STATEMENT BY H.E.
ARCHBISHOP BERNARDITO AUZA
Monday, 13 October 2014
Following the first-ever High-Level Meeting on the Rule of Law at the
National and International Levels in September 2012, the UN General Assembly
adopted a Declaration "reaffirm[ing] our commitment to the rule of law and its
fundamental importance for political dialogue and cooperation among all States
and for the further development of the three main pillars upon which the United
Nations is built: international peace and security, human rights and development."
(RES/67/1). The Holy See Delegation welcomed this endorsement of the rule of law.
While commitment to the rule of law would appear to be universal, there
nonetheless remains persistent disagreement about the definition of "the rule of
law." The Holy See Delegation has endorsed a definition of the rule of law,
which is both rationally and morally grounded upon the substantial principles of
justice, including the inalienable dignity and value of every human person prior
to any law or social consensus; and, as a consequence of the recognition of this
dignity, those elements of fundamental justice such as respect for the principle
of legality (Nullum crimen sine lege), the presumption of innocence and
the right to due process. Likewise, regarding relations among States, the rule
of law means the paramount respect of human rights, equality of the rights of
nations; and respect for international customary law, treaties (Pacta sunt
servanda) and other sources of international law. This definition, with its
reference point in the natural law, sidesteps self-referential definitional
frameworks and anchors the orientation of the rule of law within the ultimate
and essential goal of all law, namely to promote and guarantee the dignity of
the human person and the common good.
For this reason, in future debates of the rule of law my delegation would
welcome increased attention to the human person and the society in which he or
she lives, because, in addition to the police force, courts, judges, prosecutors
and the rest of the legal infrastructure, the rule of law is unattainable
without social trust, solidarity, civic responsibility, good governance and
moral education. The family, religious communities and civil society play
indispensable roles in creating a society that can promote public integrity and
sustain the rule of law. As Pope Francis affirmed: "When a society, whether
local, national or global, is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes,
no political programs or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance
systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility." (Evangelii Gaudium
n.59). This is why the promotion of the rule of law needs to be indispensably
supported and verified by prioritizing the allocation of public resources to
human integral development.
At the center of the international framework governing rule of law stands the
UN Charter and the mandates contained within its purposes and principles. In the
exercise of these powers, it is appropriate to emphasize the commitment of
States to fulfil their obligations to promote universal respect for, and the
promotion and protection of, all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.
If the international rule of law is to reflect justice, frameworks to
international protection of persons must be fairly and impartially applied by
States to guarantee equal recourse to the protections available under the UN
Charter. I refer here in particular to religious and ethnic minorities in the
Middle East and other regions awaiting urgent measures to effect this protection,
including through further legal elaboration of the responsibility to protect.
The "responsibility to protect" is a recognition of the equality of all
before the law, based on the innate dignity of every man and woman. The Holy See
wishes to reaffirm that every State has the primary duty to protect its own
population from grave and sustained violations of human rights and from the
consequences of humanitarian crises. If States are unable to guarantee such
protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means
provided in the UN Charter and in other international instruments. The action of
the international institutions, provided that it respects the principles
undergirding the international order, cannot be interpreted as an unwarranted
imposition or a limitation of sovereignty.
The Holy See hopes that the alarming, escalating phenomenon of international
terrorism, new in some of its expressions and utterly ruthless in its barbarity,
be an occasion for a deeper and more urgent study on how to re-enforce the
international juridical framework of a multilateral application of our common
responsibility to protect people from all forms of unjust aggression.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.