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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DOUBLE STANDARDS in “law” ─ African, Asian leaders address 67th UNGA

Declaration reaffirming rule of law as foundation for building equitable State relations, just and fair societies adopted by world leaders
Respect for accepted norms cannot be ambiguous … Speakers warn against Selectivity
Edited by Carolyn Bennett 

First-ever UN General Assembly high-level meeting on rule of law at the national and international levels.  

States' leaders criticized, urged reform of “double standards” under “law”

Change system

The rule of law is premised on the idea that equality before the law is universal. However, this is not always the case. What might be overlooked in one situation is aggressively sanctioned in another. States must be alert to the dangers of politicizing justice issues at the national and international levels. 

Principles such as universal jurisdiction are being used selectively and ‘in one direction’ ─ as political tools aimed at control and domination. 

Often, motives for pursuing justice are punitive and aimed to serve the interests of one party over another.  The issues of justice and politics require a balanced approach.  A punitive course of action is not always best, even when grievances are legitimate.

The system must change to eliminate double standards at the international level.  States must adhere to the right to fair hearings and respect both human rights and review mechanisms. It is more useful for people to act together toward a form of universal justice that is meaningful to all.  In that way, the rule of law will uphold equality among nations and guarantee fairness. ─ PAUL KAGAME, President of Rwanda


Fix undemocratic, unrepresentative UNSC

The rule of law and human development are inextricably linked and while it is important to promote the rule of law on the national level (linked with efforts to raise the standard of living of disadvantaged populations, provide essential services, fulfill socio-economic rights), it is of equal importance to attend to it at the international level.

If not, the United Nations risks accusations of double standards and hypocrisy. It is important to ask whether or not the international community is governed by a system where all are accountable under law that is equally enforced and independently adjudicated.

The composition of the Security Council and how it affects the promotion of international law and the rule of law in particular needs to be examined.  The undemocratic and unrepresentative nature of the Council leaves its decisions open to attack for lack of legitimacy, regardless of content.  ─ JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa


Improve all-States’ compliance, consistency

While respect for the rule of law is at the very heart of the founding and work of the United Nations, challenges to the principle abound at national and international levels, leading to brutal conflicts, oppressive regimes, and violations of human rights.

The need to enhance compliance with international legal instruments as well as commitment to the UN Charter cannot be overstated and there must be consistency in applying the international law. The democratization of international relations are also essential to building a just world order. 

Strengthening the rule of law at the global level is critical to tackling current challenges and reinforcing the peaceful coexistence among nations.  

Double standards degrade the integrity of the international legal system. All laws must be applied equitably and effectively and must enjoy the support of societies. ─ THOMAS MOTSOAHAE THABANE, Prime Minister of Lesotho

Level global playing field in law

The rule of law should not be used as cover for one country to dominate another. Neither should double standards be used in applying the rule of law. 

Countries emerging from conflict and needing to focus on strengthening administrative, law-enforcement and judiciary institutions must have greater global support in promoting the rule of law.

Internationally, the rule of law should be established in such a way as to create a level playing field for all States.  ─ NARAYAN KAJI SHRESTHA PRAKASH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal

End Member States’ impunity

Multilateral deliberations toward improving the rule of law [are important] but impunity, injustice and double standards have hindered that goal and must be stopped. 

The UN General Assembly must realign its prerogatives. The Security Council must democratize.

There must be more coordination between the United Nations and multilateral institutions. ─ MOURAD MEDELCI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria

Strengthen ethos of nonviolence
Institute balance and checks, equality in
UN voices, powers, composition, substructures

The UN Security Council lacks legitimacy, which is why it has failed to establish justice and ensure sustainable peace and security in the world. … They have wrongly invoked the UN Charter, supported infringement of others’ freedoms, and misused free speech to justify silence regarding offenses to the human community. ─ MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, President of Iran

Sources and notes

“World Leaders Adopt Declaration Reaffirming Rule of Law as Foundation for Building Equitable State Relations, Just Societies Respect for Accepted Norms Cannot be Ambiguous,
General Assembly President Stresses as Speakers Warn against Selectivity

Sixty-seventh General Assembly Plenary, 3rd, 4th & 5th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)
General Assembly GA/11290   
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
September 24, 2012, http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2012/ga11290.doc.htm
“World leaders and civil society representatives reaffirmed today their commitment to the rule of law as the foundation of equitable State relations and the basis upon which just and fair societies are built, as they adopted a lengthy declaration during the General Assembly’s first-ever high-level meeting on the rule of law at the national and international levels.”

Country notes Britannica

Algeria: large, predominantly Muslim country of North Africa

Iran: Ethnically diverse country of southwestern Asia

Lesotho: country in Southern Africa

Nepal: Asian landlocked country lying along the southern slopes of the Himalayan Mountain ranges, between India (to the east, south, and west) and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China (to the north)

Rwanda: East-central African landlocked republic lying south of the Equator

South Africa:  former apartheid (Afrikaans: ‘apartness’ or racial-separation) State, the southernmost country on the continent of Africa


Imbalance, inequality: 193 nations comprise the UN General Assembly.  

THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL ALONE (5 permanent member nations) has power to make decisions member states are obligated under the charter to carry out.

Membership in 2012

The Council is composed of five permanent members (China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) and ten non-permanent members (with year of term’s end):

Colombia (2012)
Germany (2012)
India (2012)
Portugal (2012)
South Africa (2012)

Azerbaijan (2013)
Guatemala (2013)
Morocco (2013)
Pakistan (2013)
Togo (2013)

The General Assembly elected Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo to serve as non-permanent members of the Security Council for two-year terms starting on 1 January 2012. The newly elected countries will replace Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria.

About the Council


The Presidency of the Security Council is held in turn by the members of the Security Council in the English alphabetical order of their names. Each President holds office for one calendar month.

Ten non-permanent members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms and not eligible for immediate re-election.

The number of non-permanent members was increased from six to ten by an amendment of the Charter which came into force in 1965.

Each Council member has one vote. Decisions on procedural matters are made by an affirmative vote of at least nine of the 15 members. Decisions on substantive matters require nine votes, including the concurring votes of all five permanent members. This is the rule of "great Power unanimity", often referred to as the ‘veto’ power.

Under the Charter, all Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.

While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to Governments, the Council alone has the power to take decisions which Member States are obligated under the Charter to carry out.


United Nations Photo images:
http://www.unmultimedia.org/photo/detail.jsp?id=527/527325&key=104&query=67th general assembly


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