Statement by H.E. Archbishop Celestino
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
62nd session of the UN General Assembly
Before the Sixth Committee, on item 86:
The rule of law at the national and international levels
New York, 26 October 2007
re-enforcing values of peace, development and human rights are both the guiding
principles and the goals of this Organization. Their nexus and effectiveness is
guaranteed by the proper implementation of the rule of law. It is the rule of
law that creates the mechanisms to promote justice and peace, ensures
predictability and security to allow for the foundation of a stable economy, and
protects the dignity of every person regardless of one’s social, economic, or
increasingly globalized society, where people from different cultures meet more
frequently, migration occurs on a global scale and international trade propels
rapid global development, regulating the relations between and among States is
of utmost importance to ensure peaceful coexistence.
At the international level, the rule of law guarantees respect for even the
smallest of nations. It safeguards the ability of all States to voice their
legitimate concerns as equals in a forum of equals. Its rule restrains powerful
nations from lording it over the weaker ones. These principles are very relevant
to the ongoing reform of the Security Council and the revitalization of the
The role of the
United Nations in the creation and implementation of international treaties is
vital. By ensuring that the principles of free consent, good faith and pacta
sunt servanda are respected, this Organization guarantees that relations between
States are regulated by applicable international treaties and governed by
reason, justice and fair negotiations, rather than by fear, force or
these treaties, the United Nations must be a neutral arbitrator and must respect
the contracting intent and desire of the Parties. A treaty body system that
becomes opaque and unaccountable to States Parties runs the risk of undermining
the basic tenants of the rule of law and diminishes the credibility and
legitimacy of the United Nations as a promoter and guarantor of international
have a primary duty to ensure that treaties are respected. Selective enforcement
and selective observance of treaties are antithetical to the rule of law. It
would be preposterous to claim observance of the rule of law at a national level
if international treaties and international law are not observed.
benefits and value of faithful treaty implementation go beyond the rule of law.
Respect for treaties is also an excellent confidence-building measure, as it
promotes trust among Parties. This is particularly true in the area of
disarmament, in which the fear of treaty non compliance on the part of even just
one State Party paralyzes the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda. In fact,
it is easier to make others comply with their commitments if one complies with
However, not all
States have the technical capacity to cope with all their international
obligations. There is a growing gap between the development of international law
and the capacity of individual States to incorporate it into national
legislation and implement it. Thus technical assistance to these countries is of
utmost importance if observance of international law and treaties is to be had.
To this end, we note with interest the establishment of the Rule of Law
Coordination and Resource Group and we look forward to following its work in
promoting the rule of law.
against terrorism is necessary, but at the same time it must be established
through the drafting, adoption, and effective enforcement of juridical
instruments designed to tackle this violent menace with right reason. The rule
of law at times is difficult to apply to terrorists who have little or no
respect for it. However, States must not engage in measures antithetical to the
very principles that give them legitimacy through the rule of law.
The last few years have seen a greater focus on the rule of law at all levels.
Though this focus has not always been accompanied by action, some progress has
been achieved, particularly in the area of international criminal justice.
Individuals and peoples whose rights have been violated, such as in cases of
crimes against humanity, are given access to a justice system that serves the
truth and banishes fear, revenge, impunity and inequality before the law.
In the same vein,
further progress has also been made in the World Summit Outcome Document by
which, among others, all Member States affirmed the collective international
responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic
cleansing and crimes against humanity, and their willingness to take timely and
decisive collective action for this purpose, through the Security Council, when
peaceful means prove inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing
to do it. My delegation believes there is need to pursue the debate and
juridical codification along this very line, wherein sovereignty is not
understood as an absolute right and used as a shield against outside
involvement, but as a responsibility not merely to protect citizens, but also to
promote their welfare. Through the creation of legal norms, arbitration of legal
disputes and the establishment of safeguards, especially when States fail in
their responsibility to protect, the United Nations is called to be the
propulsive forum for the rule of law in all corners of the globe.
Thank you, Mr