UN Security Council Open Debate on Justice and the Rule of Law: Statement by Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, New York, 19 January 2012
I wish to express my thanks to South Africa for taking up Justice and Rule of Law in the Security Council today and for giving the wider membership the opportunity to debate this topic which is very important for my country, Finland.
I also congratulate the Secretary-General and his Rule of Law Resource and Coordination Group, ably supported by the Rule of Law Unit, for an excellent report that we have before us today. The report gives many valuable recommendations for the Council’s consideration of the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies. We are very supportive of the full implementation of these recommendations
Finland aligns itself with the Statement of the European Union. In addition I would like to make short remarks on two interrelated issues: (1) rule of law and transitional justice in peace processes, mediation and peace agreements and (2) access to justice for women, children and vulnerable groups, including attention and reparations to victims in the aftermath of a conflict.
The rule of law in the context of peace and security has been debated by this Council for almost a decade now. In that time a common understanding has emerged about the centrality of justice and the rule of law to the prevention of conflicts and the sustainability of peace agreements. When bringing warring parties to a negotiation table a particular challenge is to address the legacy of the conflict and to address the simultaneous requirements of stability and justice in a balanced way.
In his report to the Council the Secretary General confirms that the UN policy to reject any endorsement of amnesty for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, or gross violations of human rights is increasingly reflected in peace agreements, ceasefires and other arrangements. Blanket amnesties are considerably less pervasive today than ten years ago. Despite this positive development, however, we agree with the Secretary General’s conclusion that a lot remains to be done, as incorporation of justice and accountability measures in peace agreements remains uneven. This is an area where we stand ready to work together with the UN, this Council and all Member States to further enhance the quality of mediation, the resulting peace agreements and their implementation.
Human rights violations and the need for justice cannot be overlooked in the name of stability. Peace can only be sustainable if it goes hand in hand with justice and respect for human rights. There should be a multi-faceted and rightly sequenced transitional justice strategy to address the legacy of violations of human rights and international law, including prosecutions, truth-seeking, reparations and institutional reform. They all contribute to reconciliation and the strengthening of the rule of law which in turn contributes to preventing relapses to conflict. The World Bank Development Report 2011 demonstrates that providing improved security, justice and jobs is a precondition for a successful transition to stability. If one of these elements is missing, transitions are less likely to succeed.
In post-conflict situations, where the need for justice is greatest, the structures to deliver it may have collapsed or lost their legitimacy. It is therefore important to ensure that the rule of law is fully taken into account in all reform and reconstruction efforts undertaken in conflict and post-conflict situations. In so doing priority should be given to access to justice for those who often suffer disproportionately from the conflict and whose voices are unfortunately still the weakest in the peace negotiations and post-conflict processes: women, children and marginalized groups.
In his report the Secretary General recommends a UN policy to ensure the full inclusion of marginalized populations. Good progress is being made by the UN actors to advance women’s access to justice in post-conflict situations. I would also like to commend the work of the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law of the SRSG for Sexual Violence in Conflict in this regard.
Children need our attention. The Secretary General in his report recommends the development of common minimum standards on children and transitional justice. Finland fully supports that call and I am happy to invite you all to the Mission of Finland right after this debate to attend a meetingon Child Sensitive Approach to Transitional Justice together with the International Center for Transitional Justice and the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict. Two groundbreaking reports on this important emerging topic will be discussed and we hope good recommendations will emerge.
Another area where Finland would like to see progress made is reparations for victims of conflict and of serious violations. We believe that innovative measures such as collective reparations or measures that create economic and employment opportunities could greatly contribute not only to justice being done but also to the broader goal of peacebuilding.
Let me assure you that although I did not mention many pertinent issues such as the role of the International Court of Justice, the importance of the International Criminal Court and the support for the implementation of the principle of complementarity to its fullest extent, or due process considerations of the sanctions regimes, our support for all the essential building blocks of the rule of law both at the international and national level is unwavering.
I thank you for the opportunity to address the Council and stand ready to work with the Council and the whole UN membership in advancing the rule of law.
Thank you, Mr. President.