Statement by Ambassador H.E. Dr. Palitha Kohona,
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly 65th Session 
Agenda Item 85 : The Rule of Law at the National and International Levels –
12th October, 2010

“The rule of law provides the essential framework for our societies, domestically and internationally, as human civilization progresses.  It provides the invisible thread that provides stability and certainty to the ever evolving mosaic of human interactions.”

Thank you Madame Chair,

My delegation is pleased to align itself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement by Iran.  My delegation also welcomes the work of the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group and the Rule of Law Unit and looks forward to working with the Unit as further measures are taken to implement the joint strategic plan for 2009-2011.

The rule of law provides the essential framework for our societies, domestically and internationally, as human civilization progresses.  It provides the invisible thread that provides stability and certainty to the ever evolving mosaic of human interactions. 

The Government of Sri Lanka takes the view that strengthening the Rule of Law will contribute to contain discord, maintain peace, resolve disputes, promote development and enhance the quality of human existence.  Remembering that this concept must be understood in the context of the rich and different values of different members and groups of the international community, the UN has a major role to play in advancing the rule of law.  The work of the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group is very much appreciated but there is much to be done.  The UN can do and must do more to ensure central coordination and identifying commonalities.  It can provide leadership in assisting with capacity building in post conflict countries and in developing their national legal frameworks, incorporating as appropriate, international norms and standards.  Of course, the sensitivities of the countries concerned must always be respected.  More coordination and cooperation between different UN entities is essential in order to avoid duplication, waste of resources and produce the best results.  We also commend the work that is done by the office of Legal Affairs and note with appreciation the various outreach, and training programmes conducted by Office of Legal Affairs, in particular the Treaty Section.  We note the success of the Annual Treaty Event. 

The Rule of Law Unit must be strengthened at the international level to effectively address a range of global challenges.  The promotion of democracy, human rights, including women’s rights, sustainable development, peaceful co-existence and cooperation, combating organized crime and terrorism, containing corruption and promoting justice and peace, all crucial challenges of our times and all depend on the consolidation of the rule of law. 

The principle of sovereign equality is a crucial pillar of the international rule of law, and must be respected as international rules are made and implemented.  It is a principle that is enshrined in the Charter to which we all adhere and it protects all States, especially the small and the weak.  The Charter also clearly states that this organization is governed by the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of Member States except in specified circumstances dependent on the agreement of States.   Any tendency to prescribe solutions to internal circumstances, based on experiences elsewhere or on theoretical generalizations must be avoided.  History has taught us that every situation is different.  One size does not fit all.  To be effective, it is very important to be sensitive to the nuances of each situation. 

An important aspect of the rule of law at international level is the obligation of States to implement at national level, commitments undertaken by them under treaties and other international agreements.  We note that the Secretary-General is the depository of over 500 multilateral treaties, covering almost all aspects of human interaction, and the UN has registered over 50,000 treaties. While many such multilateral treaties enjoy wide participation, others do not.   Compliance with treaty obligations  is an area where the UN can play a crucial and helpful role in assisting States with capacity building.  Sri Lanka is committed to comply conscientiously  with the treaties to which it is a party.  Every effort is made to give domestic effect to its international obligations.  Sri Lanka has over the years contributed proactively to the negotiation of a number of international treaties.  We recall that Ambassador Shirly Amarasinghe chaired the law of the sea negotiations and Ambassador Perera currently chairs the Ad-hoc Committee on Terrorism which is seeking to finalize the Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism.  

In the 1950s, Sri Lanka was a member of the group of countries which advanced the five principles of peaceful co-existence, which have since gained wide acceptance.  From 1978, Sri Lanka has gradually increased its participation in the negotiation of treaties in various fields.  It has also become party to a range of treaties. 

Sri Lanka has always advocated the settlement of internal and international disputes by peaceful means.  Even in the case the LTTE, a most brutal terrorist group that challenged the very existence of the State, Sri Lanka, in the first instance, sought to end the conflict through negotiations.  In 2006, it attended three rounds of negotiations in the vain hope that peace could be achieved through negotiations.  It was only after these efforts were rebuffed, and endless and bloody provocations offered, that Sri Lanka launched a limited humanitarian mission.  The government of Sri Lanka is committed to protecting the rights of all its people and fulfilling their just needs to enable them to realize their dreams.  

Strengthening the rule of law at national and international level is our common responsibility and Sri Lanka strongly supports all stakeholders in fulfilling this goal.   Sri Lanka is willing to join all other governments in improving the rule of law at the national and international levels under the umbrella of the United Nations and is willing to contribute to this effort. 

Thank you, Madame Chair.

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