José Alvarez (headshot)On September 4, José Alvarez, Herbert and Rose Rubin Professor of International Law, made a presentation to the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, a subsidiary body of the U.N. Security Council. Invited to speak by the South African Mission to the U.N., Alvarez was one of only two experts asked to address questions surrounding how the U.N. promotes the rule of law in African nations and specifically whether the U.N. mechanisms deployed for this purpose should themselves adhere to the rule of law. The public session of the working group was attended by all 15 members of the Security Council as well as representatives of other U.N. members and NGOs.

In his presentation, Alvarez addressed one of the Council's tools for resolving conflicts in Africa and for encouraging respect for the rule of law—namely, the Council's power to refer situations to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. Under the Rome Statute of the ICC, the Council has the power to refer to the Court situations involving the commission of international crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes) that the Council deems threaten the peace, including situations in countries that are not parties to the Rome Statute.

Alvarez addressed the two instances where the Council has done so—the cases of Libya and the Sudan—which resulted in criminal indictments issued against the then-sitting presidents of both of those nations. He argued that while such referrals were within the legal rights of the Security Council, the conditions imposed by the Council in making these referrals to the Court and the Council's refusal to use its powers to encourage states to comply with the Court's subsequent indictments may undermine the rule of law. 

Read the full text of Alvarez’s remarks here.

Two upcoming events on the U.N. at NYU Law will also draw on Alvarez's expertise. On September 25, Alvarez moderates a conversation with the U.N. Office of Legal Affairs, entitled "What do U.N. Lawyers do?", and on October 4, Alvarez will moderate a debate on the U.N. Security Council.

Posted September 25, 2012