Rule of law’ helpful in addressing economic crisis, archbishop tells UN

Rule of law’ helpful in addressing economic crisis, archbishop tells UN

Archbishop Celestino Migliore
Archbishop Celestino Migliore


Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the apostolic nuncio leading the Holy See’s observer mission to the United Nations, on Tuesday addressed the Sixth Committee of the U.N. General Assembly on international aspects of the rule of law. The current economic crisis, he said, “shows that a strong rule of law could be very helpful in the promotion of fair and stable economic development.”

“The interconnected nature of the global market has increased the need for debate on and implementation of the rule of law, so as to establish a more just global economic system,” he continued. “In the developing world, the rule of law can provide social and economic growth while in the developed world, through just regulations, it can ensure greater economic stability and fairness.”

The archbishop insisted that the rule of law is the mechanism by which international organizations and national governments “are called to provide effective recognition of the dignity of all persons regardless of their social, economic, or political status.”

However, the rule of law is presently perceived to be more of a bureaucratic exercise than a reasonable implementation of helpful laws. In such a situation, “the rule of law could become insufficient by itself to defend the dignity of the human person.”

“The rights of persons are not simply a set of legal norms but represent, above all, fundamental values.”

Archbishop Migliore emphasized that these values must be sustained and fostered by society to safeguard the dignity of persons in culture, the public sphere, and the conduct of society.

“Although the rule of law is not in itself sufficient, it remains nevertheless an indispensable instrument for the protection of human dignity,” the archbishop continued, noting the implied demand for the rule of law in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The rule of law, he continued, is a vital component of states to protect their peoples from genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

“It also provides for the international community to intervene when a State is unable or unwilling to exercise this fundamental responsibility,” he added, while clarifying that such intervention does not concern only the use of force.

He suggested that the U.N. enhances the rule of law by making international treaties and conventions and directing more attention to international norms.

Archbishop Migliore concluded by recalling that U.N. agencies and monitoring bodies must respect the intent and desires of their member states.

“A treaty body system which moves away from the original intent of the parties and expands its mandates beyond the power given by States, risks undermining its own credibility and legitimacy and can discourage States from joining conventions,” he said.