Remarks at a Meeting of the Sixth Committee on Agenda Item 84: Rule of Law at the National and International Levels

Elizabeth Grosso
Attorney Adviser
New York, New York
October 7, 2022


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We appreciate the Secretary-General’s report on strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities. We fully agree with the Secretary-General’s conclusion that “challenges to the rule of law remain on almost every front.” Both the UN and its Member States must rise to the challenge of protecting the rule of law at both the national and international levels.

We were pleased to see the excellent work of the UN in the rule of law space documented in this report, in numerous countries. We particularly appreciate the UN’s efforts as it applies to access to justice for, and discrimination against, women and girls. We also note the UN’s work in increasing accountability for terrorism and for other serious crimes, including corruption.

The UN cannot bear this burden alone. It is up to Member States to protect and enhance the rule of law in their own jurisdictions, and to support other States and civil society organizations seeking to do the same. The United States takes great effort to maintain and protect the rule of law in our own country. The United States also actively supports rule of law initiatives across the globe. A rule of law program administered by the State Department, for example, provided training for 5,700 judges, provided legal aid or victim’s assistance to almost 60,000 individuals from low income or marginalized communities, and trained and supported over 20,000 human rights defenders, all between 2017 and 2021. The United States Agency for International Development, USAID, recently circulated for external comment its draft Rule of Law Policy. This policy, the final version of which is forthcoming, outlines an ambitious vision for the support of rule of law as a critical component of USAID’s humanitarian and development mission. These projects are only a portion of the recent U.S. activity to support the rule of law.

Early on in the pandemic, the United States understood the critical link between COVID and rule of law. Societies that respect and defend human rights, fundamental freedoms, democratic institutions, and the rule of law are best equipped to respond transparently and effectively to crises. As early as July 2020, the United States released a statement outlining principles in support of democracy, good governance, and human rights in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those principles continue to guide the U.S. COVID response, including among other principles that governments must remain accountable to their obligations and commitments to respect human rights, must respect freedom of expression, and must provide equal access to medical care and social services regardless of gender, religion or belief, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or ability.

The United States is supportive of the UN’s efforts to promote the international rule of law. A centerpiece of the international rule of law is the UN Charter. As President Biden said in the General Assembly Hall a few weeks ago during the General Debate: “the U.N. Charter’s very basis of a stable and just rule-based order is under attack by those who wish to tear it down or distort it for their own political advantage.”

The United States also takes note of the UN’s efforts on international criminal justice. The United States has a deep and historic commitment to justice and accountability for the worst crimes known to humanity. The international rule of law means that no individual and no nation is above it. The United States is therefore supporting a range of international investigations into atrocities in Ukraine. This includes those conducted by the International Criminal Court, the United Nations, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The United States welcomes the opening of the investigation by the ICC into atrocity crimes committed in Ukraine. As a court of last resort, the ICC has a critical role to play in the international system of justice.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman