The rule of law is both an aim in itself and a means to achieving an aim. That is the aim of a more peaceful, prosperous and just world. Peace and security, development, human rights, the rule of law and democracy go hand in hand and are among the universal and indivisible core values of the United Nations. Against this background, we fully support the inclusion of this item on the agenda of the 6th Committee.
Let me start by thanking the Secretary-General for his valuable work on this topic, including the inventory contained in document A/63/64, and the report “Strengthening and Coordinating United Nations Rule of Law Activities” (A/63/226).
In his report on the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies of 2004 (S/2004/616), the Secretary-General highlights important elements to which we fully subscribe: The rule of law requires that all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and that are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It also requires measures to ensure adherence to the principles of the supremacy of the law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency. Thus, the principle is not limited to domestic legal safeguards, but involves values and interests also relevant at the international level.
I will first make some comments on the rule of law at international level. According to the 2005 Summit Outcome Document, our engagement should be rooted in respect for the Charter and international law, recognition of an effective multilateral system, respect for the sovereign equality of States, the need to resolve disputes by peaceful means, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the recognition that protection from genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes is also the responsibility of the international community.
Bearing this in mind, we support the recommendations set out by the Secretary-General in his latest report. Norway reaffirms its commitment to the rule of law at international level. We accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and invite all States that have not yet done so to do the same. The Council of Europe Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law has recently issued guidelines to promote broader acceptance of the jurisdiction of the Court. We reiterate the need to progressively develop, codify and implement international law. We renew our efforts to combat impunity and strengthen universal justice, including through the International Criminal Court and the international ad-hoc- and hybrid tribunals. Finally, we recognise the importance of the rule of law to peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
Allow me now to say a few words about the rule of law within the United Nations itself. It is of vital importance that the UN set an example. In this regard we welcome the development of the Organisation’s internal justice system, which is currently under consideration. We support the establishment of a professional, independent and decentralised internal justice system that is in full conformity with internationally recognised judicial standards.
That being said, we would like to express our concern with regard to the procedural rules in the Security Council’s targeted sanctions regimes. It is Norway’s firm view that a fair and transparent procedure for the listing of persons, who are consequently subject to sanctions, includes the right to be informed, the right to be heard and the right to review by an independent, effective mechanism. We encourage the Security Council to continue assessing its procedural rules in relation to the sanctions regimes with a view to strengthening the legal safeguards for those who are listed.
In Norway’s view, a rule of law framework at national level should include a Constitution or its equivalent, a clear and consistent legal framework and implementation thereof, strong institutions of justice, governance, security and human rights that are well structured, financed, trained and equipped, transitional justice processes and mechanisms, a public administration and civil society that contribute and public officials and institutions that are held accountable.
We also welcome the recommendations made by the Secretary-General with regard to the Organisation’s work in this field, in particular with regard to enhancing sustainable technical assistance to member States and integrating the rule of law agenda into the UN country engagement. We also welcome the idea that the Organisation should assess the effectiveness of its rule of law activities.
Let me now turn to the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group and the Rule of Law Unit. Norway welcomes the establishment of these new bodies with a view to improving coordination in this field. In our view, the establishment of the Group will help to improve the effectiveness of UN work, lead to synergies and reduce duplication of work.
The Group is supported by the Rule of law Unit. The support functions of the Unit fall into three broad areas of activity: ensuring coordination and coherence; developing system-wide strategies, policy direction and guidance, including the development of a joint strategic plan (2009-2011); and enhancing partnerships between the UN and other rule of law actors.
Norway is encouraged that the Organisation has begun to take a strategic and result-based approach to its rule of law work, and we find the Secretary-General’s recommendations with regard to the work of the Group and the Unit very interesting and promising, in particular the unified training of all rule of law personnel and annual forums to reach out to a wider range of UN actors, rule of law partners and recipient countries.
We strongly support the overall coordination and coherence role of the Group and its supporting Unit. Now it is of the utmost importance to ensure that the Unit is provided with the necessary financial and human resources to carry out its important tasks in a proper manner. Norway believes that the Unit should be financed over the ordinary UN budget with its own budget line.
In order to bring forward the work of the 6th Committee on this agenda item, sub-topics should be identified for streamlined discussions. The strengthening of criminal justice at both national and international level could be one such topic as it combines an international and national dimension and provides an opportunity to examine issues such as technical assistance and capacity-building. We are, however, open for other sub-topics of common interest that could lead to constructive debates.