Last weekend, 50 undergraduate students from ten Nigerian universities stayed up through Friday night for an entirely different reason: selected from over 400 applicants, they were planning, designing, and coding in the most recent UNODC-supported Hackathon for Justice, trying to come up with technological ways to make the world a safer place.
Following the success of its last hackathon, hosted by Silicon Valley's famed security firm Symantec, UNODC's Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration has again teamed up with Africa Teen Geeks and, for the first time, with the world's most popular social media platform, Facebook; together, they continued engaging with young people to develop technology-based solutions to global challenges, specifically those affecting the rule of law.
For at least three years, at the global level, crime prevention and criminal justice have been guided in their work by the Doha Declaration, a series of international principles adopted by UN Member States following the 13th Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, held precisely in Doha, the capital of Qatar (Asia), in April 2015. In order to implement the Doha Declaration, and with the economic support of the State of Qatar, UNODC launched a Global Programme to help States progress in crime prevention, improvement of criminal justice, measures against corruption and strengthening the rule of law. In this period, Marco Teixeira, head of the Global Programme, and Muriel Jourdan, Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer (at UNODC in Vienna) who works in rehabilitation, came to the country, making from a Bolivian initiative a model experience at the international level.
The assurance of dignity during imprisonment is mandatory, but may not be sufficient to avoid reoffending and another incarceration if, upon release, ex-convicts find themselves in the same circumstances that potentially contributed to their illegal activities in the first place. It is crucial to think ahead and to prepare prisoners for their reintegration into society.
UNODC's espousal of this psychology has taken it to prison facilities around the world, supporting Member States with a tried and tested method: strengthening prisoners' resolve by teaching them vocational skills which they can practice in work schemes during their sentence, and which can help them find work upon their release, contributes significantly to their dignity and self-reliance, their sense of belonging, and the diminished likelihood of their recidivism.
Promoting judicial integrity by supporting those who will themselves train judges and judicial staff in their respective countries, these UNODC resources are being rolled out in 40 pilot countries. This month, the fourth training of trainers was organized at UNODC headquarters in Vienna, gathering judges and judicial staff from some 20 countries, all aiming at organizing trainings in a near future and incorporating these unique resources. Marco Teixeira, Senior Programme Officer, welcomed the judges and launched the training by reminding them of the principal goals shared by all: "The Network's purpose is to collectively address existing and emerging challenges related to judicial integrity and to promote peer-learning and information exchange."
As a District Court Judge with a passion for judicial education, I recently discovered a new dimension of teaching, and with it a newfound confidence in myself. Although I had been conducting trainings of judges at the Punjab Judicial Academy in Lahore and the Federal Judicial Academy in Islamabad for several years, I had never attempted to train judges on judicial conduct and ethics. The mere idea of standing on a podium and lecturing them on ethics felt like a huge challenge.
My participation in a "Train-the-Trainer's Workshop," in UNODC headquarters in Vienna, under the auspices of the Global Judicial Integrity Network, changed my perspective and my disposition. The workshop introduced me to different training techniques and methodologies, allowing judicial trainers to handle various learning styles.