Statement by Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg
Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN
New York, 30 September 2003


Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to thank you for the initiative of bringing this timely subject to the attention of the Council.

This issue of Justice and the Rule of Law becomes even more relevant at a time when the Secretary General and an overwhelming number of leaders are underlining the need for a thorough reassessment of the overall work of the UN system, and specifically of its main bodies.

May I start by recalling that the General Assembly has a fundamental contribution to this issue, as in recent years it has discussed and adopted a number of resolutions, which serve to establish parameters for efforts in the promotion of justice and the rule of law.  At the General Assembly, Brazil traditionally sponsors a resolution called “Strengthening of the Rule of Law”, aiming at to reaffirm the importance of this subject in the work of the UN.

Mr. President,

General working guidelines are certainly important and helpful.  Nevertheless, transforming theory into daily practice is a real challenge before this Organization and this Council, as we face diversified situations and realities.  There is no affordable “one-size-fits-all” approach, as the Secretary-General has underlined recently.

UN actions must always be based on the United Nations Charter and on International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights standards.  The more disrupted and unstable a situation is, the more important it becomes to provide adequate responses and to make available a framework of legal guidelines and principles to confront lawlessness and promote stability.

Among the conclusions of last year’s report of the Task Force on the Rule of Law in Peace Operations, I would highlight the priority assigned to the engagement of local actors – government officials, local NGOs and community organizations – in undertaking rule of law operations.  The United Nations should consult with such actors as early as possible in the mission planning process, as well as in all subsequent phases.  Models are to be developed, not to be imposed.

Our efforts should be aimed at setting the path for smooth transition when the moment of exit of a mission has arrived. In order to ensure such an outcome, strong local institutions have to be set up.

Promoting the rule of law goes beyond defending a principle or establishing a mechanism, it is also creating material conditions for justice, namely, training law enforcement agencies, building correctional facilities, renovating local courts and assisting judges and lawyers.

Mr. President,

I should stress three aspects of a successful role of an international presence on the ground.

First, this presence must be neutral, and willing to provide an inclusive participation of all sectors in the process of rebuilding institutions that may lead to a true and credible democratic society.

Second, international actors must behave as facilitators, leaving no doubt that sovereignty belongs to the people themselves and that its restoration is the goal to be achieved.

Third, we must take a stern attitude when dealing with the fate of perpetrators of crimes against humanity.  Omissions may send a wrong message in the conformation of a new reality on the ground.

The International Criminal Court is an achievement of paramount importance in the history of law.  It clearly states that impunity is not acceptable, regardless of position or prestige.  We call on all Member States to adhere to the Rome Statute so as to make this message even clearer.

Truth and Reconciliation Committees have proven to be effective instruments to facilitate the transition into a new reality.  As demonstrated by the experiences of Timor-Leste and South Africa, finding ways to deal in a constructive and objective manner with the legacy of the past is an important aspect of the process of reconstructing societies.

Finally, Mr. President, I believe that Justice and the Rule of Law are indispensable in nation-building process. 

The setting up of ECOSOC Ad Hoc Advisory Groups, dedicated to post-conflict situations in specific countries such as Guinea Bissau and Burundi is a very useful step.  It is highly advisable that coordination between the Security Council and the ECOSOC and other UN bodies be reinforced, in order to facilitate the reintegration of war-torn countries into the international community.

Brazil will continue to contribute to this cause.

Thank you.