An international order based on the rule of law is essential for peaceful coexistence and cooperation among states. It is in the interest of all states – large and small – to maintain an international legal order based on the values and structures recognized by the international community.
Norway welcomes the focus of this session on Laws and practices of Member States in implementing international law.
The reception of international legal norms in national legal systems depends on the constitutional system of each Member State. Traditionally, we have expressed this relationship in terms of monist vs. dualist legal traditions. In this respect, Norway belongs to the dualist tradition. As a point of departure, to obtain domestic legal force, international norms need to be transposed into corresponding rules of national law.
However, international law is also recognized by domestic authorities and courts in Norway under a rule of interpretation of national law termed “the principle of presumption”. This rule safeguards against any unintended interpretation of national law that would run counter to an applicable international legal obligation on the same subject matter, even if the relevant international norm has not been properly transposed into national legislation. A specific implementing method in Norwegian legislation is termed “sector monism”. This model takes into account a dynamic development of international law. One example is the Norwegian criminal justice sector, where the relevant legislation expressly applies subject to such limitations as derived from international agreements or from international law generally.
It has been observed that a monist approach may have the advantage that international obligations more immediately become part of national law, whereas a dualist approach may provide the benefit of making international norms more accessible to national legal subjects. In our view, whether a Member State belongs to a specific constitutional tradition is not decisive in itself. The important factor is that states should fully implement and expeditiously comply with relevant international obligations in their domestic legal order. These and other examples of national legal mechanisms and practices to implement international law domestically may provide guidance and assist other Member States in order to strengthen their rule of law commitments.
Norway commends the United Nations Rule of Law Unit for the technical assistance and programmes it provides to Member States. It is of utmost importance that all Member States are able to implement their international obligations and to develop their legislation and practices for the effective application of international law at the national level.
Implementation of treaties and enforcement of national law can be undermined by a lack of capacity and institutional instability. That is why the re-establishment of national rule of law and accountable and effective security institutions must be central elements in international development efforts. United Nations leadership is critical. Norway therefore strongly supports the DPKO Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions as well as UNDP’s Global Programme on the Rule of Law in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations.
Over the last years, Norway has increased efforts to strengthen the protection of civilians, especially women and children, against the atrocities of war, with particular focus on the sexual violence that has been perpetrated in connection with the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sexual violence constitutes one of the most serious contemporary international crimes. The consequences are dramatic not only for the victims, but also for their families and affected communities.
National implementation of international law is particularly important in the field of international criminal justice. Ending impunity through strengthening national and local judicial systems has proven to be a key in combating such crimes.
Member States should be encouraged to establish and exercise jurisdiction over international crimes as well as transnational criminal acts in order to ensure that suspects of such crimes do not evade legal proceedings. It is contrary to the rule of law and creates a profound sense of injustice when a suspect of a serious crime is perceived to obtain impunity out of reach of a competent criminal prosecution.
Therefore, when a Member State is unwilling or unable to initiate proceedings, there must be a safety net to ensure that justice prevails. The establishment of the ad hoc international criminal tribunals and the International Criminal Court represent important steps forward for international criminal justice.
Recent experience underscores the importance of international criminal justice measures and commissions of inquiry as legal tools to enhance respect for human rights and international humanitarian law and to ensure accountability. These efforts supplement other numerous mechanisms, judicial and non-judicial, for monitoring compliance with international norms and standards by Member States, including relevant United Nations treaty organs. We would like to commend the independent commissions of inquiry established to investigate serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law over the last years. In our view, to prevent conflict and combat impunity we should continue to strengthen international mechanisms to promote compliance with the rule of law.