Rule of law essential: Zuma

By Drum Digital
25 September 2012

The rule of law was essential in creating a better world, President Jacob Zuma said in a speech prepared for delivery at the 67th sitting of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York on Monday.

South Africa's foreign policy aimed to contribute to a better South Africa, Africa and world, which could only become realised via a global commitment to the rule of law and human rights, said Zuma.

He said South Africa was comfortable participating in such a discussion as South Africa was a democratic nation founded on the rule of law, human dignity, equality, freedom and the supremacy of the Constitution.

Supremacy of the law, and equality, accountability and fairness before the law were required principles to adhere to the rule of law, Zuma said.

"It also entails participation in decision-making, legal certainty and the avoidance of arbitrariness, as well as procedural and legal transparency."

He said the rule of law was an integral concept in the work of the UN Security Council, with the rule of law and human development inextricably linked.

Zuma said lifting standards of living for the disadvantaged through providing essential services and fulfilling socio-economic rights was part of promoting the rule of law.

Africa continued to play a role in maintaining peace, dependent on the rule law, through avenues such as bilateral and trilateral agreements, and mediation efforts around the world.

Promoting the rule of law at an international level was just as important as maintaining rule of law at a national level, Zuma said.

If this did not happen, the UN was open to accusations of hypocrisy.

Zuma said, "We need to consider the fairness of the rules of international law."

One means of doing so was reviewing the composition of the Security Council, as its present form was undemocratic and unrepresentative, which undermined its legitimacy regardless of its decisions.

"It is common cause that the current configuration of the Council is unfair. It does not reflect the contemporary geo-political realities especially with respect to Africa," said Zuma.

As long as the Security Council, the UN's primary organ for maintaining peace, was unrepresentative and undemocratic, it had to be asked whether its decisions were fair.

Zuma said there was a need to ensure greater accountability for actions taken in the name of the Security Council.

He encouraged greater use of the International Court of Justice, the UN's primary judicial organ, especially regarding complex legal questions.

"Let me emphasise that South Africa remains committed to the global promotion of the rule of law, and will continue cooperating with the UN system to ensure success of the international human rights architecture," Zuma said.

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