President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday it was a matter of grave concern to witness so many instances of the deliberate and arrogant violation of the fundamental principles of justice and the rule of law by some agencies within and outside the United Nations.
He expressed these views at the South Asian Judicial Roundtable on Environment Justice for sustainable Green Development held at the Central Bank’s John Exeter Conference Hall.
“There must be consistency and evenness in the application of international and national laws. This means there cannot be and must never be double standards in the application and interpretation of laws by Courts and international organisations. It is a matter of grave concern and much regret that we are witnessing today far too many instances of deliberate, even arrogant violation of this fundamental principle of justice and the rule of law by some agencies within and outside the United Nations. This situation can also be seen to impact on matters relating to the environment and sustainable development, especially in the areas of climate change and sustainable use of natural resources,” the President said. “The consequence of such unjust and unfair actions can only be the absolute negation of Justice and the Rule of Law and complete loss of faith and trust in the international system of justice. This has to be avoided in the interest of international peace, security and friendly relations among states. Your conference provides a timely opportunity to deliberate on these matters and set up a mechanism to establish generally acceptable rules to compel consistency and evenness in the application of international and national laws, and norms. Justice and the Rule of Law, demand no less.”
The conference organised by Asian Development Bank (ADB) was attended by the Chief Justices of the South Asian region. Among the participants were ADB Vice President Bruce L Davis, UNEP Environmental Law Director Elizabeth N Mrema and ADB Project Leader Irum Ahsan.
The President said protecting the environment for present and future generations was an obligation shared by all governments whether big or small, rich or poor and of equal importance of the obligation of governments especially in developing countries like Sri Lanka to enhance the quality and standards of living of the vast majority of our people.
“This is crucial for securing the stability and sustainability of social and political institutions throughout the world. This is now universally recognized and enshrined in the legal principle, common but differentiated responsibility” he said.
Chief Justice Mohan Peiris said environmental justice for sustainable development stressed the importance of environmental rule of law and regional cooperation.“We begin with ominous predictions. South Asia has ample resources but the changing climate has affected many aspects from population growth to economic development. Environmental prosecution and adjudication have been strengthening the symbiotic relationships between our countries” he said.The CJ highlighted the necessity for willingness to be bound to declarations on environmental protection and the need for something more concrete and of a larger application than just a Colombo Declaration.”(Sandun Jayasekera and Jehan Gunasekera)