October 23, 2017

Statement of ABA President Hilarie Bass Re: Observing United Nations Day 2017

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2017 – The American Bar Association joins the world community in recognizing United Nations Day 2017, which marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter. The ABA has had a long-standing and productive relationship with the UN, beginning in 1943, when ABA members participated in a series of conferences for lawyers and legal scholars resulting in the report entitled, “International Law of the Future,” which contained many provisions that would later be adopted in the Charter of the United Nations. Today, the ABA continues to be committed to advancing the rule of law at home and throughout the world. 

The ABA defends the rule of law and stands up to threats to the rule of law here in the United States, as well as supporting rule of law throughout the world. Through the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative, we work in more than 50 countries around the globe to support justice sector partners in advancing legal reform, strengthening legal institutions and expanding access to justice. The ABA Center for Human Rights addresses critical human rights issues, supporting human rights defenders and developing policy, projects and educational initiatives to advance human rights both nationally and internationally. The ABA’s joint program with the UN Development Programme, the ABA-UNDP International Legal Resource Center, provides pro bono legal expertise for technical assistance projects and advocates for good governance and the rule of law on a global scale.

The UN has worked to develop international law as well as ensure respect for it through its institutions and endeavors. Its core documents, the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, serve as the indispensable foundation for freedom, peace and justice in the world and affirm the importance of human rights as protected by the rule of law.

With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN provides an action plan for people, the planet and prosperity, with the ever-continuing goal of global peace. Sustainability and justice go hand-in- hand. The UN defines sustainability as the promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for our planet and for present and future generations. That means reining in environmental damage, addressing climate change, alleviating extreme poverty and working toward justice around the world, including at home. Those are the world’s goals and those are the ABA’s goals. We recognize our ability and our responsibility to contribute to each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The rule of law is crucial to sustainability in all its dimensions. Fractures in the rule of law have contributed to nearly every costly international challenge around the world – health pandemics; migrants fleeing poverty; violent extremism; and the illicit trade of weapons, drugs and people.

There can be no guarantee of human rights without the rule of law; and without a commitment to human rights, the rule of law cannot be just. Countries governed by consent of the governed, with fair and predictable laws that also protect minority rights, are more likely to sustain healthy relations with one another and with their own citizens. The rule of law promotes security and creates economic opportunity. It is the most important principle that the ABA stands for. The ABA will continue to actively engage through a multiplicity of activities to promote the rule of law and to help ensure the success of the 2030 Agenda.

Go to www.abalegalfactcheck.com for the ABA’s new feature that cites case and statutory law and other legal precedents to distinguish legal fact from fiction.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at www.americanbar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.