A Statement by H.E. Archbishop Francis Chullikatt
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See
65th session of the
United Nations General Assembly
Before the Sixth Committee on item 85:
The rule of law at the national and international levels
New York, 13 October 2010
Archbishop Francis Chullikatt
As my delegation addresses the Sixth Committee for the first time during this 65th Session of the General Assembly, I take this opportunity to congratulate you and the bureau on your elections and look forward to a successful conclusion of this Committee' s work.
The rule of law is the bedrock for development, peace and security. Why? First of all, the human person is intelligent and second, the world and the issues we confront are intelligible. Therefore, humankind is able to know the essential dignity of every human being. The combination of human intelligence, intelligibility of nature and history and unconditional respect for human dignity should enable those persons entrusted with the making of laws and their enforcement to promulgate just laws that serve and protect the common good of the human family. However, for the rule of law to promote true justice, a better understanding of the nature of law and justice is needed by national and international authorities. Law is not merely the outcome of civil legal deliberations. It must also incorporate the natural moral law, which, in fact, is nothing other than the recognition of all the social consequences of human dignity. Natural law, hence, supplies to law-making and enforcement that which can be derived about what is good and true through the proper and essential application of objective natural human reason. The natural moral law thus introduces a crucial element to the making of public norms. It connects the rule of law with the seeking of truth which, in turn, gives expression to the law inscribed on the human heart.
Today, legislative and judicial bodies too often fail to take into account this crucial basis of their work – the natural moral law – and focus only upon the empirical perception of human circumstances and procedural questions concerning the creation and application of law. Moreover, there is even a failure to acknowledge the need for law to respect universal truths. This positivistic and utilitarian view of law gives rise to the transforming of "private interests or wishes into laws that conflict with the duties deriving from social responsibility." A positivistic and utilitarian view of law results in the "rule by law" rather than true rule of law. As a judicial methodology, it risks undermining the promotion and just application of the rule of law because it disconnects the law from its roots in the natural moral order and leads to the flawed conclusion that what has become legal is therefore just and moral.
At the international level, the promotion of the rule of law also has seen advancements in recent decades in both civil and criminal law. The importance of international trade and development has led to the recognition of the need for States and individuals to have effective and just standards and norms so as to further enhance international development. Likewise, international labor markets and human migration both have received greater attention by the international community so as to promote just and equitable laws which protect the dignity of workers and allow migrants and their communities to enjoy the full protection of the law. Based on sound juridical principles, the work of the International Law Commission, International Labour Organization, UNCTAD, UNCITRAL and the WTO, requires continued commitment and development so as to create a more just international order which fosters understanding between nations. In the same way, finances should be guided by the rule of law. That means that the International Community should keep working on reforming the mandate and rules of the main multilateral financial bodies, such as the IMF, the World Bank Group and the new FSB. Such reorganization should ensure the fair participation of all countries in the world financial governance and should better link the financial institutions to the work of the General Assembly.
Similarly, the international criminal system has seen great progress over the past year. While the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda move closer to completing their work, the International Criminal Court has seen an increase in the number of States ratifying the Rome Statute and the further development of its ability to hold individuals accountable for the worst crimes against humanity. While the ICC has proved a valuable contribution to the international criminal system, continued work to ensure that it promotes the rule of law and greater peace and justice must continue.
While ensuring global and national governance through the rule of law, international leaders and civil authorities must continue to work to remove the perceived conflict between peace and justice and foster a broader vision of justice which takes into account political, social, economic and legal forms of justice. Justice, after all, requires the institution of right relationships among individuals and peoples so that the common good of humanity can be well served.
At the national level, the need for a just rule of law in many corners of the globe continues to go unmet. Efforts to promote the rule of law are hampered by the continued influence of corruption, instability, both social and political and the lack of resources to implement judicial systems. As the Secretary General's report (A/65/318) notes, there is a need to address the capacity and political will of national governments to establish and implement just legal system. Partnerships with civil society organizations which provide education and social services based on sound principles of the rule of law are vital to provide the cultural foundation upon which legal systems can be built.
The increasing codification of international legal standards has led more States to further incorporate such standards and practices into national legislation. This development can be seen particularly in the efforts by States to adhere to the standards established by the international human rights treaties established by the General Assembly. However, my delegation notes with concern the increasing undermining of treaty body systems when their scope is expanded beyond the spirit and goals of the treaties and the intent of the States who have adopted these legal standards. Since they are a part of the legal system, these treaty bodies cannot be excused from adhering to the traditional rules of interpretation of law. Efforts by international treaty bodies improperly to expand the scope of these treaties risks undermining the international treaty system in the realm of human rights. In the worst instances, they have actively promoted an interpretation of these international standards in a way which undermines the fundamental duty of law: to protect life. National legislators endure unwarranted criticism for rightly rejecting this expansion of the various treaties' standards which advance supposed rights that undermine life and the family, innovations that are unsupported by international agreements. Clearly, it is important for such bodies to respect the role of States to negotiate and implement the various human rights standards and to avoid expanding these standards into areas outside their scope and intent.
At both the international and national levels the rule of law helps to promote peace and development for all people. Individuals responsible for the development and creation of law have a distinct responsibility to ensure that their efforts contribute to the common good of society by protecting the legitimate interests of every member of society and by elevating consciousness of the responsibilities of all persons. In the final analysis, this is the charge of the rule of law. Thus these individuals must continue to work to ensure that law is truly just and that it fosters the common good through upholding the dignity of the human person, fostering social unity, protecting life, promoting the rehabilitation of offenders, restoring victims both physically and spiritually and increasing trust and understanding between and amongst peoples and nations.
Thank you, Madam Chair.