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National statements

The Promotion and Strengthening of the Rule of Law in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security

Thematic issues

  • Conflict Prevention
  • Human Rights
  • Justice
  • Mali
  • Peacebuilding
  • Peacekeeping
  • Policing
  • Rule of Law


Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Thank you, Mr President, for convening this debate and chairing it personally today. We also thank the Secretary-General for updating us on the recent steps taken to improve the Secretariat's capacity to deliver the Council's rule of law mandates.

Mr President

Strengthening the rule of law, as the Secretary-General has reminded us this morning, is a critical pillar of both conflict prevention and effective post-conflict peacebuilding. That makes it, as he has said, core business for this Council and for Council-mandated peace operations. Successful rule of law interventions can significantly reduce the likelihood of conflict occurring or recurring. It is therefore essential that the Council provide UN peacekeeping and special political missions with sufficient authority, clarity and direction to carry out well-targeted and achievable rule of law mandates.

Their implementation needs to be appropriately prioritised within a mission. While of course the first priority must be the immediate stabilisation of a given security situation, planning for the implementation of rule of law tasks needs to start immediately. We welcome the Secretary‑General's advice about the institutional changes within the UN to address rule of law issues. The conferral of strengthened responsibility on the senior UN official in-country, who will now be responsible and accountable for guiding a rule of law strategy and supporting its implementation, is an important advance. We also welcome the designation of DPKO and UNDP as the joint Global Focal Point for rule of law, which we trust will result in improved coordination and coherence of the UN's rule of law efforts.

For all aspects of peacekeeping mandates and special political missions, including rule of law, it is essential of course to learn from both success and failure. In developing and reviewing rule of law mandates, the Security Council needs to be informed by a clear understanding of what works and what does not work.

While we welcome the Secretary-General's recent report on measuring the effectiveness of the support provided by the UN system in conflict and post-conflict situations in respect of rule of law, it is clear from the report's recommendations that there is still a way to go. Qualitative assessments of the impact of the UN's interventions are required; it is not a simple question of the number of police officers trained or workshops held. We support the UN's use of the Rule of Law Indicators in this regard.

Mr President

At the national level, the rule of law is at the heart of the social contract between the state and its citizens, ensuring justice permeates society at every level and governments are accountable. It underpins stability and effective state protection, and ensures human rights are protected.

Supporting the development of police, corrections, prosecutorial and judicial capacities to enable crimes to be investigated and prosecuted is a core mandate for many UN missions.

A recent positive development was the authorisation of MINUSMA to use all necessary means to support the efforts of the transitional authorities in Mali to bring to justice those responsible for serious international crimes, taking into account the ICC's jurisdiction. The Council similarly encouraged MONUSCO to use its existing authority to assist the Government of the DRC to hold accountable those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country, including through its ongoing cooperation with the ICC. The Council should consider whether similar mandates should be given to other peacekeeping operations.

Such an approach could be part of broader Council support to the International Criminal Court. The Court is an essential partner for the Council on rule of law matters and the Council needs to do more to support its work.

Mr President; finally, my comments on policing.

The role performed by the police components of UN peacekeeping operations needs closer attention. UN Police strengthen the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict situations both where they provide interim policing and through assistance to reform and rebuild national police and other law enforcement agencies.

Given the breadth and complexity of policing roles, there is further scope for the Council to provide greater strategic direction in mandates to effectively guide police components and mission management.

At an operational level, pre-deployment training on cultural issues enables deployed police to better relate to their host-nation counterparts. UN Police Division is doing important work on mission-specific induction training. The recent pilot in UNMIL sets a strong example.

I should say, Mr President, that we hope that we will be able to successfully finalise our negotiations to adopt a Presidential text on the rule of law. We have done so before. We must do so again.

To conclude,

Successfully strengthening the rule of law within a country requires long‑term engagement. It is important, therefore, that from the very outset of planning the rule of law component of a UN mission, there also needs to be consideration of the transition of rule of law functions from that UN peace operation to the national authorities. Robust institutions must stand on their own foundations. This will be the measure of our success.

Thank you, Mr President.

Last Updated: 17 June 2015
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