November 24, 2017

Speech by the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Demetris Christofias at the High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels – United Nations, 24 September 2012

Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s meeting is held against the background of the recent worrying developments in the world and massive abuses of human rights.

The rule of law is a fundamental principle upon which the European Union is based. As the country currently holding the rotating Presidency of the Union, I wish to highlight that this is a guiding principle of all of the EU’s internal and external action. The European Union’s position will be later presented by President Barroso.

Lack of respect for the rule of law, leads to bad governance, civil unrest, political instability with serious security implications, both at the national and international level. It is crucial, therefore, that we all focus our efforts towards the universal promotion of the rule of law and for the strict monitoring of its application.

This is an enormous challenge for both the United Nations and its member states. It requires close cooperation between the United Nations, regional actors, member states and non-state actors, for the constant exchange of relevant data and other useful information, in order to allow for close monitoring of areas of crisis and early coordination for the purpose of conflict-prevention.

The Republic of Cyprus, having fully subscribed to the pledges made by the EU and its Member States, commits itself to reinforcing the rule of law through national policy and to uphold the Charter of the United Nations, in order to strengthen the Organization’s main pillars of work; peace and security, human rights and development.

At the national level, Cyprus retains constitutionally a separation of powers, ensuring the independence of the judiciary and access to justice for all. Cyprus is fully committed to the protection of human rights and gender equality. In the context of the labor market it has been the goal of consecutive Governments in Cyprus for gender equality to be incorporated in the social and economic policy of the state.

Mr. President, distinguished delegates, Cyprus acknowledges that the fight against impunity concerns us all. It is a stepping stone in establishing the rule of law in post-conflict societies. The International Criminal Court is the competent institution to fight impunity in the world and we welcome the increased participation to the Rome Statute. At the same time, Cyprus, pursuant to the complementarity principle of the Statute, has incorporated in its national penal code the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, punishable with life imprisonment. Cyprus has also initiated the internal process for the amendments to the Rome Statute on the crime of aggression, adopted in 2010 at the Review Conference in Kampala.

The international community is sending a strong message today by organizing this first high level meeting on the rule of law. Most importantly, the adoption of the political declaration demonstrates the international community’s commitment and paves the way for the future.  In a divided world, the concept of the rule of law is one of the greatest unifying factors, perhaps the greatest, the nearest we are likely to approach to a universal principle.

Thank you Mr. President.