Mission of Sir Leslie Munro to Pakistan

The newly-appointed Secretary-General of the ICJ, Sir Leslie Munro, will be visiting Karachi in mid-January in connection with a three-month mission to the Far East.

Sir Leslie expects to visit Dacca in East Pakistan in early February. The purpose of the mission is to study legal developments in some fifteen countries of the Far East and to meet with members of the legal community and governmental officials. Sir Leslie, who is a former President of the United Nations General Assembly, was appointed Secretary-General of the Commission on July 1, 1961.

The International Commission of Jurists is a non-governmental and non-political organization which has Consultative Status, Category “B”, with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It draws its support from some 39,000 lawyers, judges and teachers of law in over sixty countries of the world. Its main objective is – through practical action – to clarify, promote and defend the Rule of Law, to strengthen the legal procedures and institutions associated therewith in those countries where the Rule of Law is already established and to obtain its acceptance wherever it is denied. Sir Leslie’s mission will include visits to East and West Pakistan, India, Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Malaya, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Viet-Nam, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Japan and Hong Kong. Sir Leslie will be accompanied by Lady Munro.

Sir Leslie Knox Munro was born in Auckland on February 26, 1901, and was educated at the Auckland Grammar School, where he was head prefect and prominent both as scholar and athlete, He won a University Entrance Scholarship and graduated as a Master of Laws from Auckland University College with First Class Honours in the Law of Contract and Roman Law.

From 1924 Sir Leslie practised law on his own account, and, in addition, lectured at Auckland University College in Jurisprudence, Roman Law and Constitutional Law and History. He continued lecturing until 1938, in which year he acted as Dean of the Faculty of Law. For a year he was also reporter for the New Zealand Law Reports.

From 1936 to 1938 he was President of the Auckland Law Society, being the youngest practitioner to have held this office, and from 1936 to 1939 he was a member of the Council of the New Zealand Law Society.

For three years before the beginning of the Second World War he gave a talk twice weekly on international affairs over the New Zealand National Broadcasting Service and from September 1939 to November 1951 (except when he was abroad) he contributed a weekly article on world affairs to The Weekly News.

In 1941 Sir Leslie accepted the post of Associate Editor of The New Zealand Herald, a leading daily newspaper published in Auckland. In August 1942 he became Editor, which post he retained until December 1951.

During this period he was a member of the Council of Auckland University College, of the Senate of the University of New Zealand and of the Auckland Grammar School Board (of which he later became chairman). This Board, whose jurisdiction in secondary education is the most extensive in New Zealand, controls five large high schools for boys and girls.

In 1946 Sir Leslie was selected as one of the delegates from New Zealand to the Imperial Press Conference. He travelled through England and Scotland and was the guest of the British War Office on a tour of battlefields from Normandy to Berlin. He was later a guest of the French Government.

In 1951 he spent four months in the United States as the guest of the State Department under the terms of the Smith-Mundt Act. During this visit he met leading personalities in both government and law, and travelled extensively. He made a particular study of American politics, foreign policy and university education.

Sir Leslie was designated New Zealand Ambassador to the United States of America on December 2, 1951, and presented his credentials to President Truman on February 26, 1952. At the same time he was appointed Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations.

As well as being Permanent Representative, Sir Leslie has been New Zealand Representative on the Trusteeship Council, and (during the years 1954 to 1955) on the Security Council. In June 1953, he was elected President of the Trusteeship Council for one year, and in the course of the normal rotation of the office he three times served as President of the Security Council. He was a Delegate to the Seventh, Eighth, Tenth and Eleventh Sessions of the General Assembly and Chairman of the New Zealand Delegation to the Ninth Session. At the Tenth Session Sir Leslie was elected Chairman of the First (Political) Committee of the Assembly.

Sir Leslie was elected President of the Twelfth Regular Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 17, 1957, and presided over the 3rd Emergency Session in August 1958.

In the New Year Honours List of 1955 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (K.C.M.G.) and on October 20, 1957, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II conferred on Sir Leslie the additional honour of Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (K.C.V.O.).

During 1958 the following Universities conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on Sir Leslie: Bradley, Colgate, Harvard, Michigan and Syracuse.

Sir Leslie relinquished his appointments as Ambassador to the United States and Permanent Representative to the United Nations on September 16, 1958.

On December 12, 1958, the General Assembly of the United Nations appointed Sir Leslie “to represent the United Nations for the purpose of reporting to member States or to the General Assembly on significant developments relating to the implementation of the resolution of the General Assembly on Hungary”.

On December 9, 1959, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution which stated that the General Assembly, “having considered the report of the United Nations Representative on Hungary, Sir Leslie Munro … requests the United Nations Representative on Hungary to continue his efforts.”

Sir Leslie has written a book entitled “United Nations: Hope for a Divided World”, published by Henry Holt & Company Inc. on January 18, 1960.

Sir Leslie and Lady Munro have two married daughters.

The International Commission of Jurists is an organization dedicated to the support and advancement throughout the world of the Rule of Law. The Commission’s work focuses on the recognition and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the classical sense, but holds that the formal observance of the rights of the individual is not enough. The Commission feels that the Rule of Law is a dynamic concept which should be employed not only to safeguard and advance the civil and political rights of the individual in a free society but also to promote social, economic and cultural conditions under which his legitimate aspirations may be realized.

The Commission also holds that equal justice cannot find its full expression except in a community protected by firmly established legal institutions, impartial judges and independent lawyers who are conscious of their responsibility towards society. In order to implement this principle, the Commission carries out its activities on two main levels:

(1) Promoting and strengthening the Rule of Law in all its practical manifestations – institutions, legislation, procedures, etc.;

(2) Defence of the Rule of Law through the mobilization of world legal opinion in cases of general and systematic violation of, or serious threat to, such principles of justice.

The Commission believes the rights of the individual are everywhere equally precious and nowhere invulnerable, and that therefore the vigilance of the lawyer must extend to all parts of the world. This concern for the defence of the principles of the Rule of Law has led the Commission to take appropriate action on such violations of human rights as the suppression of the 1956 revolution in Hungary and the systematic injustice that followed, the racial discrimination in South Africa, the Chinese oppression in Tibet, the political trials in Iraq, the want of civil rights in Spain and Portugal, the maladministration of justice in Cuba.

In January 1959, the Commission held in New Delhi, India, a world congress which was attended by over 185 judges, lawyers and teachers of law from fifty-three countries which undertook to formulate a clear statement of what the Rule of Law actually means in terms of working institutions, laws and procedures. The Rule of Law emerged from the deliberations as a concept based on the conviction that the State exists in order to serve man, that an independent Judiciary and Bar are the effective machinery for the protection of the rights and liberties of the individual, and that the establishment of proper social, economic and cultural conditions is a prerequisite of the full enjoyment of individual freedoms and human rights. The majority of persons attending the New Delhi Congress was from Asia and Africa.

In January 1961, the Commission organized an African Conference on the Rule of Law in Lagos, Nigeria, where 194 jurists from twenty-three African and nine other countries met to discuss several topics relating to the administration of justice and fundamental human rights in the new states of Africa. The Congress was financed by the Commission, the Ford Foundation and by a grant from the Nigerian Government.

In 1960 the International Commission of Jurists issued a detailed report entitled South Africa and the Rule of Law, which condemned apartheid in South Africa. The Commission’s Legal Inquiry Committee on Tibet condemned the Chinese violations of human rights in Tibet in its report Tibet and the Chinese People’s Republic.

In 1961, observers of the Commission attended the trials of the Turkish politicians at Yassiada, of the leaders of the abortive Ethiopian coup in Addis Ababa, of the nine Spanish intellectuals in Madrid and of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem.

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