Attorney General calls for universal approach to human rights, democracy and rule of law at International Conference in Sana’a [Archives:2004/703/Reportage]

January 15 2004

In a speech at an Arab regional conference in Sana'a, Yemen, the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith called for the adoption of a universal approach to human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In addition he urged more states, particularly from the Arab world, to ratify the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court.
Speaking at the 2-day inter-governmental Regional Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the Role of the International Criminal Court, held during 11-12 January, the Attorney General emphasized the link between human rights, democracy, rule of law and economic prosperity. He also welcomed existing programs of reform, and underlined the UK's willingness to assist in constructive partnerships.
Commenting before he left Sana'a on Tuesday the Attorney General said:
“I am delighted to have had the opportunity to attend this important event and add the United Kingdom's support to the call made at the Conference for more states, particularly those in the Arab world, to become parties to the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court. The Court's establishment last year represents a milestone in the development of international justice and the continuing fight against impunity for perpetrators of the most serious crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. The UK remains one of the strongest supporters of the ICC and is working nationally and within the EU to promote the universality of the Court's jurisdiction.
“Almost half of the states in the world are parties to the Rome Statute,” he continued. “But if the ICC is to be truly universal, it is vital to increase representation from states in the Arab world and in Asia. This increased participation would be mutually strengthening. The Court would not only increase its jurisdiction and legitimacy, but would also be able to draw on the valuable legal traditions and jurisprudence of Arab states. At the same time, joining the fight against impurity for perpetrators of the worst international crimes would bolster the domestics judicial systems of those Arab states which choose to become parties to the Rome Statute.
“A combination of strengthening the rule of law and democratic processes, and increasing the promotion and protection of human rights, underpins sustainable economic development. I welcome the initiative taken by the Yemeni Government to hold a conference seeking ways to build regional consensus on the way forward. It is for Governments and people in the region to take the lead in addressing these issues. The British Government encourages the efforts they are making. The UK has much experience to offer, particularly in areas such as human rights, economic and legal reform, political pluralism and the role of women. We stand ready to assist, in a constructive partnership, those in the region who are promoting reform for the benefit of all.”
During his visit to Yemen, the attorney General also met the President and Prime Minister of Yemen. He held discussions with the Yemeni Foreign Minister, Dr. Abu Bakr al- Kirby, as well with the Minister of Justice, the Minister for Human Rights, the Yemeni Attorney General and other leading Yemeni figures. Discussion covered a range of issues, including counter-terrorism cooperation, the UK's said program for Yemen and human rights and rule of law issues. The Attorney General also held bilateral discussions with other delegations at the conference, including discussion on a justice reform cooperation program with Sudan and justice reform issues in Iraq, and had a short meeting with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo