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Sixty-ninth session,
6th & 7th Meetings (AM & PM)
GA/L/3478

Access to Justice Critical in Ensuring Rule of Law, Speakers Stress as Sixth Committee Continues Deliberations on Principle

Access to justice must be ensured if a society were to be truly based on the rule of law, Sixth (Legal) Committee delegations emphasized today as they continued their deliberations on the principle and shared national practices.

Lebanon’s representative said access to justice was deeply rooted in his country’s law, with the Constitution ensuring the right to have one’s case heard by an impartial and competent tribunal.  Stressing that access to justice required people’s awareness of the law, he said that legislation only came into effect after being publicized in the official journal.

Like other delegations, Thailand’s representative also stressed that States had the primary responsibility to provide equitable access to justice, especially to vulnerable groups.  To raise awareness on that access, information on people’s rights to State compensation was being disseminated and made available in every provincial justice office in the country.

In addition to raising awareness, many delegations pointed to the availability of institutions as a key component in providing access to justice.  In Morocco, that country’s representative said, the office of the Ombudsman, as well as an equity and reconciliation body that addressed human rights violations, were some of the institutions that facilitated access to justice for Moroccan citizens.

Similarly, the delegate of Peru cited the implementation of a public defence service in his country that provided counsel to the indigent and vulnerable, and the ombudsman’s offices that provided support to those seeking redress from misconduct by the Government.  Those were some of the ways in which his country had achieved significant progress in providing fair, transparent, non-discriminatory legal services.

Delegations also stressed that, when addressing the needs of marginalized persons, it was critical that legal services be affordable in order to ensure the provision of access to justice.

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania noted that established advocates in her country were encouraged to take on pro-bono cases on behalf of the poor, marginalized and vulnerable groups.  As well, a bill underway would not only facilitate Government contribution to legal aid, but also recognize paralegals as an important group that provides legal assistance and counselling in rural areas, making access to justice a reality.

Echoing his counterpart, South Africa’s representative said that his country was a leading advocate for improved access to counsel for indigent and marginalized persons.  In June of this year, the first large scale International Conference on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems had been convened in Johannesburg to address challenges in the provision of legal aid for the criminally accused.

Despite such efforts, legal aid could and should go beyond the criminal justice system, said the United States’ representative.  He encouraged the Committee to include promoting access to health and housing, education and employment, and fostering family stability and community well-being, as States pursued societies based on the rule of law.

Also speaking were representatives of Nicaragua, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Philippines, Argentina, Senegal, Brazil, Zambia, Kyrgyzstan, Burkina Faso, Slovenia, Nigeria, Estonia, Turkey, Myanmar, Algeria, Guinea, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iran, Austria, China, Syria, Mexico, Eritrea, Montenegro, India, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Armenia, Sierra Leone, Georgia, Malawi and Kuwait.  A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross also participated.

The Committee will meet to conclude consideration of strengthening the rule of law on the national and international levels and to take up the Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its forty-seventh session at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, 13 October.

Background

The Sixth Committee would continue its deliberations on the rule of law at the national and international levels.  For background see Press Release GA/L/3477.

Statements

Mr. HITTI (Lebanon) said that access to justice was deeply embedded in Lebanese law, noting that the preamble to his country’s Constitution ensured the right to have one’s case heard by an impartial and competent tribunal.  Furthermore, Lebanese legislation guaranteed the right for any individual, whether Lebanese or foreign, to seek remedy before the courts.  As access to justice also implied knowledge of the law, Lebanese law went into effect once it was publicized in the official journal.  The country was enhancing collaboration with non-governmental organizations, civil society and United Nations bodies to ensure greater visibility of its legal arsenal to foreigners.  Among those efforts was a unified contract to protect domestic migrant workers.  The country was also following the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

LILIAN A. MUKASA (United Republic of Tanzania), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said a brand new Constitution had been recently endorsed by the Constituent Assembly, and citizens were expected to vote in a referendum to approve it.  She noted that the Secretary-General’s report stated that a major obstacle to accessing justice was the cost involved in legal aid and representation services.  In that regard, her Government had made deliberate efforts to increase the number of State attorneys, judges, and magistrates, as well as build new courts and renovate old ones.  Established advocates were being encouraged to take up pro-bono cases on behalf of the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable groups.  A bill underway would not only facilitate Government contribution to legal aid provision in the country, but also recognize paralegals as an important cadre to provide legal assistance and counselling in rural areas, making access to justice a reality.

JUANA SANDOVAL (Nicaragua), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that among her country’s core principles were the search for peace and the right to self-determination, and she expressed support for the Palestinian people and their right to use all legal means to that end.  Always seeking peaceful means to resolve disputes, she pointed out her country’s recourse to the International Court of Justice.  Nicaragua was party to numerous sub-regional, regional and international instruments.  Rejecting unilateral measures, such as the blockade of Cuba, she demanded it be lifted.  Such unilateral actions undermined the rule of law, which must start with reform of the United Nations.  It was necessary to consolidate the central role of the General Assembly as the sole body with universal membership.  On a national level, there were Citizens’ Councils giving the people a voice in the country’s political life.  She called on all countries that had not done so to recognize the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.

OLEKSANDR PAVLICHENKO (Ukraine) said that the matter at hand had special importance to his country, as the United Nations Monitoring Mission in Ukraine had found serious problems with the rule of law, including wide-scale corruption, systematic police and law enforcement abuses, and lack of an independent judiciary.  Nonetheless, despite ongoing foreign aggression, his country had conducted transparent and fair elections.  The President had identified areas of reforms in the judiciary, tax, entrepreneurship regulation, and health care sectors, to name a few, and had emphasized that those reforms must be realized by all branches of power, civil society and business.  A lack of responsibility and impunity for human rights violations and treaties had been among the main causes of aggression in his country and attempted annexation of Crimea.  Unfortunately, despite support by almost all Member States, an abuse of the veto power had blocked any practical measures by the Security Council.  In taking advantage of the veto power, that Member State had committed an aggression against his country.  The veto power of permanent members of the Council was not a privilege, but a duty and responsibility to take care of global peace and security.  Abuse of it undermined the authority and credibility of the United Nations.  In that regard, he welcomed the initiative related to non-use of the veto in case of mass atrocities.

YIDNEKACHEW GEBRE-MESKEL ZEWDU (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the challenge was not “the general expression of commitment to the rule of law”, but ensuring practice to the rule of law.  Over the past 20 years, his country had made progress to establish the rule of law as the basis of governance, and citizens now counted on the State to carry out its obligations.  The country was strengthening democratic institutions and building capacity of the civil service and civil society and the participation of the public at all levels of governance.  Further, Ethiopia had come a long way in strengthening law enforcement institutions.  Still, there was far to go in implementing the rule of law.  To that end, he welcomed and appreciated support from the United Nations and Member States, particularly towards capacity-building.

PHAM QUANG HIEU (Viet Nam), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that his country, as an ASEAN member State, had actively contributed to and remained committed to further intensifying its efforts towards a politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible ASEAN Community.  ASEAN, which would become a rules-based Community in 2015, would help build a region of peace, stability and prosperity founded upon international law, and develop common rules and norms for the region.  He emphasized the importance of full implementation of the Declaration on the Code of Conduct of parties in the South China Sea.  As well, his country had revised its Constitution, aiming to further facilitate the building of a law-governed State.

LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country had a comprehensive legal framework on access to justice, and gave an overview of a number of its provisions. Among them were the right of indigents to defence counsel; an interface between informal and formal justice systems; and a shari’a system in place in Muslim Mindanao.  He had presented the Philippines’ position on the peaceful settlement of the disputes in the South China Sea in a letter to the Secretary-General, and called for State parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to clearly define and publicize the limits of their respective maritime zones.  The Philippine approach to resolving the “provocative and destabilizing activities” in the South China Sea called for, among other things, the cessation of specific activities that escalated tensions and recourse to arbitration in resolving the issue.  Although another State party to UNCLOS had been invited to do so, it had rejected that peaceful invitation.

FERNANDA MILLICAY (Argentina), associating herself with CELAC, said that she welcomed “access to justice” being made part of goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals.  However, she would have preferred a much more ambitious goal, one that included all human rights.  She underscored the importance of regional cooperation and coordination mechanisms in promoting the rule of law in Latin America, in particular the adoption of democratic clauses.  In the peaceful settlement of disputes, the International Court of Justice played a central role.  As well, there were other specialized tribunals, such as the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, whose jurisdiction had been accepted by her country.  She emphasized that third parties to a dispute must refrain from conduct that could frustrate the fulfilment by parties of their obligation to peacefully resolve the dispute.

IBRAHIMA SORY SYLLA (Senegal), associating with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country was working towards a rule of law system based on human rights, and individual and collective liberty.  A free and independent press and a democratic society formed a solid basis for Senegalese society.  Still, there were concerns regarding corruption in the country.  To that end, a court on the repression of illicit enrichment had been established, as well as a national office on fraud and corruption.  In addition, there was a national committee on the restitution of illegally gained assets.  His Government had introduced a new concept of courts that would inform people of their rights and duties, and initiate action towards conclusion of conflicts.  It was important to share best practices, bearing in mind the specifics of institutional development in each country.

MOHAMMED ATLASSI (Morocco), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that his country, already a party to many conventions and treaties, had committed to ratifying other instruments aimed at protecting human health and the environment.  Morocco was also one of the first countries to sign the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Since its independence, it had aimed to increase the performance of its institutions and consolidation of the rule of law.  It had created the institution of Moroccan Ombudsman, reformed the family code to improve the status of women, and had implemented an equity and reconciliation body to undertake inquiries into human rights violations and reparations.  As well, a new Constitution had been adopted by referendum, which underscored respect for human rights, and reform of the justice system and access to justice had been implemented, in order to ensure equality for its citizens.

THEMBILE JOYINI (South Africa), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that access to justice and the rule of law could be strengthened through the provision of legal aid, particularly for the poor and vulnerable.  As an original sponsor of the “United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in the Criminal Justice Systems”, adopted by the General Assembly in 2012, his country was a leading advocate for improved access to counsel for indigent and marginalized persons.  In June of this year, the first large scale International Conference on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems was convened in Johannesburg to address challenges in the provision of legal aid for the criminally accused.  Pointing out that “access to justice” was included in goal 16 of the proposed Sustainable Development, he said the rule of law should uplift the disadvantaged in society through the provision of essential services and the fulfilment of socio-economic rights.  The international community must also be governed by a system in which international law was equally enforced and independently adjudicated.  Although Member States’ judicial systems had different approaches, priorities and cultures, the right to free legal assistance to criminal defendants unable to afford a lawyer was an essential component of the right to a fair trial.

ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil), associating himself with CELAC, said that ensuring national ownership was key in the promotion of the rule of law and in strengthening institutional capacities in pursuit of sustainable development.  His country had adopted legislation and policy to foster alternative dispute resolution methods, recognizing that mediation and reconciliation was quicker and had a less budgetary impact.  Also, that method was based on actual engagement by parties, and thus led to a high rate of acceptance and spontaneous compliance.  He underscored that no single country was exempt from compliance with its obligations.  Reform of the Security Council was needed to ensure effective and fair representation.  In addition, the lack of funding for the Programme of Assistance, whose main purpose was to foster the rule of law, must be overcome, he stated, stressing that education in international law was a cornerstone of lasting peace.

MWABA P. KASESE-BOTA (Zambia), aligning her delegation with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, pointed to her country’s construction of legal aid offices in all provincial centres, ensuring the right to a free and fair trial.  In addition, a Small Claims Court had been established as evidence of Zambia’s strong adherence to the rule of law.  Her Government had instituted several initiatives and laws, including the Anti-Gender-based Violence Act, the establishment of several judicial oversight institutions, and the adoption of zero tolerance for corruption.  On an international level, she pointed to Zambia’s contribution of troops and other personnel to conflicts worldwide, and pledged their continued assistance.  However, the need for reform of the Security Council was underscored, as the governing structure of the United Nations must give equal comfort to all its members.

NURAN NIYAZALIEV (Kyrgyzstan) said that his country’s National Strategy for Sustainable Development, which outlined the way forward for 2013-2017, identified as main priorities the formation of a State governed by the rule of law, with guarantees of law enforcement and the advancement of its citizens’ legal culture. Moreover, last year, the country had adopted a State Program for the Development of the Judicial System for 2013-2017.  Providing the rule of law and human rights remained a difficult challenge for developing countries due to the lack of resources to support relevant institutions and mechanisms in need of reform, he said, calling for those factors to be considered within the framework of the United Nations and multilateral partnership.

NORACHIT SINHASENI (Thailand), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that dialogue among States on advancing the rule of law was crucial to enhancing national practices and the global effort to strengthen the principle.  For that reason, Thailand had hosted the “Bangkok Dialogue on the Rule of Law: Investing in the Rule of Law, Justice and Security for the Post-2015 Development Agenda”.  States had the primary responsibility to provide equitable access to justice and promoting and protecting the rights of all people, especially vulnerable groups.  To that end, his country was disseminating information on people’s rights to State compensation, available in every provincial justice office in the country, and was requiring all State organs to perform their duties based on the rule of law, without discrimination.  Measures had also been taken to provide basic healthcare and humane treatment to women offenders, as well as towards their rehabilitation, among others.  He then enumerated recent ratification of several international instruments, and how domestic laws were being amended to meet international obligations.

DER KOGDA (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that advancement of the rule of law at the international level could prosper only if it were linked to a State’s national plan.  Since his country’s establishment of a democratic system, it had worked to regularly hold elections, and established institutions and other entities to enable their citizens to thrive and to protect their human rights.  Since 2006, a process of integral decentralization had been established to allow local populations be, by themselves and for themselves, creators of their own social and economic development.  The Government and its partners had worked to strengthen human capacity and had supported development initiatives of local collectives.  As well, it had adopted a national plan of justice to strengthen the judiciary’s independence.  A host of laws had also been created to provide legal assistance to the disadvantaged and establish legal clinics.

ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia), associating himself with the European Union, said that as there were no peaceful societies without accessible and accountable justice, there could not be any significant sustainable development without the rule of law fight against corruption.  Special attention should be devoted to the prevention of mass atrocities and the fight against impunity, and it was Member States’ shared responsibility to implement all three pillars of the principle of the responsibility to protect.  His country, as a contact point for the Eastern European Group on the ratification of the Kampala amendments, had organized with Liechtenstein a regional seminar on the matter.  The International Criminal Court was essential in the establishment of the rule of law, he said, calling upon States to ratify or accede to the Rome Statute.

TOPE ADE ELIAS-FATILE (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group, said his country’s Constitution provided the basis for a rule-of-law approach to governance at the national level.  Its law-making process was people-oriented and particularly sensitive to the needs of the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in society.  It had implemented relevant international instruments and recommended practices, such as the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, to promote an open Government, as well as the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 and the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2011, to give impetus to the global fight against terrorism, terrorist financing and economic crimes.  Nigerian courts, as a result of its constitutional provisions, had traditionally been known to be objective, non-partisan and unbiased in the delivery of justice.  Its judicial system continued to play a pivotal role in the advancement and elaboration of people’s rights through effective oversight of the actions of the executive and legislative branches of Government.  The judiciary’s role as the final arbiter among the three branches of Government in the electoral process thus created an enabling environment for peace and stability to thrive in his country.

STEPHEN TOWNLEY (United States) stressed that Member States should seek a “tangible, step by step progress” in United Nations forums in furthering of the rule of law.  An example was the recent verdict from the Trial Chambers of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia, which marked an important step forward to secure justice for that country’s people.  Much more work needed to be done, however, and the Organization should bolster its support for the Chambers.  Since his country’s 2012 pledge to address domestic violence, protections to victims in Native American communities had been extended, better rape investigation tools to law enforcement had been provided, and new initiatives to combat sexual assault among young people had been implemented.  His Government supported the United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in the Criminal Justice Systems, but noted that legal aid “can and should” go beyond the criminal justice system.  That should include promoting access to health and housing, education and employment, and fostering family stability and community well-being.  Using the United States Legal Services Corporation Act as an example, he highlighted the value of civil legal aid in the access to justice for all Member states.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, said that his country had achieved significant progress in establishing fair, transparent, non-discriminatory legal services and promoting access to justice for all, including the most vulnerable.  He cited as examples, among others, the implementation of a public defence service that provided counsel to the indigent and vulnerable; a variety of means to settle disputes; and ombudsman’s offices providing support to those seeking redress from governmental misconduct.  Rule of law, nationally and internationally, was important to sustaining human growth, particularly in the areas of justice and economic reform.  He hailed the final document of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, which should form the basis for the formulating of those goals.

GERT AUVAART (Estonia), associating himself with the European Union, said effective and accountable institutions were powerful enablers for sustainable development, in which modern digital technology played a valuable role.  In that regard, his country had developed an e-governance system that increased transparency and helped eliminate corruption.  It had offered such a system to all countries, and would continue to do so.  Noting the International Criminal Court’s important role, especially in the quest to end impunity, he called on countries that had not yet done so to join the Rome Statute, and urged State Parties to ratify the Kampala amendments.

IPEK ZEYTINOGLU OZKAN (Turkey) said that structural reforms in her country in the field of rule of law and good governance had paved the way for increased direct foreign investment and sustained economic growth.  An independent judiciary enforcing fair laws based on the principle of equality had built citizens’ trust in the administration of justice, which was key to a stable, prosperous society.  Since the start of the 2000s, Turkey’s judiciary had been reinforced to guarantee fundamental rights and freedoms, strengthening its independence, impartiality and effectiveness.  As a country that had recently experienced profound economic progress and democratic advancement, she offered to share best practices in the field of access to justice and the rule of law.

U PAW LWIN SEIN (Myanmar) said that since the present Government had taken office, rapid development of legislation had occurred, thanks to legal reform measures.  Listing recent laws which had been enacted or had come into force, as well as commissions put into place, he noted Myanmar’s mindfulness that all national laws must be in line with international law.  His country welcomed capacity-building programmes and technical assistance from the United Nations system for law enforcement institutions.  In addition, a National Human Rights Commission recently had been established where people could file complaints of their rights’ violations.  As well, Myanmar had recently signed, ratified or acceded to numerous international instruments, including the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention).

MOHAMED SALAH EDDINE BELAID (Algeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, called for United Nations reforms that would promote the rule of law at a global level, such as a “more harmonious balance” between the General Assembly and the Security Council, and comprehensive reform of the Security Council to correct “the historical injustice done to the African Continent”.  Algeria had ratified or joined all major international treaties and conventions, and integrated their provisions in its own legal system.  In addition, his Government had made efforts towards incorporating the rule of law nationally, by strengthening democracy and access to justice, advancing human rights, and building a strong economy.  Algeria was ranked first in the Arab and Muslim world for female representation in the National Assembly, at 31.6 per cent.  The country played a decisive role in the stabilization of the volatile Maghreb-Shael region, and had assisted in eradicating terrorism and restoring peace and security among its neighbours.

Mr. BALDE (Guinea), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his Government had proclaimed 2013 as the year of justice.  Satisfactory results had emerged from that strategy, including the establishment of a high judiciary council of judges, tasked with guaranteeing the professionalism of their peers, including the imposition of sanctions for wrongdoing in exercise of their functions.  As well, better living conditions for judges were granted to remove the temptation of corruption and guarantee judiciary independence.  Court buildings had also been reconstructed following their destruction in 2006.  His country had also carried out genuine reform in its defence and security sectors.  Specific courses were being given in the maintenance of order, integrating all aspects of international humanitarian law and human rights law.  The success of that reform had allowed the strengthening of its armed and peacekeeping forces in the country and in the rest of world.  Investigations following massacres and rapes carried out in 2009 by the security forces of the military junta had culminated in the indictment of responsible individuals.

AISHATH SHAHULA (Maldives) said that, with complete separation of power, his country was “staunchly and unyieldingly” committed to the rule of law.  Peaceful multi-party elections had been held in 2013, and during the past six years, laws and policies that ensured basic social protection of those most in need had been enacted.  Listing recent national legislation, her Government had entered into force instruments that addressed domestic violence, human trafficking, and other measures aimed at protecting the most vulnerable people in society.  She also noted international human rights mechanisms to which her country was party.  Democratization was realized through a partnership between the State and the governed, and it was imperative that the rule of law remained meaningfully integrated in the post-2015 development agenda.

PALITHA KOHONA (Sri Lanka) said that in accommodating cultural, ethnic and religious disparities within its legal framework, his country’s Constitutional provisions had contributed to the promotion and protection of many groups, including minority groups.  Among access to justice available to Sri Lankans, an aggrieved person could invoke the judiciary by those provisions without the assistance of an attorney.  Recent efforts by the international community to tackle the threat of terrorism had brought difficulties in balancing national and security concerns with human rights obligations.  The United Nations role with regard to institutionalizing multilateralism had been critical, and the Charter’s emphasis on national sovereignty and non-interference in the domestic affairs of states was the bulwark of the current international order.

MAHE U.S. TUPOUNIUA (Tonga) said that his country participated in the Pacific Judicial Development Programme, which aimed to strengthen governance and rule of law in the region through enhanced access to justice and independent judicial officers.  Tonga also had taken steps to facilitate women’s participation in the judicial sphere through UN Women’s “Advancing Gender Justice in the Pacific Programme”.  At the international level, he said that with disappearing islands and territories negatively impacting borders and the resultant potential for vast movements of people seeking refuge from the threat, the Security Council should see climate change as a threat to international peace and security, and decide on the appropriate behaviour of States in that regard.  The International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal Law of the Sea were of great importance in developing environmental law and law of the sea.  Their past judgments had established a due diligence standard in environmental international law that played a key role in climate change issues, and their advisory powers were also important to the management of seabed resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

ARY APRIANTO (Indonesia), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that access to justice was mandated by the Indonesian Constitution, and was one of the country’s five philosophical foundations.  That had evolved from providing public access to legal aid to the total reform of the Indonesian legal system.  He stressed that legal reform should follow the character of the people, their customs, traditions and values.  The country’s national strategy on access to justice, which focused on making human and institutional capacity-building a priority and strengthening transparency in the legislative process, entailed a long-term effort to strengthen the values of social justice in the legal curricula and ongoing training for law enforcement officials, among other measures.  It also entailed strengthening transparency in the legislative process through increased participation by civil society, educational institutions and other stakeholders.  Creating a sense of ownership encouraged people to speak out in defence of their rights.  Attention had also been given to women’s access to justice.

A.K. ABDUL MOMEN,(Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said that his country, the world’s seventh largest democracy, had undertaken national reforms to promote the rule of law.  It had strengthened its Anti-Corruption Commission, established a Human Rights Commission and formed an Information Commission to provide free information access.  In 2013, the Government had passed the Neuro Development Disabilities Act to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities, and the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act to protect people in custody.  Bangladesh was the top troop and police contributor to United Nations Peacekeeping missions, but also a supporter of peaceful resolution of conflict.  He called on Member states to not encourage a ‘double standard’ or selective application of laws, and to encourage mediation and constructive dialogues.

HOSSEIN GHARIBI (Iran), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country’s Constitution guaranteed the indisputable right of every citizen to seek justice.  Everyone could refer matters to competent courts, and no one could be barred from courts to which he had a legal right of recourse.  The Constitution also provided that parties to a lawsuit had the right to select an attorney, and if they were unable to do so, arrangements must be made to provide them with legal counsel.  The Code of Criminal Procedure provided for the appointment of a public defender, whenever the court deemed that the defendant could not afford to hire an attorney.  In grave crimes, an attorney for the accused was mandatory; in cases when the accused was unable to have his own attorney, the court appointed a Government-paid public defender.  To facilitate access to justice across the country, the judiciary had operated the electronic network to allow the filing of civil claims online at the disposal of every citizen.  The new system had made access to justice considerably faster and easier with increased transparency.

STEPHEN MATTHIAS KOPPANYI (Austria), aligning with the European Union, said that international law and the rule of law were the foundations of the international system.  A strong supporter of the International Criminal Court, Austria had recently ratified the Kampala amendments to its Statute.  International human rights treaties should be internationalized.  Since access to justice was an important element of the rule of law, Austria welcomed the Secretary-General’s report.  Good governance and the rule of law were essential for economic growth and sustainable development, and were therefore crucial elements for the success of the post-2015 development agenda.  Austria’s efforts to promote the rule of law did not serve an abstract goal, but the protection of the rights and interests of individuals.

LI YONGSHENG (China) recalled that this year was the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence, which his country had co-initiated with Myanmar and India, incorporating the rule of law as one of the operating principles.  He expressed hope that future work on the principle by the United Nations would be “more open and transparent”.  His country was pressing forward with comprehensive development of the rule of law in accordance with its strategy of governing by law, with a view to building a socialist country with the rule of law.  He cited examples from 1984 to the present for the waiving, postponement and reduction of litigation fees, noting that from 2008 to 2012 Chinese courts had waived or reduced 769 million renminbi yuan of litigation fees.  China also enhanced the system of crime victim assistance, with the justice system providing 25,996 victims more than 350 million renminbi yuan in relief funds between 2009 and 2011.  It was currently exploring a system of relief in judgment enforcement for winning parties.  A structure of legal aid had “basically taken shape” as a result of nearly two decades of development.

KOUSSAY ABDULJABBAR ALDAHHAK (Syrian Arab Republic), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized that it was neither possible nor acceptable to insist on rule of law only in certain countries.  Obstacles were due to selectivity, double standards and the politicization of issues that certain countries engaged in.  Certain countries had broad definitions of concepts that did not enjoy consensus in the international community.  Certain countries in the region supported the terrorism from which his country was suffering, counter to the rule of law, sending in mercenaries from around the world whose extremist ideas had nothing to do with any religion, civilization or humanity, and whose barbaric atrocities upon the people of Syria and Iraq, as well as from other countries, constituted a threat to the region and the world.  Unfortunately, the Organization’s failure to hold those countries accountable was not in keeping with what those countries claimed was the rule of law.  The principle was not compatible with the unilateral imposition of opinions on other countries, including his, he said, and it could not reign while the Syrian Golan and other Palestinian territories were occupied, nor while the occupying authority continued to commit atrocities.

Mr. SOUSA (Mexico), associating himself with CELAC, said that rule of law was a cross-cutting subject that touched on various aspects of the General Assembly’s work.  In that regard, it was impractical to limit its consideration to the Sixth Committee alone.  There could be no sound rule of law without modern and efficient institutions.  As part of reforms his country had undertaken, a code for criminal procedures was in place, which would enable the uniform application of judicial criteria.  Stressing the importance of national ownership, he said Member States must lead rule of law processes.  The more than 400 voluntary pledges made relating to the High Level Declaration reflected a plethora of opportunities to make progress on the rule of law and a high quality of experiences in dealing with its promotion.  His country stood ready to share its experiences in that regard.

HELENE AWET WOLDEYOHANNES (Eritrea), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the international dimension of the rule of law needed greater attention, as it was seriously impacting Eritrea’s national effort to strengthen its normative frameworks and capable institutions.  Nationally, she said community courts enhanced people’s access to justice at lower cost, thus providing access to the larger community, including to the poor.  Further, recent changes to the jurisdiction of courts, refinements of procedural laws and new laws strengthening enforcement gave citizens access to judicial services where they lived.  Towards empowering women, female genital mutilation and underage marriage had been criminalized.  Women’s right to own property and equal pay for equal work had been entrenched in law, and 30 per cent of parliamentary seats were reserved for women.  Social justice initiatives also included reducing the disparity between rural and urban populations.  As well, efforts were underway to bridge the gender and diversity gap.

MILORAD ŠCEPANOVIĆ (Montenegro), associating himself with the European Union, stressed the individual responsibility of countries to strengthen the rule of law and promote human rights, as well as the role of the United Nations in providing support to those efforts.  He acknowledged the importance of the International Criminal Court and other international tribunals in fighting impunity.  The rule of law and a well-functioning justice sector supported inclusive growth and development.  Improving access to justice, reducing violence, promoting human rights and ensuring effective, fair and accountable institutions were important to developing and developed countries alike.  All countries could improve in those areas.  Impartial access to justice and the fight against impunity were essential elements in the nexus between rule of law and development, which was why it was important that the post-2015 development agenda apply to rich and poor countries alike.

M. KOTESWARA RAO (India) reaffirmed the role of an independent, efficient, competent, national and “exclusively” sovereign system as the means to solve conflicts, ensure accountability and provide redress.  As outlined in the Declaration of the Rule of Law, all States should settle their differences by peaceful means, but it was essential that the Security Council undergo reform to make it broadly representative and transparent.  The 1947 adoption of the Indian Constitution guaranteed fundamental rights and freedoms to all citizens, including the right to a fair public hearing before an independent judicial body, and, since 1987, the provision of free legal aid.  New pro-active measures to promote access to justice had been undertaken, including the right to initiate legal proceedings through petition.  He pointed to the need for reform at the United Nations and its bodies, where there was “an abiding deficit of the rule of law in the institutions of global governance”.

NOUR ZARROUK BOUMIZA (Tunisia) said her country had developed a new Constitution, which was ratified in January of this year, that would lay the groundwork for a real democracy.  It included a separation of Government powers and access to justice, which also required the independence of the judiciary.  There is a new Constitutional court, which would contribute to protecting the freedoms and rights of their citizens.  Important strides in transitional justice were also being taken, with a new law in 2013 holding people responsible and accountable for harm.  The Truth and Dignity Authority, which investigated serious violations of human rights, and a programme to compensate victims of harm, had also been established.  Tunisia had proposed an international constitutional court to provide advice to all nations coming out of occupation, and to prevent rule of force.  She voiced hope it would find support from Member States.

FREDERICK SHAVA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the tendency to resort to force undermined development, peace, security, human rights and the rule of law.  Recent experience demonstrated that heavy handed interventions did not always bring about sustainable solutions, but instead cost lives, destroyed and degraded economic and social infrastructure and often left behind more unstable situations than those that had been intended to be resolved.  He cautioned States to avoid the use of unilateral punitive sanctions, from which his country suffered, as they undermined stability and socio-economic development, and expressed concern that the international criminal justice system operated in a selective manner, undermining confidence in it.  Nationally, he said the new “home grown” Constitution emphasized the separation of powers and the independence of judicial institutions.  All laws were being realigned with the new Constitution, and independent bodies had been set up in areas such as human rights, anti-corruption and media.

ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), associating with the Africa Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the international community should promote ratification and full implementation of core international treaties, concomitant with the required support some Member States might require for the latter.  In that context, he acknowledged the growing role of international institutions in upholding the rule of law, mainly in the field of international humanitarian law and the United Nations pledge to combat impunity.  At the national level, Mozambique had reviewed its Constitution and consolidated its fundamental guiding principles, thus advancing the democratic rule of law founded on freedom of expression, free political party affiliation and respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens.  Further, the country was also consolidating the role of oversight institutions and strengthening individual guarantees through an ombudsman’s office.  Mozambique had also strengthened its anti-corruption legislation and established administrative courts in every province.  Those reforms had been preceded by public consultations.

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia) said that as a nation that had experienced the first genocide of the twentieth century and continued to face its denial, Armenia reaffirmed its support for the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes, such as genocide and crimes against humanity.  Further, promoting the rule of law internationally was only possible if there were a strong domestic foundation.  Armenia’s Constitution guaranteed equality of all persons before the law, as well as equal access to justice.  Following independence, broad reforms and institution building had been needed.  One of the key building blocks had been the creation of a more efficient, effective, and independent judiciary.  To that end, a three-tiered structure of courts of general jurisdiction had been established.  A Constitutional amendment in 2005 aimed at ensuring greater judicial independence, and further reforms in 2007 introduced a doctrine analogous to precedent in common law systems.  Since last year, public discussions were underway on further improving governance systems and increasing accountability.

AMADU KOROMA (Sierra Leone), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Union Group, said his country had endeavoured to implement the rules of law after a devastating civil war lasting 11 years.  The country had been transformed from a fragile to a stable one, and was one of the fastest growing economies in the world.  It had also been able to hold successive general elections, acclaimed free and credible by international observers.  However, the present Ebola outbreak in their country was threatening to reverse the gains they had made so far, and he sought the Members’ support to overcome the deadly disease.  Nationally they had set up a review committee to reform the 20-year-old Constitution.  A hotly debated issue was the death penalty, for which there was now a moratorium.  Steps were being initiated to reform the police and the judiciary with greater access to justice at all levels. Other reforms included developing legal aid programs.  In addition, the new anti-Corruption act gave prosecutorial powers against any Government Minister or senior officials.INGA KANCHAVELI (Georgia) supported an effective interplay between national justice systems and the International Criminal Court in the fight against impunity.  Her country had been working to adjust Georgian legislation to international standards, and among other steps, had ratified the Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute.  Justice sector reforms continued to be a top priority of her Government, including strengthening the independence of the High Council of Justice, and ensuring the participation of judges in the formation of that Council, among other measures to ensure free and separate judicial decision-making.  Other judicial changes had been made to strengthen the institutional independence of the prosecutorial services and to ensure its impartiality.  A new law affording legal aid to citizens had been enacted, and new consultation centres were opened in ethnic regions and outside of major regional centres.

CHARLES MSOSA (Malawi), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Africa Group, said that following 30 years of dictatorship under a one-party State where the rule of law was never adhered to and many citizens became victims, his country had achieved multi-party democracy in 1994.  In May 2014, the country held its fifth transparent and internationally recognized elections to choose democratic leaders.  The Malawi Constitution had a bill of rights and the Government ensured that everyone enjoyed human rights.  In case of abuse, citizens had access to a variety of institutions and courts of law to seek redress.  The courts were independent and accessible to all citizens, including the poor and marginalized who were provided legal aid.  At the international level, Malawi was a signatory to the Rome Statute and a member of the International Court of Justice.

ABDULAZIZ A M A ALAJMI (Kuwait) said that his country’s judiciary had been independent since the forming of its Constitution in 1961.  He affirmed the Government’s support for the International Court of Justice and other international judicial bodies.  However, Israel had committed violations of laws and norms with its systematic attacks of Gaza, which resulted in more than 2,100 Palestinians victimised.  Israel had continued to impose blockades against Gaza, which were grave violations of the rule of law, and he demanded that the international community enforce the relevant international laws.  He pointed to growing terrorism around the world, and called on the international community to exert all efforts to fight the scourge.

Ms. GEOGHEGAN International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)) said that in armed conflict, upholding the rule of law strengthened the effectiveness of international humanitarian law, which States had the primary responsibility to respect and ensure respect for.  That required them to develop clear normative frameworks and strong judicial mechanisms, which included accountability measures, so as to prevent and punish serious violations of international humanitarian law. It was important to include a range of safeguards to ensure that all persons deprived of their liberty were protected from arbitrary detention and denial of their fundamental rights and freedoms.  Such safeguards included regulatory frameworks, such as inspection and complaint mechanisms, as well as judicial guarantees based on international humanitarian law and relevant international law.

For information media. Not an official record.