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United Nations: Advancing Rule of Law Deemed Vital

(Dec. 2, 2007) On November 20, 2007, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that upholding the rule of law is "crucial to the cause of peace." He was speaking to parliamentarians from many nations at the Annual Parliamentary Hearing, sponsored by the United Nations in cooperation with the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The speech stressed the importance of four aspects of the international legal system, human rights, humanitarian provisions, criminal law, and refugee law. Describing how the rule of law benefits the world, the Secretary-General said, "It can help prevent or resolve conflicts and check weapons proliferation. … It can protect people from genocide and other crimes against humanity. And it can aid the fight against terrorists and support efforts to limit the spread of communicable diseases." (Advancing the Rule of Law Is Vital Work, Says Ban Ki-Moon, UN News, Nov. 20, 2007.)

Ban went on to discuss in detail the U.N.'s rule of law initiatives, including work on international treaties, support for efforts to reform the justice sectors of post-conflict states, and aid to poor nations to help them move to sustained economic development. His speech also touched on climate change and on the situation in Lebanon, which he said has a "Parliament in crisis" and for which he urged international support of the lawmakers.

At the same meetings, the U.N. General Assembly President, Srgjan Kerim, talked about the importance of cooperation between the U.N. and legislators from around the world. He stated that parliamentarians are important as opinion-formers in their nations, and added, "[y]our support is essential to promote more effective international relations based on the rule of law." Kerim added that he will be inviting parliamentarians to participate in important debates in the General Assembly, including discussions on climate change and anti-poverty programs. (Id.)