Upholding and strengthening the four pillars of the modern international legal system – human rights, humanitarian, criminal and refugee law – is “crucial to the cause of peace,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today told a meeting in New York of parliamentarians from around the world.
In a speech to the Annual Parliamentary Hearing, jointly organized by the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Mr. Ban said that advancing the rule of law brought widespread benefits to the international community.
“It can help prevent or resolve conflicts and check weapons proliferation,” he said. “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.”
This year’s theme of the Annual Parliamentary Hearing is “Reinforcing the rule of law in international relations: the key role of Parliaments,” and Mr. Ban detailed the recent work of the UN to uphold the rule of law on issues ranging from international treaties to reforming the justice sector of post-conflict countries to helping poor nations move from a relief phase to sustained economic development.
He also highlighted climate change, the theme of his recent international trip, as well as the situation in Lebanon, where he “saw a Parliament in crisis, and parliamentarians living in a constant state of fear” of further assassinations.
“The international community must speak out on their behalf. That crucially includes you, their fellow parliamentarians,” the Secretary-General stressed.
General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim told the same gathering, which brings together parliamentarians to interact with UN system entities and to receive a series of briefings on UN activities, that it was important for the UN and lawmakers to work more closely together.
“You are powerful opinion-formers; and, are increasingly shaping international decisions,” Mr. Kerim said. “Your support is essential to promote more effective international relations based on the rule of law.”
He added that greater cooperation is also critical to ensuring better compliance and implementation of international commitments such as treaties and conventions.
Mr. Kerim said he plans to invite parliamentarians to participate in important General Assembly debates, such as those debates on climate change and on the eight ambitious anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).