24 October 2019 - Empowering the next generation to change the world is neither an easily definable mission nor a simple task, but it certainly is a prerequisite to achieving the ambitious Sustainable Development Agenda. While students at the tertiary level are often already aware of - and reasonably informed about - the challenges facing the global community and have ideas about what they want to do, many may feel they have not yet found the ideal avenue through which to pursue their professional aspirations.
Specialized agencies working in development can often play a guiding role at this stage, supplementing the educational institutions' teaching by offering a more in-depth perspective on various fields. In the case of UNODC's Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, whose mission to support SDG 16 entails the promotion of a culture of lawfulness, a seminar demonstrating how the rule of law can be strengthened through a variety of modern methods has been developed by its expert team.
It launched last week at the renowned Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, a historic institution from which many women and men have graduated to take up positions of leadership in various international careers, shaping the trajectory of the modern world. On a glorious fall weekend, some 50 students gathered to listen to and to engage with a dedicated Doha Programme team prepared to impart years of combined expertise on various aspects of rule of law, and how it applies to everyday life. From the importance of the SDGs and the work of UNODC, to the basic values and technical skills promoted through its four components, and even to the crucial place of public information and advocacy in this line of work, students got a bird's eye view on how the Programme's tools and projects have positively impacted lives on several continents.
"No society can prosper without peace, justice and strong and independent institutions," remarked Marco Teixeira, Senior Programme Officer. "This is why this seminar is about empowering students like these, the next generation of policymakers, diplomats and leaders, and inspiring them through our expertise and experience to embrace their part in making the world a safer and more just place."
The Programme's seminar is designed to communicate with students in an open and interactive manner, prompting them to reflect on and to consider solutions to the many factors which contribute to damaging a society's peace, while hearing UNODC experts explain the innovative tools and methods used by the Programme to combat crime and corruption, and to foster global citizens with a solid moral and ethical compass. It includes an explanation of how Education for Justice, Youth Crime Prevention through Sport, Prisoner Rehabilitation and Judicial Integrity each play a part in spreading lawfulness, and several practical examples on how a variety of dedicated courses, how-to manuals, video games, sports and life skills trainings - amongst other tools - can be used to the benefit of society.
"I really appreciated the attempt to tackle problems in an unconventional way," said one of the Diplomatic Academy students at the end of a packed day. Another commented on the realization that numerous parties needed to contribute to the tasks ahead, if the goals are to be met: "The global challenges are complex and need cooperation, not only on the level of international organizations but also on the level of the state and society."
The students' overwhelmingly positive feedback, and their high level of interaction throughout the day, is testament to this generation's thirst for knowledge and desire to be a part of something bigger. As one student put it, "more people need to know what UNODC does and why it's important." Following this successful launch, the Global Programme will be offering this seminar series to universities and other tertiary level institutions, to give students the benefit of UNODC's experience and demonstrate the Programme's efficiency in promoting a culture of lawfulness.
To encourage further engagement on this issue, students who took part in this first seminar have been invited to submit short essays on the concept and the possible applications of rule of law, with a chance for the best submission to be published on the Global Programme's website; future participants will be offered a chance to undergo a shadowing programme with some of the Programme's experts at UNODC's headquarters.
Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration