Declaration - open debate: “The promotion and strengthening of the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security: the Rule of Law among Nations” (eng; fr)

New York, 12.01.2023 - Declaration speech of Federal Councillor and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis at the ministerial debate of the UN Security Council New York - check against delivery

Mr. President,

Switzerland congratulates Japan on its presidency and thanks Japan for organising this debate. I would also like to thank the Secretary General, the President of the International Court of Justice and Professor Dapo Akande for their valuable contributions.
This is the first time I have the honour to speak as an elected member of this body. I would like to stress that Switzerland looks forward to working for international peace and security with all the members of the Security Council.

Mr. President,

Today, international law governs the fundamental aspects of our coexistence. As an international community, we have succeeded over the past decades in building together a multilateral system based on universal rules.

The rule of law is therefore the backbone of this system, based on the Charter of the United Nations. It is the duty of every state to respect the norms and principles set out in it. The Charter prohibits the use or the threat of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of another state. It obliges states to settle their disputes peacefully. And it is also in the Charter that fundamental human rights and fundamental freedoms are anchored. It is our duty, as members of the Security Council, to ensure that these rules are respected.

The principles of the Charter are being put to the test today. They have been flagrantly violated in the case of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine.

A key principle of the rule of law is respect for due process. In order for this Council to strengthen its credibility, it must respect these standards and act in a transparent and consistent manner. In this regard, Switzerland welcomes the work of the Ombudsperson to the ISIL and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee to ensure rule of law in UN sanctions.

We intend to work with all Council members to ensure that other sanctions regimes also benefit from such a mechanism.

International humanitarian law continues to be violated in many armed conflicts. Serious violations of human rights take place every day. Switzerland condemns these serious violations of international law wherever they occur in the world. Moreover, international criminal law and accountability are not sufficiently implemented.

In view of this, we must not give up. We must all support the work of international bodies such as the Human Rights Council, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the various UN investigation and fact-finding mechanisms. It is crucial that all states, as well as the Security Council, cooperate fully with these bodies.

At the national level, too, the weakening of the rule of law and human rights violations are often early indicators of violence or armed conflict. The Security Council must take this into account, for instance in its decisions on peacekeeping and special political missions.

Mr. President,

Our Constitution states that “the strength of a people is measured by the well-being of its weakest members”. The rule of law protects us all, whether we are a small or large state, a strong or weak individual.

In 2010, former Swiss General Assembly President Joseph Deiss said: “The Charter must remain our ultimate guide. Peace and security are our primary calling”. I wholeheartedly endorse these words.

I thank you.

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