Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark
at the United Nations Security Council
“The promotion and Strengthening of the Rule of Law in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security”
Permanent Representative of Denmark,
Ambassador Martin Bille Hermann
12 January 2023
I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden - and my own country - Denmark.
Rule of law is a vital prerequisite for justice, peace and prosperity, and adherence to it has significant and positive impact on the global community. It is a powerful safeguard against the primitive doctrine that might is right. But the rule of law is under pressure. In the Secretary-General’s latest yearly report on “Strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities” it is clear that the rule of law must be protected on every front.
International law, including the UN Charter, and its prohibition on the acquisition of territory by the use of force, applies to all states, and must be respected by all states. When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, it constituted a blatant violation of international law. Whilst horrified by Russia’s actions, we are pleased to see how a majority of countries, across regions and continents, have stood by the UN Charter and the rule of law, and rejected this violation in words and deeds. The adoption of the General Assembly resolutions with an overwhelming majority, including in October 2022, characterizing Russia’s attempt to annex parts of Ukraine as illegal and in contravention of the UN Charter, exemplify our strong and collective response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the international rules-based order.
To safeguard the rule of law it is not enough to condemn the Russian aggression. Both the Russian Federation, and those individuals responsible for committing international crimes must be held accountable for their brutal behavior. The Security Council is entrusted with the primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security. Russia’s use of the veto and prevention of the Council in fulfilling its mandate is unacceptable. We fully support and urge other UN members to join initiatives to limit the use of veto, including the ACT-code of conduct and the French/Mexican initiative on suspension of Veto Powers in Cases of Mass Atrocity. We also welcome the adoption of the UNGA resolution 76/262 on the veto-initiative, which was a step in the right direction to create more transparency and accountability for the use of the veto.
We are further encouraged by the multiple accountability efforts, including the ongoing investigations into the situation in Ukraine by the International Criminal Court, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, and the current case at the International Court of Justice. Holding Russia accountable is paramount to prevent future breaches of international law.
The rule of law and accountability, including access to justice and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence, as mentioned by the Secretary General in his latest report on “Strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities”, can of course not be achieved without substantial work on the part of international courts and institutions of the global community. However, this work relies on our support – both politically and financially. During the recent UN annual budget negotiations, the Nordic countries underscored the need to uphold the rule of law and the protection of human rights through UN institutions. They are without a doubt a prerequisite for the rules-based international order that we are all committed to.