12 October 2010
Statement by Mr. Esmaeil Baghaei Hamaneh
Reprsentative of the Islamic Republic of Iran
before the Sixth Committee on Agenda item 85
“The Rule of Law at the National and International Levels”
(New York, 12 October 2010)
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The Islamic Republic of Iran attaches great importance to the rule of law and justice at the national and international levels. It is only through respect for the rule of law and justice that a secure, peaceful and prosperous world can be realized and maintained.
My delegation takes note of the report of the Secretary-General on “Strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities”, contained in document A/65/318. We echo the concern already expressed by many delegations over the late submission of report and trust that this issue will be adequately addressed by the Secretariat. The report contains important information about the activities undertaken by the United Nations in the field of rule of law in 22 pages and reflects in its annex the views expressed by Member States concerning domestic laws and practices in implementing international law. The report begins with a mixed sense of hope and caution where it notes that “the Organization has set a broad and ambitious agenda in this area, which is not easily realized and is often underestimated” (Paragraph 1). It also notifies that “the Organization is refining its understanding of the rule of law at the international level” (paragraph 2). The report further refers, in its Part III, to “United Nations approach to the rule of law at the national level” which is based on Secretary-General’s “guidance note”. While we trust that further clarification on these codes and references would help in better appreciating the overall UN directions and policies towards the concept of rule of law, we are of the view that UN approach to the rule of law should necessarily be shaped in accordance with the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and relevant authoritative documents agreed by the general membership.
On the other hand, the report seems to suggest that the UN approach and activities regarding the rule of law is more focused on certain areas. In this regard, while my delegation is cognizant of the important works undertaken by relevant UN bodies to strengthen the rule of law at the national and international levels, we would like to highlight the importance of maintaining a balanced and inclusive approach in United Nations rule of law related initiatives and activities. As Secretary-General has observed in paragraph 81 of the report, “the United Nations system’s rule of law work must be better harnessed towards economic and social justice and reaching the development goals of States”, for example.
There are some ambiguities in other parts of the report, as well, which could be clarified with the presence of officials from the Rule of Law Unit.
It is the sovereign right of each nation to establish its own model of the rule of law and administration of justice and to develop an efficient and fair legal and judicial system based on its cultural, historical and political traditions and needs and other circumstances prevailing in the society. This right is sanctioned in international law and the United Nations Charter, particularly through principles of sovereign equality of States and non-interference in their internal affairs as well as the right to self-determination of people.
The international community, at large, and the United Nations system could contribute positively to this objective by providing technical assistance. Such technical assistance for capacity-building in rule of law areas should be granted at the request of States based on the needs and priorities they identify.
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran has allocated one whole chapter (Chapter III) to the rights of the people and citizens (Articles 19-42). The Constitution guarantees the equal rights of all citizens before the law as Article 19 stipulates that “All Iranians, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights; and color, race, language, and the like, do not create any privilege.”, and Article 20 expressly states that “All Iranian citizens, both men and women, equally enjoy the protection of the law and enjoy all human, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, in conformity with Islamic criteria.”
Concerning the incorporation and implementation of international obligations of States in their domestic legal systems, the Iranian legal system recognizes the importance of Iran’s legal obligations under international treaties. Article 9 of the Iran’s Civil Law clearly states that the provisions of the international agreements which are concluded, in accordance with the Constitution, between Iran and other States have the force of law. According to Article 77 of the Constitution, “International treaties, protocols, contracts, and agreements must be approved by the Islamic Consultative Assembly.” And Article 125 of the Constitution specifies that the President or his legal representative shall sign treaties, protocols, contracts, and agreements concluded by the Iranian government with other governments, as well as agreements pertaining to international organizations, after they have been approved by the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament). Therefore, the Parliament must decide on the ratification or accession to international treaties through enacting a piece of law to that effect. Such decision has to be sanctioned by the Council of Guardian of the Constitution before being passed to the executive power (the President) for enforcement/implementation.
The tool of law is not immune from misuse and abuse. Adopting national legislations which manifestly contravene the established norms and principles of international law and violate the sovereign rights of other States would only undervalue the very concept of the rule of law. Likewise, unilateral and extraterritorial application of domestic legislations against other countries would adversely affect the rule of law. Such actions are but a clear manifestation of rule of power through the instrument of law and could be qualified as internationally wrongful acts, in many cases, which would entail the international responsibility of the States concerned.
My delegation would also like to underline that international law shall be respected equally by all States, and selectivity and double standard in application and enforcement of international treaties must be rejected, since they undermine the very nature and objective of the concept of rule of law.
The rule of law at the international level stands at the core of the United Nations. It is one of the main purposes of the United Nations “to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.” The purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter would only be fulfilled in a law-based international order where international law is respected by all States in their international relations and all States are committed to refrain from unlawful use or threat of force. The United Nations was established mainly to save the succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and this would have to be achieved essentially through replacing the rule of force and power with the rule of law and justice.
The United Nations has a key and unique role in strengthening the rule of law through a wide array of codification, promotion, dissemination and implementation of international law. We concur with the Secretary-General in his first report on this item in 2009 (A/64/298) that “The United Nations continues to be at the centre of global efforts for the promotion of the rule of law at the national and international levels” (Paragraph 2 of the Report), and that “Multilateral cooperation based on the rule of law is essential for effectively addressing current and future global challenges” (Paragraph 5 of the report). The United Nations provides the key global platform for all States to engage in codification and progressive development of international law through multilateral diplomacy and negotiations. The equal opportunity for all sovereign States to participate in international norm making processes is fundamentally essential for the credibility and legitimacy of the resulting norms, as well. In that sense, the role of the host countries of the UN Headquarters in facilitating the participation of all Member States in the UN meetings is of critical importance both to serve the interest of multilateral diplomacy and to develop and promote international law. The host countries to the United Nations have an obligation under international law, in particular under the Headquarters agreements, to facilitate the presence of representatives of Member States in United Nations meetings. As stressed in the report of the Secretary-General (paragraph 24, A/65/318), responsibility of all subjects of international law, including States, for fulfilling their obligations is essential to any concept of rule of law at the international levels. It is a matter of serious concern, however, that in some cases the representatives of Member States are prevented from participating in the United Nations meetings out of political considerations by the host country authorities.
The United Nations should continue to promote the rule of law and justice within the Organization, as well. The United Nations staff shall have access to an effective, fair and efficient system of internal justice, on the one hand. They must be held accountable for any misconduct or criminal act committed, including those committed in U.N. peacekeeping and other missions, on the other. We welcome the operationalization of the new system of administration of justice at the United Nations from July 2009 which has proved to work quite effectively so far. We also reiterate our support for the initiatives aimed at ensuring the criminal accountability of United Nations officials and experts on mission, including through developing an international instrument to that effect.
The principal organs of the United Nations shall respect the mandate and competence of each other, as defined in the Charter. The important role of the General Assembly in progressive development and codification of international law, under Article 13 of the Charter, shall be highly appreciated and fully respected by other Organs of the United Nations, particularly the Security Council. As a political organ of the United Nations, the Council has a primary responsibility in maintaining international peace and security. The Security Council’s mandate is not unlimited or above the law, however. It is bound by the Charter and as such it should not act against the spirit and letter of its commitment to exercise its powers in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter (Article 24. Paragraph 2) and to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Member States. Making decisions on the basis of unauthentic information or politically motivated analysis or narrow national interest priorities of some of the permanent members would undermine the credibility and reputation of the Council, damage the legitimacy of its decisions, and harm the trust of Member States to this important organ of the Organization.
I thank you, Madam Chairperson.