“Strengthening the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security“ - Statement by H.E. Mr. Martin Sajdik, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations
I would now like to address the Council in my national capacity. It goes without saying that Austria aligns itself with the statement to be made by the European Union.
For many years, Austria has focused on the role of the Security Council in strengthening a rules based international system. In 2008, we presented a final report on Austria´s initiative on “The UN Security Council and the Rule of Law” with 17 specific recommendations, which was also published as a Security Council document (S/2008/270). During our membership in the Council, we have consistently worked with other delegations in order to implement and mainstream these recommendations in the Council’s daily business. Austria´s current membership in the Human Rights Council is a logical continuation of our long-term engagement to promote the respect for the rule of law and human rights.
The recent events in the Arab world show the timeliness of discussing the rule of law and transitional justice. A crucial aspect is accountability for serious international crimes. Austria therefore calls for full cooperation of all States with international and hybrid tribunals established by the UN or with its support. Moreover, all States must abide by and implement the resolutions adopted by the Council under Chapter VII, in particular when urged to fully cooperate with the ICC, including with regard to arrest and surrender of suspected perpetrators.
Cooperation and support by Member States is of particular importance with regard to the completion strategies and residual issues of such tribunals. In this context, we welcome the progress made in the establishment of the residual mechanism for ICTY and ICTR pursuant to resolution 1966 (2010) which will start its operation on 1 July this year.
Rule of law and transitional justice activities are now increasingly integrated into Security Council resolutions. Resolution 1894 (2009) on the protection of civilians, for example, highlighted the importance of a comprehensive approach to transitional justice initiatives and acknowledged the important role of accountability mechanisms as well as national reparation programs for victims in the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
As emphasized in the Secretary-General’s report to the Council on the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies, all rule of law programs and transitional justice mechanisms have to be planned and implemented in a manner sensitive to the specific needs and rights of women and children. Evaluations of the specific impact of transitional justice measures on marginalized groups of society should be conducted on a more systematic basis. In view of the unique and disproportionate effects of conflict on women and children, we must enhance our efforts to ensure women’s access to justice. We also need to provide for minimum standards for the participation of children in transitional justice mechanisms. For children who have been associated with armed groups, for example, the focus should be on non-judicial, restorative accountability mechanisms that take the child’s interest into account as well as on socio-economic reintegration. All these critical elements are part and parcel of a comprehensive approach in fragile situations as has been emphasized by Austria in the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding last year.
Furthermore, the report rightly highlights the need for the Security Council itself to adhere to basic rule of law principles to ensure the legitimacy of its actions. In this regard, Austria welcomes the substantial improvements of the procedures within the Al-Qaida sanctions regime, including the recent strengthening of the Office of the Ombudsperson, and encourages the Council to further broaden and enhance due process, also with regard to other sanction regimes.
Allow me to conclude by pointing to the High-Level Meeting in September 2012 on the rule of law at the national and international levels. This Meeting could provide the ideal opportunity for the launch of a new inclusive global dialogue forum, which convenes all relevant stakeholders – national authorities, multilateral bodies, regional organizations, civil society and the private sector – and help consolidate the current fragmented approach of rule of law assistance.
Finally, I would once again like to thank South Africa for convening today’s meeting. We call on the Security Council to hold open debates on the rule of law on a regular basis in the future.