Security Council discusses rule of law, sanctions regime

The Security Council met on the 29th of June to debate the promotion and  strengthening of the rule of law in the maintenance of international  peace and security.  It had before it a letter dated 18 June 2010 from  the Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations addressed  to the Secretary-General (document S/2010/322), which contains a concept note to guide the discussion.  In particular, it recommends that the  debate focus on promotion of the rule of law in conflict and  post-conflict situations, international justice and the peaceful  settlement of disputes, and the efficiency and credibility of sanctions  regimes.

Presidency Statement S/PRST/2010/11 extracts:

The Security Council  reaffirms its commitment to the Charter of the United Nations and  international law, and to an international order based on the rule of  law and international law, which is essential for peaceful coexistence  and cooperation among States in addressing common challenges, thus  contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security.
(…)
The Security Council  recognizes that respect for international humanitarian law is an essential component of the rule of law in conflict situations and  reaffirms its conviction that the protection of the civilian population in armed conflict should be an important aspect of any comprehensive  strategy to resolve conflict and recalls in this regard resolution 1894  (2009).

(…)
The Security Council  further reiterates its call for all parties to armed conflict to respect international law applicable to the rights and protection of women and  children, as well as displaced persons and humanitarian workers and  other civilians who may have specific vulnerabilities, such as persons
with disabilities and older persons.

The Security Council  reaffirms its strong opposition to impunity for serious violations of  international humanitarian law and human rights law.  The Security  Council further emphasizes the responsibility of States to comply with  their relevant obligations to end impunity and to thoroughly investigate
and prosecute persons responsible for war crimes, genocide, crimes  against humanity or other serious violations of international  humanitarian law, in order to prevent violations, avoid their recurrence and seek sustainable peace, justice, truth and reconciliation.
(…)
The Security Council considers sanctions an important tool in the  maintenance and restoration of international peace and security.  The  Council reiterates the need to ensure that sanctions are carefully  targeted in support of clear objectives and designed carefully, so as to minimize possible adverse consequences and are implemented by Member  States.  The Council remains committed to ensure that fair and clear  procedures exist for placing individuals and entities on sanctions lists and for removing them, as well as for granting humanitarian exemptions.

In this context, the Council recalls the adoption of resolutions 1822  (2008) and 1904 (2009), including the appointment of an Ombudsperson and other procedural improvements in the Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions regime.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General ASHA-ROSE MIGIRO said:

“Adherence to the rule of law begins at home,” she said, adding: “As the world faces new and evolving threats to international peace and  security, such as transnational organized crime, terrorism and piracy,  the Security Council should place the rule of law at the centre of its  response.”

Strengthening national  laws, security and justice systems in a sustainable and nationally owned manner was vital, she said.  Action internationally, regionally and  domestically must be aligned and grounded in international norms and  standards.  The principle that all individuals and entities, including  States, were accountable to the law was at the heart of the rule of law  nationally and internationally.  All mechanisms — judicial and  non-judicial — that secured compliance with, or enforced, international  law, required strengthening.

“The rule of law will continue to be central in meeting the challenges of our time,” she said,adding: “The Council’s continuous engagement is essential.”  Together, the international community should support sustained, coherent and well-resourced efforts to strengthen the rule of law nationally and internationally, and ensure that the rule of law played its rightful role in building a better world for all.

Patricia O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, stressed the critical need to adopt sanctions in accordance with international law and Charter objectives.  The recent adoption ofresolution 1904 (2009) showed the significant effort to address the rights of due process and, in particular, that of an effective review of such decisions.  The establishment of the “Office of the Ombudsperson”  was an important move to ensure fair and clear procedures for listed individuals and entities.  Her Office intended to follow the interactionbetween the Ombudsperson and the sanctions committee as well as the impact of resolution 1904 (2009) on the jurisprudence of national and regional courts.

Delegation statements.
Mexico attached great importance to the recent appointment of an Ombudsperson.  It favoured effective remedies, which were fair and clear, stressing the need for balance between efficiency and legitimacy.

France noted that the Council had improved the way in which it dealt with individuals and entities that breached its embargoes, as well as with those that impeded peace processes, or were responsible for crimes or inciting hatred.  Success in combating terrorism hinged on the Council’s ability to ensure adherence to its decisions.  To restore trust in the  sanctions regime, France had proposed setting up focal points to collect information on de-listing and exemptions.  The focal points had been set up, and now the Council had gone further by setting up the Office of the Ombudsperson. 

According to Brazil sanctions might play a role in the maintenance of peace and security, aswell, but should be used sparingly, wisely and never to the detriment of negotiated solutions.  The purpose of sanctions was to modify the  behaviour of the target State, party, individual or entity threatening international peace and security; it must never be an indirect or undeclared means to cause regime change, punish, or otherwise exact retribution.  Listing and de-listing procedures should be clear and fairand observe due process.  While there had recently been important improvements to the sanctions regime relating to Al-Qaida and the Taliban, further efforts should be made.

As Chair of the Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee, Austria was committed to enhancing efficiency and credibility of sanctions regimes. He strongly supported the presidential statement before the Council today and the request that the Secretary-General prepare a follow-up report to his 2004 report on the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict situations.

The UK said it was important to focus on challenges ahead and to respond to the changing nature of warfare.  He supported the listing and de-listing procedures, which had enabled the Council to ensure that United Nations sanctions remained a vital tool to fight terrorists such as Al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Libanon acknowledged the Council’s efforts at transparency and respect for human rights, which would enhance its sanctions regime.  Its appointment of the Ombudsperson had been an important step, but more needed to be done.  Combating terrorism could not be undertaken at the expense of respect for human rights.

China added that the Council needed to enhance the credibility of its sanctions regime, since its use of sanctions as deterrents and methods of punishment had begun to attract “widespread concern”.  China had always advocated strict criteria when using sanctions, with timelines to avoid negative impact on people’s livelihoods and on development.  When using sanctions, it was important to proceed with caution, to lay  stress on facts and evidence and to avoid double standards.

According to Russia, targeted sanctions could be effective to bolster international peace and security and they could restore respect for the law, but they must be  imposed on a strictly legal basis in clear compliance with the Charter.  De-listing and listing procedures should be based on criteria in relevant Council resolutions, and the focus should be on what had been  achieved rather than on creating new mechanisms.  The General Assembly  had also devoted attention to enhancing sanctions, adopting the  resolution sponsored by the Russian Federation on that matter.

Turkey stressed the need to apply the sanctions with utmost caution so as to avoid them from being counter-productive.  They should be carefully targeted in order to minimize adverse consequences on populations and third States.  Welcoming the establishment of an Ombudsperson, he urged States to continue to dwell on how to further strengthen the office’s legitimacy and overall effectiveness.

Gabon supported the role of the Ombudsperson in listing and de-listing entities and individuals.  It fully supported today’s presidential statement.

Denmark welcomed the important Council decision to strengthen the legal framework for sanctions regimes by enhancing transparency and fairness of listing and de-listing procedures.  It lauded the appointment of an Ombudsperson under the Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions regime — an idea originally promoted by Denmark in 2005.  The Ombudsperson would help strengthen the right of due process of listed individuals and entities, while ensuring the sanctions regime’s effectiveness.  But more must be done.  Procedures for listing and de-listing must be kept under constant review.  Denmark would continue to push for even more transparent and fair procedures within the Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions regime, as well as other within United Nations sanctions regimes.

Liechtenstein stressed the Council’s need to respect human rights when taking action with direct impact on individuals.  He commended the Council for its tremendous progress in reforming the sanctions regime against the Taliban and Al-Qaida, and welcomed the establishment of the Ombudsperson.  The approach taken by resolution 1904 (2009) “may not be perfect”, but his Government nevertheless recognized the strong political will within the Council to address legitimate criticisms against the old system.  The Council must stay vigilant in ensuring that its work remained within legal bounds and in the spirit of the Charter.

According to Australia, in the area of targeted sanctions, Member States had the legal obligation to accept and enforce them, but their effectiveness depended, in large part, on perceptions of procedural fairness.  In that light, Australia welcomed improvements to the Al‑Qaida and Taliban sanctions regime, as well as the establishment of an Ombudsperson for sanctions.

South Korea said the Council’s sanctions regimes were important tools for maintaining and restoring global peace and security.  He called on the Council to continue efforts to improve the present sanctions regime to make it more effective.

Norway lauded the trend to enhance the transparency and fairness of the listing and de-listing procedures of the “1267 Committee”, adding that those procedures should be kept under constant review.  The Council should be open to further procedural improvements in that sanctions regime, such as the creation of an independent review panel.

Peru said that resolution 1904 (2009) was an important step forward, but guidelines must be improved for its effective implementation. 

South Africa stated that the concept note correctly identified that targeted sanctions still raised fundamental questions concerning the rule of law and basic principles of due process.  He hoped that the Office of the Ombudsperson would be strengthened. He encouraged the Council to consider the recommendations of the
document “Introduction and Implementation of Sanctions by the United
Nations”, annexed to General Assembly resolution 64/115, when imposing
and implementing sanctions.

The European Union delegation supported the principle of restrictive measures with clear objectives targeted at persons or entities deemed responsible for policies and actions that warranted the imposition of sanctions.  Such measures must be implemented in accordance with international law and respect for human rights.  The European Union had conducted a thorough review and consolidation of its implementation procedures, which had led to concrete improvements.

Germany added that the rule of law entailed the obligation of international  organizations to act in accordance with international law, internally  and in their relations with other Member States and the international  community at large.  One important example was respect for the rule of  law in international sanctions regimes, in particular, in the combat  against international terrorism.  Germany, which was active in  advocating for a focal point for de-listing and the creation of an  Ombudsperson, was confident that the resulting Office of the  Ombudsperson would enhance the credibility of the regime.

The United States, Canada  Finland, Italy, Argentina, Guatemala, the Solomon Islands, Botswana, Azerbaijan and Armenia didn’t adress the  listing issue.

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One Response

  1. Your comments have been of a great deal helpful, I’m on a project on sanctions and it’s enforcementsunder international law, and will really be intrested in your comments; especially on this field.

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