Peace, security and the rule of law | #Act4RuleofLaw


Peace, security and the rule of law

A solid and legitimate rule of law system protects the human rights of people, holds power accountable, prevents violent crime and provides fair and legitimate avenues to resolve conflict. In societies where the rule of law does not exist, there is a greater tendency towards violence and social insecurity. 

The United Nations holds as its mandate, in Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations, that disputes or situations in which peace may be broken shall be settled by peaceful means and in conformity with justice and the principles of international law. It is, therefore, one of the purposes of the United Nations to maintain peace and security, in accordance with the rule of law. 

This also applies to situations of armed conflict in which the United Nations intervenes to protect civilians, grounding its efforts on ensuring peace, security and the rule of law. Thus, in the aftermath of armed conflict, one of the key elements in rebuilding a state and society is the establishment of rule of law institutions. This is vital to guaranteeing immediate security and stability as well as restoring and consolidating peace alongside ensuring long-term security. In this way, the establishment and maintenance of the rule of law are fundamental to conflict prevention, and post-conflict peacebuilding. 

Institutions and norms are the essential tools of the rule of law. A strong rule of law system includes trusted and fair judicial and correctional institutions, along with accountable police and law enforcement agencies that fully respect human rights. In particular, justice systems must be accessible to all people and must vindicate rights within a legitimate system. Where justice and the rule of law exist, and courts and judicial systems function to resolve conflicts peacefully, there is trust and social cohesion on the basis of equal rights. Establishing such conditions is equally important for peace and security, human rights, and sustainable development.  

The United Nations was founded on the recognition of the importance of judicial institutions in both maintaining peace and security and as a tool of the rule of law. This is reflected in the International Court of Justice, an institution created to enable Member States to resolve their disputes peacefully under the strengthening of the rule of law worldwide. In addition, the United Nations has supported the creation of tribunals in national post-conflict situations to prosecute those crimes that are particularly serious for the international community, for instance, genocide as investigated in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. If there is impunity, there can be no long-term peace and security. 

Recently, new challenges have emerged in societies for peace and security that threaten the rule of law. In addition to traditional armed conflicts, societies are encountering new types of criminal violence, such as terrorism and that perpetrated by transnational organized crime groups. The United Nations has been working to eradicate these challenges, tackling and preventing terrorism and transnational crimes, by strengthening the rule of law. Enhancing the rule of law is the cornerstone of a society less prone to these threats to the peace and security of its people.