2004.10.06: Justice and the Rule of Law

H.E. Ambassador Kim Sam-hoon, Permanent Representative, at Open Debate of the Security Council 

Mr. President,

On behalf of my delegation, I would like to thank you for initiating this important discussion of the rule of law and transitional justice. As the Secretary-General made clear in his address to the General Assembly last month, we are duty-bound to protect, enhance and extend the rule of law to all people in all places, including societies that are making the difficult transition from conflict to peace.

In this regard, we welcome the report of the Secretary-General as being comprehensive and realistic in pointing the way forward. The Secretary-General’s recommendations in Paragraph 64 are worthy of serious consideration by Member States and the Security Council. In particular, we support the emphasis on respect for the human rights of those groups that are most vulnerable to conflict, such as women and children.

Mr. President,

We wish to call attention to important developments in the way that the Security Council has functioned since the end of the Cold War. Firstly, we are pleased to note that cooperation among Security Council members has increased substantially as the Council discharges its solemn responsibility to maintain international peace and security. Secondly, the conflicts addressed by the Security Council since the early 1990s have tended to be intra-state conflicts stemming from failing or failed states, rather than the inter-state conflicts that have traditionally been the Council’s focus. These conflicts within states raise a different set of issues and require a different approach. In this regard, we welcome and support the Security Council’s recent trend toward integrating transitional justice and rule-of-law concerns into the mandates of UN peace missions.

Indeed, the rule of law, the promotion of human rights, the delivery of justice and the establishment of democratic institutions can no longer be considered luxuries, if ever they could. Rather, they are indispensable requirements for restoring peace and preventing conflict-ravaged societies from relapsing into violence and chaos. Without a reasonable degree of justice and rule of law, peace is simply not sustainable.

Mr. President,

Peace missions in conflict and post-conflict societies must integrate into their operations three key aspects of justice and the rule of law. These are: re-establishing the legal order that existed prior to the conflict; undertaking reform of the justice system, both substantively and procedurally; and administering transitional justice fairly and effectively in a way that facilitates the healing process and expedites national reconciliation. Peace missions must also engage in strategic planning to ensure that the justice system does not break down once the mission is terminated, and as such, it is imperative that peace missions work toward establishing sustainable national capacities for justice administration.

These, however, are extremely daunting tasks that can take a long time to achieve. There is no internationally established procedure that can be applied uniformly to all conflicts. Ensuring justice is also a very expensive undertaking, as evidenced by the ad hoc tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. In this vein, the full operation of the International Criminal Court as an independent, effective and fair permanent criminal tribunal is a most welcome development that will greatly enhance the administration of justice. The Republic of Korea hopes to see the Court attain universality at an early date.

Mr. President,

To deal with the complex socio-economic problems in conflict and post-conflict societies, we encourage more systematic coordination among all international and local actors on the ground, including the Security Council, UN peacekeepers, UN funds and programs, civil society, NGOs, and donors.

The Security Council, with the unique authority and power entrusted to it by the United Nations Charter, has been the guiding force behind concerted international efforts for post-conflict peace-building. However, we share the concern that the Security Council is currently overburdened, having increasingly become involved in the broad and time-consuming task of nation-building. Furthermore, because it can be difficult to determine when that task is complete, or even what would constitute completion, the Security Council may not always be able to articulate exit strategies where necessary.

In this context, we must examine the long-term fitness of the Security Council for these ever-expanding tasks. We look forward to the ideas and recommendations of the High-Level Panel regarding possible reform of the way the Security Council interacts with other UN organs, in particular the General Assembly and ECOSOC, and regarding possible changes in the structure and functions of major UN bodies.

In addition, the Republic of Korea deems worthy of exploration the Finnish-German-Jordanian joint proposal to create a central unit within the Secretariat to coordinate the rule of law components of peace-building efforts.

In closing, Mr. President, the Republic of Korea reiterates its continued support for the Security Council and the United Nations as a whole in their steadfast efforts to ensure that justice and the rule of law are extended to every human being in every society.

Thank you.

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