What's In Blue

Posted Tue 18 Feb 2014

Rule of Law Debate and Presidential Statement

Tomorrow (19 February), the Council will hold an open debate on strengthening the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security. The foreign minister of Lithuania, Linas Linkevičius, will chair the meeting. The Secretary-General will brief the Council, and a presidential statement may be adopted.

The draft presidential statement was put under silence yesterday, and silence was broken by several members. As a result, Council members met today — their fourth meeting on the draft text– to try and finalise the text. As with some other recent negotiations of draft texts, the main disagreement was over references to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in relation to international and national accountability mechanisms as well as the role that peacekeeping operations can play in supporting international justice efforts of national authorities. It seems another contentious issue is having references to the Council following up on decisions relating to cooperation of states with international courts and tribunals.

In its concept note (S/2014/75), Lithuania suggested the open debate focus on strengthening the rule of law and rule of law institutions in particular through the Council’s peacekeeping and political missions. Accordingly, the draft presidential statement includes some related elements. In the current draft, the Council underscores that sustainable peace requires an integrated approach based on coherence between political, security, development, human rights and rule of law and justice activities. The draft presidential statement also emphasises the importance of the rule of law as one of the key elements of conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace building and highlights the importance of activities in the rule of law field in relation to the work of its peacekeeping and political missions. The draft presidential statement further stresses that peacekeeping missions may be mandated to provide support to national authorities in developing critical rule of law priorities, reforms and strategies to address the needs of the security sector, police, judicial institutions and corrections system to support states’ ability to provide critical functions in these fields, and as a vital contribution to building peace and ending impunity.

In terms of follow-up, the draft text being negotiated includes a request for the Secretary-General to provide a report by the end of 2015, taking into account Council members views, which assesses the internal institutional performance and the actual delivery of assistance by the UN in the key sectors identified in the statement. It seems the aim of this report would be to ensure proper coordination in planning and delivery of rule of law activities and to avoid overlap or duplication of efforts. Apparently this language is an attempt to find a compromise between members who want a follow up report from the Secretary-General and the suggestion for an external independent review (though the experts were to be designated by Council members) of the work of some UN bodies coordinating rule of law activities. Apparently the latter proposal was put forward by a Council member who is critical of the current reporting from these bodies.

The latest Secretary-General’s report concluded that a strategy for evaluating the rule of law did not exist and developing such a strategy should be a goal of the UN system, a task the Secretary-General has indicated he intends to undertake (S/2013/341). While several Council members are opposed to data collection and indicators for measuring rule of law developments as they believe this contradicts the notion of national ownership of building and developing rule of law institutions and national standards, the draft presidential statement does note the latest report and its recommendations and recognises the importance of developing a UN strategy for evaluating the rule of law.

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