Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Claver Gatete has condemned the interference by some countries in judicial matters especially in developing states, saying this undermines the rule of law. He was delivering remarks during a UN Security Council Open Debate on the Rule of Law on January 12 in New York. ALSO READ: Rule of law: Rwanda tops region, new report shows Gatete said that foreign interference in judicial processes and the independence of the courts have an overreaching impact on the effective promotion of the rule of law and are in sharp contradiction to the very rule. “There is a need to address this alarming behavior and act decisively to safeguard the democratic institutions of developing countries,” he continued. “Rwanda believes that respect for international law is founded on the conviction that international behavior must be governed through a set of universally applicable rules and international law that all member states have a responsibility to uphold.” Gatete also noted that promoting the rule of law is a core value of the Rwandan government, declaring that the country has laid a foundation for promoting a culture of accountability and zero tolerance to impunity. “Rwanda strongly believes that accountability and zero tolerance to impunity is an essential precursor to ensuring the rule of law and sustainable peace,” he said. ALSO READ: Accountability is a collective responsibility According to Gatete, the Rule of Law is rooted in the conviction that international behavior must be governed not by the whims of a few powerful states but by strict adherence to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. “There must be sovereign equality of states, peaceful settlement of disputes, refraining from the threat or use of force, and non-interference in internal affairs to preserve the centrality of the UN charter and rules-based international order,” he said. Genocide fugitives “While we celebrate our shared commitment to accountability, in conjunction with our pledge to protect future generations from mass atrocities, it is our collective obligation to acknowledge that the wounds of the survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda will not be healed when member states shelter remaining fugitives instead of bringing them to justice,” said Gatete in his remarks. He declared that it is disheartening that some UN member states continue to fail to honor their legal obligations under international law to cooperate in bringing Genocide fugitives to justice. ALSO READ: Genocide fugitives should be brought to book –Busingye “For a long time, Rwanda’s prosecution has struggled to obtain the cooperation of member states in apprehending fugitives, even where there were clear leads and evidence of their presence in those countries,” he said. “It is imperative that we continue to seek justice for survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi as we strive towards healing our nation, and the lack of cooperation hinders these procedures.” Gatete also stressed that strengthening the rule of law involves respect for the norms of international law and recognition of the primary responsibility of States to protect their populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes, adding that Rwanda strongly believes that laws are as good as their implementation. Meanwhile, speaking at the opening the meeting, Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized that “from the smallest village to the global stage, the rule of law is all that stands between peace and stability and a brutal struggle for power and resources”. While today’s open debate sends a strong message that all States must adhere to international standards, the state of the world shows that the international community has far to go in this regard. “We are at a grave risk of the rule of lawlessness,” he stressed. Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Japanese foreign minister who also serves as UN Security Council President for January, said that the rule of law is intrinsically linked with the Council’s responsibility, can only be upheld through multilateralism and should be anchored in trust. Further still, the rule of law does not allow any country to rewrite borders by force, he stressed, adding that such action cannot be justified through arbitrary interpretations of the Charter of the United Nations or international law.