Statement delivered by Ambassador Vladimir Drobnjak, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Croatia to the United Nations, at the Security Council Open Debate on the Promotion and Strengthening of the Rule of Law in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security.
New York, 19 February 2014
Croatia joins others in welcoming Lithuania’s initiative for an Open Debate on the promotion and strengthening of the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security. It is a well-chosen topic whose importance is growing by the day.
I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to the Secretary-General for his report on measuring the effectiveness of the United Nations system’s support to the promotion of the rule of law and for his comprehensive briefing today.
Croatia aligns itself with the European Union statement; in my national capacity I would like to add the following:
The rule of law constitutes the very essence of a social contract between individuals and the government, by which citizens are granted transparency, non-discrimination, fairness and equality in their standing before the law and in their social interactions. Competent, credible, efficient, responsible and legitimate institutions are guarantor of these principles and a provider of confidence that allows individuals and communities to resolve their disputes peacefully.
The lack of good governance and the rule of law, on the other hand, often lies at the root of conflicts. Therefore, as noted in the Secretary-General’s Report, strong, inclusive and accountable institutions which demonstrate equitable application of the rule of law are crucial for conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
Croatia recognizes the paramount importance of the rule of law in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding. It is equally important for achieving the lasting peace and for the sustainable development in all its aspects. The functional and efficient rule of law is as much an issue of security and stability, as is the one of economic and democratic development.
Rule of law has tremendous transforming power and should be regarded as an essential instrument for a positive change. Simply put, it is the best investment in prosperous future.
Re-establishing, strengthening or reforming judicial and legal systems and law enforcement institutions, providing a legal framework that will stimulate economy and safeguard democracy, is a long-term process that requires not only political determination, but also human and material resources, skills and knowledge. Metaphor of growing an oak tree seems appropriate: it takes time, patience, determination and a lot of care, but with every year the roots are getting deeper and canopy wider until the tree becomes strong enough to withstand any storm. Nonetheless early growing years are of decisive importance.
We welcome the multidimensional approach to peacekeeping and peacebuilding that places equal emphasis on security sector reforms, institutions building, protection of human rights, restoration of the social fabric of the country and rejuvenation of its economy and protection of its natural resources. In all these aspects the rule of law plays crucial, indispensable role.
Against this background Croatia advocates that particular attention is put on rebuilding the national civilian capacities and institutions, while recognizing the specific needs of the country and fully respecting the principle of national ownership. We strongly support the Civilian Capacity initiative – broadening and deepening of civilian capacities’ pool significantly enhances the ability of peacekeeping operations to achieve its goals.
Promoting the principle of the rule of law is also a central part of the work of the Peacebuilding Commission. Croatia, as a current Vice-Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, stands ready to do its part in supporting countries emerging from conflict in their efforts towards sustainable peace and development. We are willing to share our empirical knowledge and expertise in this field.
Accountability is an important aspect of the rule of law principle. We see the fight against impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide as an important element of conflict prevention. These crimes must not go unpunished and their effective prosecution has to be ensured. It is of utmost importance to put an end to the culture of impunity.
We highly value the contributions of international courts and tribunals in advancing the rule of law at the international and national levels. Ad hoc tribunals have profoundly changed the landscape of international criminal justice and paved the way for the International Criminal Court, whose work we strongly advocate.
We would also like to underline once again the important role women can play in the prevention and resolution of conflict and in peacebuilding. It is crucial to put in place gender-responsive transitional justice measures as a key element in the processes of restoring the rule of law and governance systems in any conflict-affected situation. Putting a country back on its feet is a remarkable opportunity to strengthen women’s rights, leadership and empowerment – in this regard the appropriate legal framework is a vital instrument.
Without peace and the rule of law there can be no development. The rule of law is the very essence and bedrock of any democratic and successful society. This must be kept in mind while contemplating each and every peacekeeping and peacebuilding strategy.