The principle of the rule of law mandates that all people, institutions and entities, public and private – including the state itself – are accountable before the law. The rule of law protects the vulnerable. It prevents discrimination, harassment and other abuses, strengthens trust in institutions and supports strong, fair and inclusive societies. It is also the basis of international cooperation and multi-nationalism. “No person, no prime minister or president, no state or country is above the law,” said U.S. Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
“That is an ironclad commitment for the United States and a fundamental principle of the United Nations. We are committed to upholding and acting strictly in accordance with the U.N. Charter, which offers legal protections that benefits all states,” she said.
The United Nations Charter promotes respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, even as it prohibits the threat or use of force.
And yet, the world is at grave risk of lawlessness. “Today, certain states are flagging or failing in their commitment to the U.N. Charter’s principles –- or enabling rule breakers to carry on without accountability,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “In Russia, in the DPRK, in Iran, in Nicaragua, and in Syria, horrifying reports detail how governments are unjustly detaining, torturing, or killing political opponents, activists, human rights defenders, or journalists. And in Burma, Belarus, Cuba, Iran, and Sudan we have seen peaceful protestors –- people demanding their basic human rights –- attacked and abused.”
And then, there is Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. “There is no international legal basis for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “We must hold Russia accountable –- just as we must hold accountable all those who do not respect sovereignty, territorial integrity, and human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
“For our part, the United States will continue to advance the rule of law both internationally and domestically. And we are willing to work with anyone seeking to do the same,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “We will continue to do everything – everything – in our power to institutionalize respect for human rights and the rule of law at all levels. International law can save us from hell. And with any luck, it will bring us closer to peace.”