His Excellency Ahmed Bin Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State
At the outset, we welcome your presence, Minister Hayashi, and your country’s decision to highlight this important topic for the first signature event of your Security Council presidency. I am grateful to the Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, for his valuable briefing and Judge Joan Donoghue, President of the International Court of Justice, for her detailed briefing and for the critical work of the Court, the principal judicial organ of the UN, particularly in the promotion of the rule of law at the global level. Allow me to also thank Professor Dapo Akande for his thoughtful briefing.
The rule of law plays a crucial role in the smooth functioning of an international system that is largely characterized by deep inequalities in power, influence, and opportunity. The United Nations Charter provides an essential foundation in this regard. But it is only by consistently applying the norms and values enshrined in the Charter, including sovereign equality, territorial integrity, and the prohibition of the use of force, that the rule of law offers the promise of stable peace as the alternative to destabilizing conflict. The rule of law provides the basis for sustainable development, international trade, and investment, which promotes stability and peaceful relations between States.
Because of its importance, there is a tendency to refer to the rule of law in lofty terms or to appeal to it in the most urgent circumstances. Selective application cannot serve our shared goal of consistent adherence to the rule of law. That requires constant nurturing and cultivation; the rule of law is strongest when regularly defined in our interactions.
In this context, Mr. President, I would like to highlight the following three points on how we can all work together to strengthen the rule of law:
First, is a commitment to consistency in the invocation and application of the rule of law, no matter the region and interests involved. For the rule of law to exist at all, it must mean that all are held to the same standard. Respect for core principles, foremost those enshrined by the Charter, must not be protected only when they implicate the interests of the strongest among us. Our international system can only function for all States – large and small, weak and strong – when it binds everyone to the same rules. Beyond undermining faith in the rule of law, an uneven approach leads to erosion. It incentivizes those that have the means to pick and choose when to champion the rule of law.
Second, is a commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes. Where there are differences between States, there is a responsibility to acknowledge these differences and engage in good-faith efforts to resolve them peacefully. There are a range of international dispute resolution mechanisms available for those purposes, of which the International Court of Justice is a key example. The UAE is and will continue to be, steadfast in its dedication to prioritizing dialogue and peaceful resolution. This is my country’s consistent approach to matters of the highest significance to our nation. The UAE has, for instance, been constantly calling for a peaceful resolution of the dispute with Iran over the three UAE islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa.
Third, is a practical commitment to building capacity for compliance. We have seen a tendency towards the establishment of rules or standards without sufficient consideration of the ability of some States to meet those standards. Beyond questions of basic fairness, such an approach, which inevitably leads to non-compliance, undermines the functioning of the rule of law. The international community, including through regional and international organizations, should work with States to identify needs and help build capacity, for instance by building awareness and strengthening institutions. We see, in this regard, the importance of efforts to develop a “new vision for rule of law” as we work towards “Our Common Agenda”.
Allow me to conclude by reiterating once again the fundamental importance of the rule of law and respect for the Charter in the maintenance of international peace and security. For the UAE, these principles are the pillars of our international system, and we will continue to uphold them and promote them.
Thank you, Mr. President.