THE SIXTH COMMITTEE OF THE 68TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AGENDA ITEM 85: RULE OF LAW AT THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEVEL
Delivered by Judit Arenas, Deputy Permanent Observer
Check against delivery
The International Development Law Organization extends its congratulations to you and the other members of the Bureau upon your election and wishes to reiterate its commitment and support to the work of the Sixth Committee.
Let me at the outset, thank you and, through you, the Committee, for the opportunity to intervene, as we have done in the past several years, in your consideration of the agenda item on the rule of law at the national and international levels. As the only inter-governmental organization exclusively devoted to advancing the rule of law, we greatly appreciate the opportunity to share our views and experience in this debate.
Global trends further reinforce the role of the rule of law as a fundamental building block for peace, security, human rights and development, and as a critical contributor to international and national efforts to build a safer, fairer world.
Last year’s landmark “Declaration on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels” [A/67/L.1] strongly affirmed the centrality of the rule of law in addressing the many complex political, social, economic and environmental challenges of our times.
In her address at last year’s High Level Meeting on the Rule of Law, that is recalled in paragraph 2 of the Secretary-General's report before the Committee this year (A/68/213), the Director General of IDLO spoke of a “global crisis of the rule of law”. She referred to a “dangerous deficit of public trust in institutions” and a “deep disconnect between the formal mechanisms of the rule of law and people's lived experience of justice and equity” and stressed the importance of a renewed commitment to the rule of law by Member States. The Declaration adopted by the High Level Meeting, the intergovernmental debates that have followed and indeed the current debate, testify to a continuous strengthening of such commitment.
As it works to create a true “culture of justice”, IDLO remains committed to tackling the enormous challenge of restoring people's confidence in justice systems.
At the High-level Meeting last year, IDLO pledged to identify and analyze the barriers women face in the justice sector as legal professionals, and more broadly in accessing justice.
By drawing attention to the challenges faced by women in the justice sector, IDLO wishes to encourage national governments and the international community to direct more resources and energies towards addressing the unique needs and challenges faced by women in the justice system and to ensure that women enjoy democratic freedoms and equality of opportunity as an integral part of their human rights. IDLO is working actively to fulfill its pledge and we look forward to reporting on the results of our pledge.
IDLO is also honored to report that we are currently implementing our new strategic plan and that, in so doing, we are closely following the policy orientations articulated by the UN General Assembly to advance the rule of law.
IDLO is equally committed to contribute to the current discussions on integrating the rule of law into the post 2015 Development Agenda, in line with the policy guidance set out in the Declaration adopted by the High Level Meeting.
Mr. Chairman, inequality is a major factor behind the uneven and inadequate progress in meeting the MDGs. The human cost is huge: pregnant women who cannot access life-saving health care, children who drop out of school, people who are condemned to live in dire poverty even in countries that have made remarkable economic progress. Inequality raises basic moral and social issues. It also carries a political price. Grossly unequal societies are often unstable societies. Gross disparities are morally reprehensible, legally untenable and politically, economically and socially dangerous.
We in IDLO strongly believe that the post-2015 Development Agenda must, as strongly advocated also by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, give priority and prominence to the reduction of inequality, as a value and objective in its own right as well as a major cross-cutting concern. Fighting disparity and discrimination is fundamental to eradicating poverty, ending hunger and promoting an inclusive and sustainable framework for development. In practice, this implies translating equality and non-discrimination into good laws, policies and regulations, and enhancing people's participation in decision-making processes that directly affect their lives and livelihoods. The new development framework must be based on a clear commitment to human rights and the rule of law.
We cannot fight poverty and promote sustainable development and inclusive economies when justice and accountability systems do not properly function; when the law itself discriminates against women and minorities; when opportunities are only open to a few based on wealth and privilege; and when corruption and bribery distort access to justice and basic services.
Mr. Chairman, without respect for the rule of law and human rights, we will fail to make development work equally for everyone. If we fail to prioritize those who are the most vulnerable, the most marginalized and most in need, development will not be sustained.
We have noted with great interest the intention of the President of the General Assembly to focus on these issues in the months ahead. Meanwhile, IDLO has endeavored to seize the important opportunities that the high level events held in the Assembly in the past several days have offered to project the rule of law as a key factor in sustaining human security and development.
- We spoke about the importance of inclusive development for all at the High Level Meeting on Disability and Development;
- We illustrated how the inclusion of the rule of law in the post-2015 development agenda can fill some of the gaps of the Millennium Development Goals at the General Assembly’s Special Event in 2013 to Follow-up Efforts Made Towards Achieving the Millennium development Goals;
- We gave concrete examples of how the rule of law can work on the ground to improve the lives of real people at the UNDP organized Global Dialogue on the Rule of Law and Post-2015 Development Agenda; and
- We highlighted the role of the rule of law and human rights in providing fair development outcomes for migrants at the High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development.
More generally, we have continued to deploy our advocacy and convening capacity to support the UN in following-up on the Declaration on the Rule of Law and build consensus on the intrinsic and instrumental value of the rule of law at national and international levels. In programmatic terms, we have:
- Continued to contribute to strengthening the rule of law, human rights and good governance in developing countries, those in transition and crisis, as well as those emerging from conflict; and
- Offered legal expertise, resources and professional support to governments, multilateral partners and civil society organizations.
- Our work covers most of the areas in which the UN is engaged, as outlined in Chapter III on "United Nations approach to the rule of law at the national level” of the Secretary-General’s report. Let me offer some examples using the structure of the Secretary-General’s report.
One of IDLO’s priorities is to work with government institutions to establish legislative and constitutional frameworks based on locally defined parameters and respectful of legal pluralism, but aligned to international standards and enriched by regional and global best practices. IDLO also supports transition processes by strengthening ministries and justice sector institutions to implement constitutional and legal reform. An integral part of our approach is to encourage and facilitate participatory processes and multi-stakeholder consultations to support the constitution making process.
IDLO has a long tradition of supporting new, more effective ways of developing capacity, promoting the integrity and independence of the judiciary and establishing systems for transparent, timely and competent decision-making. We actively promote strategies for successful transition to local partners and strive to ensure sustainability.
Access to justice and informal justice systems
Formal legal systems are neither affordable nor always accessible to those who are poor and marginalized. Those who form "the bottom of the pyramid" often struggle to access basic legal services and safeguard their rights, interests and assets. Innovative legal solutions are needed to meet the requirement of these actors in the informal economy and help support more sustainable livelihoods. By combining our core-competency of institution-building, our understanding of informal legal systems, our knowledge of legal empowerment and working with partners and stakeholders, we have worked to develop strategies to expand legal services and cost-effective dispute resolution mechanisms for the empowerment of poor and marginalized communities and vulnerable groups, including women.
Global challenges such as climate change, resource scarcity and financial crises are threatening to set back decades of socio-economic progress. Legal and institutional reform can make an important contribution to tackling these problems, but developing countries often lack the capacity and know-how to use the law to promote sustainable development, or to access the benefits of trade, intellectual property, technology or the green economy equitably. There is growing demand for technical legal support in all of these areas that IDLO seeks to respond to, often in cooperation with specialized organizations in each of these sectors.
* * * * *
Mr. Chairman, this debate provides further confirmation of the growing demand for rule of law assistance from a wide range of countries across the spectrum, including middle-income countries, for constitutional and legal reform and judicial capacity building to support trade, investment and sustainable development. There is no doubt however that, not only for us as IDLO, but across the board of the international system, the level of resources available in the rule of law area does not match demand.
We are nevertheless pleased to let the Committee know of progress within IDLO in this respect. We have significantly increased our program portfolio to 56 projects around the world. Also a generous multi-year grant of flexible funding from the Netherlands has enabled us to carry forward some internal reforms and to open a Branch Office in The Hague in late 2013 that will provide additional capacity for our work to further the rule of law around the world. We would also like to thank the United States as President of IDLO, Italy, as our host country and Kuwait as Vice-President, for their strong, continued support.
IDLO is guided by and seeks to contribute to the new arrangements for enhanced coordination as outlined in chapter IV of the Secretary General’s report. We are pleased to continue our longstanding interactions with UN DESA, UN Women, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNDP's Bureau of Development Policy, and are now pursuing consultations with UNDP's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery to explore new possibilities of cooperation at both the global and the field level.
We welcome the strengthened arrangements launched by the UN for joint engagement at the country level and look forward to contributing to their goal of enhancing the coherence and impact of international cooperation particularly for countries emerging from conflict.
With regard to the Rule of Law Unit, we greatly appreciate the spirit of openness and dialogue that characterizes its work and have sought to contribute actively to the extensive process of consultations it has launched in the follow up to the High Level Meeting on the Rule of Law. We also look forward to playing our part in the expanded partnerships and strategic dialogue that the Secretary-General intends to pursue, in support of the essential work of the UN Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group.
IDLO knows from its work around the world that the rule of law can play a crucial role in closing the gap between the promise of development and the reality of deprivation and discrimination. Good laws and regulations, fairly administered by responsive and accountable institutions, can transform societies, especially when such measures are accompanied by the legal empowerment of citizens and full participation of civil society.
Bringing the law closer to people is key to promoting sustainable and inclusive development. Furthering a culture of justice, based on the rule of law, is essential for a safer, fairer world.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.