Organisation Internationale de Droit du Développement

4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Statement by the Director-General, Ms Jan Beagle

General Debate
28 May 2024
Distinguished delegates,

It is a pleasure to address you on behalf of the International Development Law Organization, which for over forty years has championed the primacy of the rule of law as a catalyst for fostering peace and sustainable development.

Our world today looks very different than it did ten years ago when this conference last convened in Samoa. While the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has given us shared hope and a pathway to a more prosperous future, we have also experienced a tragic storm of intersecting crises:

From a global pandemic to climate change and economic recession, these generational threats have been felt across the world – but they have been felt with disproportionate force for Small Island Developing States.

As we look ahead to the next ten-years, the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS provides an opportunity to reinvigorate sustainable development efforts.

We welcome in this regard, ABAS’ reaffirmation of the importance of the rule of law and access to justice as a fundamental catalyst for peaceful, prosperous and inclusive societies, and the emphasis it places on building strong institutions, as well as gender equality.

For IDLO, we believe issues of justice, fairness and equity are inextricably linked to the causes and effects of the multilayer intersecting crises that the Small Island States are facing.

IDLO would like to share three ways, in this regard, in which strengthening the rule of law and advancing SDG16 of the 2030 Agenda can help us achieve common goals in the ABAS programme of action.

First, strengthening the rule of law can create a foundation for climate-resilient development.

Fair and effective laws, along with accountable and people-centred institutions foster the trust necessary to mobilise climate finance, and address loss and damage equitably. Improved access to justice and empowered communities promote inclusive climate decision-making and help build a society resilient to external shocks and stresses.

Second, the rule of law can be a powerful enabler of women’s empowerment across Small Island Developing States. However, hard-fought gains on gender equality worldwide have been lost and the justice gap for women and girls continues to widen.

Eliminating gender-discriminatory law and supporting the adoption of gender transformative legal frameworks that inter alia combat gender-based violence and economic exclusion can facilitate the participation and leadership of women in public life. There can be no peaceful and prosperous societies without equality for women and girls.

And third, progress on SDG16 can promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Strengthening governance, enhancing regulatory frameworks in key economic areas, and promoting transparency can attract foreign direct investment, economically empower historically marginalized groups, and lift people out of poverty.

If we increase access to justice we can drive economic growth - we can lower levels of public corruption, we can improve protection of property rights, and shrink the shadow economy – freeing up critical resources that can be reinvested in sustainable development efforts.

Put simply, accelerating action on SDG16 by strengthening the rule of law can bolster the economy, it can rebuild trust in our institutions and empower the marginalised.

IDLO stands ready to support you in this regard.