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Rome Symposium – World Openness Report

Statement by the Director-General, Ms Jan Beagle

Rome Symposium – World Openness Report
Rome, 20 April 2023


Distinguished Delegates,

It is a pleasure to be here today at the launch of the World Openness Report 2022.

I would like to thank the Hongqiao International Economic Forum Secretariat, the Italy China Council Foundation, and the Embassy of China for the kind invitation.

The World Openness Report reinforces the trends we have witnessed in the last few years.

COVID-19, deepening conflict, and climate change have generated intersecting economic, humanitarian, and political crises that are posing a challenge to peace and sustainable development.

Millions of people have died and millions more have been pushed into poverty and insecurity.

The most severe impact falls on those already living in conditions of vulnerability, exclusion, and fragility.

And at a time when we need solidarity and mutual support, many are choosing the path of narrow self-interest.

As the only international intergovernmental organization exclusively devoted to promoting the rule of law to advance peace and sustainable development, IDLO’s experience shows that the rule of law can help to support global recovery and cooperation.

Allow me to offer three ways in which it can do so.

First, the rule of law, as embodied in Sustainable Development Goal 16, is vital to the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

SDG 16’s three pillars –peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice, and effective, accountable institutions – serve as a crucial foundation for the entire 2030 Agenda.

Many SDGs implicitly draw on the principles of inclusivity, equity and non-discrimination, and require the creation of new regulatory and legal frameworks and institutional capacity for their implementation.

For instance, effective laws and institutions are key to promoting inclusive economic development.

The rule of law can encourage growth by providing stability and certainty and resolving disputes fairly and expeditiously.

The development of sound policy and regulatory frameworks, grounded in the rule of law, can help to increase access to justice, eliminate discriminatory laws and practices, reduce corruption, and enhance transparency. In so doing, the rule of law creates an enabling environment for sustainable investment and trade.

IDLO partners with countries around the world to promote increased legal capacity on economic and commercial law related to insolvency, commercial arbitration and mediation and contract issues.

We support governments to harness the rule of law to create a conducive business environment for trade and investment.

In Kenya, for example, IDLO supported efforts to reform the commercial justice sector by ensuring quick, transparent, and predictable dispute resolution.

We facilitated the processing and handling of cases of the Commercial and Tax Division of the High Court by digitalizing its operations.

IDLO has also been promoting commercial mediation as a tool for effective dispute resolution in Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Montenegro, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

By placing the rule of law at the heart of policy-making efforts, recipient states will be able to direct investments to the sectors where they are needed the most: from digital infrastructure to modern, sustainable energy services, circular economy, and climate mitigation.

In 2019, IDLO launched its Investment Support Programme for Least Developed Countries.

So far, we have assisted 10 States in the negotiation of complex investment contracts, the design of investment-related legal frameworks, and the resolution of investment disputes.

In The Gambia, for instance, the programme supported the development of a next-generation model bilateral investment treaty. It provides a more equal sharing of rights and obligations by incorporating obligations on labour and human rights, anti-corruption, and corporate social responsibility.

IDLO is pleased that the Doha Programme of Action for the LDCs includes a commitment to further strengthen this capacity building public-private partnership.

We encourage LDCs to make full use of its facilities. and development partners to continue to support this initiative.

Secondly, the rule of law is key to rebuilding trust.

We are witnessing a crisis of confidence in public institutions of unprecedented proportions.

COVID-19 has further eroded already low levels of public trust, creating a social and political crisis alongside a health and economic one.

The rule of law is crucial to restoring this trust between citizens and the state.

By empowering justice seekers and promoting participatory governance, the rule of law leads to more open and equitable decisions are made.

By ensuring strong, transparent, and people-centred institutions, it helps ensure that services and opportunity are distributed in a way that is fair and non-discriminatory.

It means that much needed resources do not end up diverted for private gain instead of being used for the public good.

For instance, the full and equal participation of women and girls in public life is essential but, according to the World Bank, 2.4 billion women still do not have the same legal rights as men.

One recent estimate put the annual output losses associated with current levels of gender discrimination at up to US$12 trillion, or 16 percent of global GDP.

DLO has worked in partnership with UN Women and governments in many countries, to undertake comprehensive reviews to identify and repeal gender discriminatory laws.

Eliminating discriminatory laws and practices is not only a legal and moral imperative, but it can also help unlock game-changing development gains.

My third and final point is that rule of law can help address the complex and transnational challenges that traditional instruments of statecraft are ill-equipped to handle.

The last years have shown that our most urgent problems – from pandemics to climate change- do not stop at borders and are too big and too complex for any of us to solve alone.

We need to innovate and build laws and institutions that will allow countries to cooperate fairly and equitably to address these challenges.

Putting people at the centre of this effort will be essential.

The rule of law can be a catalyst for accelerated climate action and supporting the transition to a greener more climate resilient development model.

Since I addressed this issue at the Fourth Hongqiao International Economic Forum in 2021, IDLO has continued to advocate for climate resilient development and, indeed, climate justice.

Delivering climate commitments at the national level requires new laws and strengthened institutional capacity.

People and communities need to be empowered to claim their land and environmental rights and participate in climate decision making.

Rule of law will also be important in promoting fair and effective mechanisms to address the international dimensions of climate change, for example, the administration of loss and damage funds.

I want to conclude by reemphasizing the importance of cooperation and partnerships.

We must acknowledge that we are in this together.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its commitment to shared partnerships, already shows us the way ahead, providing a set of common, universal objectives for more resilient societies.

IDLO stands ready to play its part by emphasising the importance of fostering inclusive growth, accountable institutions, public-private partnerships, good governance, and the full participation of women and girls.

We are committed to support multilateral approaches and the broadest possible partnerships with states, the UN system and other international organizations, civil society, the private sector, youth, and academia, to ensure that the needs and perspectives of all are incorporated into the global development agenda.

Today’s symposium provides an opportunity to share expertise and best practices that can foster multidimensional “openness”- among peoples, cultures, and economies – in a spirit of multilateralism.

Working together, I am sure we can build a more open, just, and sustainable world, grounded in the rule of law.