“Rule of Law is not a sector, it’s a principle of governance and it should be present everywhere where power is conducted” said Per Bergling, one of the panelists in the FBA Rule of Law Seminar.
In memory of Count Folke Bernadotte the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) annually hosts Folke Bernadotte Day ‘Folkedagen’. This year the day was commemorated with a seminar focusing on UN Rule of Law Assistance in Peace Operations in Africa. The aim of this seminar was to inspire debate and discussion on the UN’s commitment to the rule of law and to identify ways to enhance and extend good practices, innovations and accumulated experience in order to bridge critical capacity-gaps within the area of rule of law in peace operations.
Ann Bernes, Head of the Department for Policy Research and Development at the FBA opened the seminar with a speech honouring the memory of Count Bernadotte – a Swedish officer, diplomat and the UN’s first official mediator.
Kristina Simion, Rule of Law Officer at the FBA, provided an overview of the FBA’s research report on UN Peace Operations and Rule of Law Assistance in Africa, 1989-2010.
According to Simion, the rationale behind the report was to fill the knowledge gap in terms of comprehensive empirical studies on rule of law assistance in UN peace operations. Without a systematic overview it has been difficult to properly assess and appreciate past practices in order to identify possible future trends, challenges and demands for rule of law assistance.
Lennart Aspegren: Former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)
Aspegren explained the importance of prosecuting perpetrators of genocide, both as part of the reparations process and in order to inhibit future conflict. He stated there is a great demand for the rule of law and justice all over the world. He illustrated his point by describing his surprise when meeting people ‘in need’ who frequently list their primary desire as justice - as opposed to food or water.
Per Bergling: Legal Adviser on International, Law, Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Bergling spoke about the General Assembly’s High Level Meeting on the Rule of Law due to be held in New York on 24 September. Mr. Bergling stated the meeting will be an opportunity for member states, and the UN, to define rule of law and discuss goals and methods for strengthening it.
Jeffrey Buenger: Legal Advisor to the Standing Police Capacity - Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions, UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations
Buenger spoke about the work of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations noting they have improved over the years and will continue to do so. In talking about his experiences from earlier missions, he outlined the challenges associated not with finding suitably qualified officers, but with finding qualified officers who can also transfer their knowledge to the host state and its citizens.
Jacques Mwepu: Head of Department for International Affairs, Swedish Prison and Probation Service, Former Senior Prison Adviser, UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire
Mwepu described his experiences and stated that correction services are a relatively new but vital component of peace operations. He outlined some of the key challenges facing correction services, most notably the issue of overcrowding. Mwepu stressed the need for democracy, fair trials and judicial procedures in order to combat the challenges faced.
Download the complete seminar report
Photo by Robert Berggren