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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Mr. President,  

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. 

The European Union and its Member States very much welcome the opportunity to continue the discussion on this important topic in the Security Council in the format of an open debate.

The Acceding Country Croatia[1], the Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Iceland[2], the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration. 

We welcome that the rule of law has become a topic which is discussed in all relevant organs of the UN and is a part of all UN activities; the rule of law being a core principle both for the internal legal and political order of the European Union and its external policy. The importance of the rule of law in relation to the work of the Security Council is no longer questioned. Rule of law components are regularly incorporated into the Council’s work in various situation-specific contexts. But in order to further a more coherent and systematic approach, thematic debates such as these are important.  

We are deeply committed to upholding and developing an international order based on the rule of law where international law, including human rights law, humanitarian law, and refugee law, is fully respected and implemented. We believe that international law and the rule of law are the foundations of the international system with the United Nations at its core, and therefore remain staunch supporters of the UN’s activities in this field.  

We note the Secretary-General’s report dated 12 October 2011 on rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies (S/2011/634) as well as the progress made in implementing the recommendations contained in the 2004 report of the Secretary-General on this issue(S/2004/616). With regard to conflict and post-conflict situations, we believe that the promotion of the rule of law is also essential. 

In the area of the maintenance of international peace and security, ensuring the rule of law before, during or after open conflicts, as well as in peacekeeping operations themselves, is the most tangible way to shoulder the Council’s responsibility in upholding international standards. This is a task that requires presence and resources over time. Ensuring consistent normative and technical quality is an important success factor. 

In this regard, we support the recommendations set out in the Secretary-General’s latest report, notably with regard to strengthening and coordinating widely with all relevant actors, so as to provide a prompt, holistic and effective support to national capacity in the field of rule of law. In particular, we fully support the idea of enhancing our existing dialogue and cooperation. We encourage the Secretary-General to pursue his efforts to approach the rule of law initiatives in a comprehensive and multidimensional manner, also recognizing the economic and social right dimensions of conflict to ensure long-term peace and security. 

The EU and its Member States support the forthcoming convening of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the rule of law at the beginning of the 67th session and looks forward to participating in this debate. 

Mr. President, 

Rule of law is of critical importance for the EU’s external policy. Respect for justice and the rule of law is an essential condition for peace and stability in the consolidation and support of democracy, and in the fight against impunity. For the European Union and its Member States, respect for the rule of law is essential to conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post conflict reconstruction. It is inextricably linked to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and needs to be pursued both at national and international level.  

Consequently, we strongly support the role of the International Court of Justice as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and call on all States that have not yet done so to consider accepting the jurisdiction of the Court in accordance with its Statute.  

Furthermore, the European Union is a staunch supporter of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Through referring the situation in Darfur and Libya to the ICC in its resolutions 1593 and 1970, the Security Council took decisive action in combating impunity, furthering the rule of law and bringing justice to the victims. The European Union and its Member States call on all members of the United Nations that are not yet parties to the Rome Statute to ratify or accede to it, call on all States parties that have not yet done so to implement it in their national legal order, and call on all States to cooperate fully, including relevant Security Council resolutions, with the Court to enforce its decisions.  

The Rome Statute serves as a prime example of the interplay between international and national rule of law efforts. The ICC is complementary to national jurisdictions and is an important catalyst for domestic systems of justice. Security Council support for national capacity-building for justice is an important investment for peace and security. Efforts to target rule of law assistance to serve this aim need to be strengthened.

Special attention should be paid to the access to justice for women, children and vulnerable groups. Specialized courts, for example family courts or mobile courts are tools to help to bring justice closer to women and children.  

With regard to the Secretary General’s initiatives to support creation of national judicial capacities to prosecute perpetrators of serious international crimes, we would like to refer to the European network of contact points in respect of persons responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, set up in 2002.  

Mr. President, 

Regarding conflict and post conflict situations, we emphasise the need to improve greater quality, coordination and coherence of the engagement of the UN and its members. The UN should devote special attention to the strengthening of the mediation activities and ensuring that such activities duly factor in justice issues, including prosecution of the perpetrators of atrocities, and reject amnesties and immunities for the most egregious crimes. We also encourage the Secretary-General to proceed in ensuring that the UN responds to requests for assistance in constitution-making and legislative reform processes.   

Through the Instrument for Stability, often developed through supporting UN agencies’ initiatives, the EU provides assistance in the field of the rule of law to countries going through or emerging from a crisis. The EU appreciates these synergies, and is pleased to contribute to international concerted efforts in this field.   

For instance, timely support has been provided to support constitutional processes in countries emerging from political turmoil and moving towards re-establishing national unity and a democratic future. Support was also provided to key legislative processes for the implementation of new constitutions (e.g. in Bolivia, Zimbabwe, Kirghizstan).  

Also, many of the EU civilian crisis management operations carried out by the European Union in the context of its Common Security and Defense Policy focus on the rule of law. 

The most prominent example is the EU’s Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo under the general framework of Resolution 1244. More than 2000 EU civilian experts are assisting the Kosovo authorities in all areas related to the rule of law, in particular in the police, judiciary, customs and correctional services ensuring best practices. 

Through the EU Integrated Rule of Law Mission for Iraq, the EU contributes to the establishment of a professional Iraqi criminal justice system. 

Thank you, Mr. President. 

[1] Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

[2] Iceland continues to be a member of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area.

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