With its commitment to eliminate lawlessness of terrorism around the world, the United States of America today outlined how rule of law safeguards human rights.
In her remarks at the Community of Democracies UN Democracy Caucus in NYC, Deputy Assistant Secretary Paula Schriefer says countries on every continent, the US is working to train police, prosecutors and judges to build their capacity, boost their technical skills, incorporate best practices and to themselves obey the law and safeguard human rights as they go about their work.
“The core of the rule of law is that every citizen enjoys individual rights which are protected by law and that such rights must be respected and protected by governments in a transparent and accountable way, consistent with international human rights law.” – Ms. Schriefer
She says even government and government officials must obey the law and are answerable to the law if they fail to obey it.
In a state where there is rule of law, the rich and poor, the powerful and the weak, and members of minorities can all expect that the law will be applied fairly, equally and predictably to them, she added.
According to Ms. Schriefer, the United States supports equal access to justice for women and girls including in cases of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
“We addressed this topic in the pledges we submitted in connection with Monday’s High-Level Meeting on the Rule of Law.” -Ms. Schriefer
The US government wants to make certain that across the United States, police and prosecutors develop best practices in domestic abuse cases to guarantee that victims who report abuse and assault are protected, evidence is gathered and preserved, and cases are prosecuted.
In addition, Ms. Schriefer says civil society plays a central role in ensuring rule of law.
All over the world, there is an upsurge in civil society that has helped promote government accountability, equality and fairness before the law, and wider citizen participation in decision making, she stressed.
Some governments have responded by cracking down, using law selectively and arbitrarily to punish critical speech, she noted.
She pointed out that each time a reporter is silenced, or an activist is threatened, it does not strengthen a government, it weakens a nation.
“You can count on the United States to push back against this and provide political and financial support for embattled civil society groups around the world.” -Ms. Schriefer
According to Ms. Schriefer, the antithesis of rule of law is corruption.
Experience has shown the world that government transparency and openness are the most effective ways to counter corruption.
Ms. Schriefer says through the Open Government Partnership (OGP), in which many of you in this room are involved from both government and civil society we are working together to increase government transparency world-wide and make government more responsive to citizens.
“This is the core of democracy and is essential for both reinforcing rule of law and reducing corruption.” -Ms. Schriefer
She says corruption kills a country’s potential. It drains resources, she added.
“It protects dishonest leaders. It takes away people’s drive to improve themselves and their communities.” -Ms. Schriefer
Finally, Ms. Schriefer underlines that rule of law creates a level economic playing field.
She notes that countries with open governments, open economies, and open societies increasingly flourish.
“They become more prosperous, healthier, more secure, and more peaceful.” -Ms. Schriefer
She emphasizes that countries that have strong rule of law are better equipped than autocracies to offer constructive outlets for political grievances and create opportunities for mobility and prosperity that provide alternatives to violent extremism, a danger that we have personally felt all too closely in recent days.
The US asserts that the rule of law and transitional justice are critical in preventing conflict and atrocities and rebuilding societies torn apart by systemic violence.
US believes that strengthening the rule of law requires more than technical expertise. It also requires political will and coordinated action by a wide range of international actors.
The United States, together with its partners, enthusiastically supports initiatives in states such as the DRC, Cote d’Ivoire, and elsewhere to bolster domestic capacities to investigate and prosecute atrocity crimes and to build justice systems that can deliver fair, impartial justice.