I have the honour to speak on behalf of Australia, Canada and my own country, New Zealand. Our countries are strong supporters of the rule of law at the national and international levels. Today we will focus on the agreed theme for this year: the laws and practices of Member States in implementing international law.
Adherence to the rule of law is of vital importance. One of the main goals of the United Nations when it was founded was to bring the rule of law to international relations. Today, we also recognise that the rule of law is essential to achieving the UN’s three pillars – security, human rights and development. At the national level, for common law countries like ours, international legal obligations must be translated into domestic legislation. Full domestic implementation allows for peaceful coexistence, cooperation, and the development of relations between States, aided by the assurance of the legal frameworks and dispute settlement procedures that international law affords.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand welcome the Secretary General’s second annual report on United Nations rule of law activities, which highlights continuing progress towards a more comprehensive and joint approach among UN entities. We see much value in the work of the UN Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, supported by the Rule of Law Unit, to assist Member States in formulating legislation and policies to reflect international law instruments, principles and standards. CANZ supports improving coordination and coherence of technical assistance and capacity building as a valuable way to support the rule of law, in line with national priorities and plans.
Within the context of the Review Conference of the Rome Statute, CANZ continued to encourage States Parties to take necessary measures to implement the Rome Statute domestically and supported the call for increased coordination in the provision of technical assistance aimed at strengthening domestic jurisdictions with a view to improving their capacity to prosecute serious international crimes.
CANZ is supportive of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s work to promote the rule of law and strengthen the capacity of national jurisdictions to implement international legal conventions. We consider that work to combat corruption and terrorism and to strengthen criminal justice systems is of particular value.
Each of our countries has also been engaged in collective action with States in the UN and in our regions towards strengthening the rule of law.
New Zealand has been working with Pacific Island countries to enhance their capacity to implement international legal instruments domestically. This includes collaboration on international counter-terrorism and anti-corruption conventions and anti-money laundering norms, which can be time-consuming to comply with, especially for small States with limited resources. New Zealand also funds participation by Pacific countries in a regional Working Group on Counter-Terrorism. New Zealand is pleased to support UNDP and UNODC in partnership with the Pacific Islands Forum to assist ratification of counter-terrorism and anti-corruption conventions, development of legislation in these areas and provision of training to criminal justice officials and prosecutors. Further afield, New Zealand collaborates with South East Asian countries to assist compliance with anti-money laundering norms, and supports justice sector development in Afghanistan.
Like New Zealand, Australia also supports regional efforts to give domestic legal effect to international legal instruments and obligations including on counter-terrorism, corruption and transnational crime. In addition to the Pacific, Australia also supports efforts in South East Asia and Africa in developing and implementing legal frameworks relating to terrorism, transnational crimes such as people smuggling, money laundering and terrorism financing, international legal cooperation in criminal matters and police regulation. For example, Australia is currently providing assistance to a number of Pacific island countries to modernise legislation dealing with transnational crimes, police powers, and criminal offences and procedures, as well as anti-money laundering and proceeds of crime techniques and legislation. Australia’s Framework for Law and Justice Engagement with the Pacific, which was released on 15 June 2010, establishes priorities and principles which will guide Australia’s future engagement with the Pacific law and justice sector, in particular to strengthen the rule of law and promote access to justice and human rights.
Canada is engaged in strengthening the rule of law in Afghanistan. Since 2006, Canada has provided almost $90 million to the reform of the Afghan National Police, the support of the justice sector, and the enhancement of the corrections sector. Canada has also recently announced an Action Plan for the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security which calls for continued engagement with multilateral partners on the implementation of these resolutions in peace operations, fragile states and conflict-affected situations. Canada recently supported the updating of a guide of international humanitarian and human rights law with regard to the protection of children in armed conflict in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1612. Canada also continues to be a strong supporter of the international criminal justice system and encourages the strengthening of cooperation between domestic and international jurisdictions in regards to the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes.
Efforts to promote the rule of law and implementation of international legal commitments at the national level are of critical importance. CANZ welcomes the work by Member States to ratify treaties and implement international legal norms and standards domestically to ensure the preservation of effective, multilateral engagement based on the rule of law. We also recognise the need to provide effective and coordinated assistance to support States in this work.
CANZ remains committed to working with the United Nations and Member States to encourage and foster greater domestic implementation of international law.
Thank you Madam Chair.
nd welcomes the draft resolution on the “Question of Tokelau” and appreciates the interest of members of this Committee on this issue. In particular, I thank the delegations of Papua New Guinea and Fiji for their contributions to the Committee on the Question of Tokelau. Tokelau is relevant to New Zealand both as the administering authority and also as a country fully committed to the principle of self-determination.
Twice in the past five years the people of Tokelau have voted in United Nations-supervised self-determination referenda. In each referendum Tokelau’s electorate did not reach the threshold they had set for a change of status from that of territory to one of self-government in free association with New Zealand. The details of that process have been thoroughly reported by the Secretariat and are well known to those who take a close interest in the issue of self-determination.
While it might seem strange to some that these self-determination votes resulted in the status quo it is important, not least at this stage of the decolonisation process when the Second Decade is concluding, that this remains an option and one that should be fully respected.
Self-determination is important. So too is development and the very viability of small and vulnerable communities like those in Tokelau. It is for this reason that in early 2008 leaders from both New Zealand and from Tokelau agreed to focus on further improving essential services on the atolls, rather than moving in the medium term to a further act of self-determination. That continues to be the approach both partners are taking. At a time when global challenges add extra pressure onto small and vulnerable communities such as Tokelau, this focus on the core needs of the atoll populations seems particularly appropriate.
Tokelau’s needs are primarily met by New Zealand but there are others who contribute. It is important to acknowledge the assistance of the international community and members of the United Nations system. Particular thanks are due to the United Nations Development Programme, working through its regional office in Samoa, and the World Health Organisation.
The right to self-determination is fundamental. It deserves no less than our full support. It is, however, not sufficient on its own. The peoples who seek to exercise self-determination must also have the opportunity to develop their full needs. That is what New Zealand is committed to for the people of Tokelau. We welcome the ongoing interest of the Special Committee (C24) in Tokelau and we will continue to report to it on developments there.