The rule of law is emerging as one of the most pressing issues of this century. It is a cornerstone of peace, security, justice and development.
Human rights and the rule of law are not synonymous, but they do overlap and function symbiotically. In the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, they "represent universally applicable standards adopted under the auspices of the United Nations and must therefore serve as the normative basis for all United Nations activities in support of justice and the rule of law."
To summarize, the stronger human rights, the stronger the rule of law. Together, they form a framework for decision- and policy-making that is anchored by legality, accountability and participation. In this, they create a fertile ground for development and social transformation.
In Somalia, alternative justice mechanisms remain the main providers of justice services for lack of formal justice institutions. However, these justice mechanisms can be discriminatory particularly against women, youth and minority clans.
Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, has been devastated by armed conflict since September 2014. The conflict has received limited international coverage and human rights violations and violations under international humanitarian law suffered by the civilian population have been grossly underreported. All parties to the conflict have been linked to serious violations of international law, with inadequate accountability mechanisms in place to ensure justice for victims.
Strengthening prevention and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) through the rule of law and access to justice has been a priority for the Government of Myanmar since 2011, when it embarked on an unprecedented transition towards democracy. SGBV cases are rarely reported and, when they are, the justice sector fails to provide adequate remedies. Therefore, there is a widely recognized need to increase prevention of and accountability for SGBV.
Somalia is striving to strengthen its institutions and to improve the rule of law, however high levels of crime still persist. These include forms of complex crimes, namely extremist violence, organized crime, sexual and gender-based violence and corruption. In recent years, the Somali Federal Government has improved the fight against armed groups and made efforts to improve the capacity of the justice system to handle complex crimes.
One of the challenges in scaling up HIV-related legal services is the limited number of knowledgeable, skilled and committed lawyers to provide such services. Part of the solution therefore lies in building the capacity of law schools to ensure law graduates are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to support human rights-based approaches to HIV. Many universities, including in East Africa, offer clinical legal education programs to give students direct experience of providing legal information to clients.