creation of the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group and the Rule of Law Assistance Unit established pursuant to the outcome document of the 2005 World Summit. The Unit’s work so far has been promising in terms of its ability to enhance coordination and coherence throughout the whole range of UN activities related to the rule of law.
The Secretary-General’s interim report, which provides an inventory of these activities, highlights the wide range of efforts undertaken by the UN system. From reading the report, it is evident that coordination efforts should be strengthened. We therefore look forward to the continued implementation of the Unit’s work plan, which contains a number of important tasks related to the rule of law, such as developing a coordinated work plan for the entire UN system, identifying priority gaps in the organisation’s capacity and establishing best practices based on the international experience gained in connection with rule of law assistance.
Ensuring effective and coherent response to member States’ requests for assistance and promoting the rule of law in international relations are among the UN’s key objectives. We therefore believe it is pertinent for the General Assembly to make available to the Unit sufficient funds and resources to ensure stable working conditions. Hence it is our position that the Unit should be financed through assessed contributions in order to avoid the financial insecurity that would result from leaving the financing of the Unit to voluntary contributions from member States.
In accordance with last year’s resolution, the General Assembly will decide on specific topics related to the rule of law that are suitable for discussion in the 6th Committee next year. Certain subject matters have emerged from consultations or have been proposed by states submitting their comments to the Secretary-General. We see merit in trying to narrow down the vast field which is the rule of law by identifying topics of current interest that are suitable for focused and streamlined discussions in order to make progress and find common ground for coordinated and result-oriented efforts.
We would furthermore caution against selecting poorly-defined, broad topics as this would entail a risk of duplicating the discussions in other forums. For this reason, we attach great importance to the consultations on this year’s resolution on the topic.
Promotion of the rule of law is a priority for the Norwegian Government and as such an integrated part of our international activities. To mention just one of many examples, Norway has established a stand-by force for civilian and human rights efforts in crisis situations. Composed of civilian experts that include judges, public prosecutors, police lawyers and prison service personnel, this force has provided rule of law assistance in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Georgia and Moldova.
Another important objective is the promotion of international criminal justice. Norway supports the international criminal tribunals and the International Criminal Court, including by advocating the widest possible accession to the Rome Statute. We also see the need to preserve the legacy of the special criminal tribunals. In order to strengthen national capacity to investigate and prosecute international crimes, Norway is providing funding for the ICC Legal Tools Project, an important resource base for national authorities, practitioners of law and scholars around the world.
The International Court of Justice is the ultimate body entrusted with the task of upholding the rule of law at the international level. However, of the UN’s 192 member States only 65 have accepted the jurisdiction of the Court in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article 36 of the Court’s Statute. It is our view that since its establishment the Court has clearly demonstrated its vital and constructive role in conflict resolution and, by extension, that both member States and the international community would benefit greatly from wider acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction. In this regard we remind delegations that the Court’s jurisdiction could be tailored to meet the needs of the individual States for dispute resolution. Norway will continue to actively promote acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction among the member States.
We look forward to the Committee’s further work on this item and to the report by the Secretary-General identifying ways and means to strengthen and coordinate the activities of the United Nations system in this field.