Young people are particularly vulnerable to the disruptions the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, with many at risk of being left behind in education, economic opportunities, and health and wellbeing during a crucial stage of their life development. Over one billion children and youth, or 60 per cent of all enrolled learners, are affected by school closures, and poverty and unemployment rates due to COVID-19 have increased dramatically.
Many of these hardships are also known risk factors associated with crime, violence, and drug use, and may expose youth to increased victimization and involvement with crime during and after the pandemic.
The United Nations has since long recognized a wide array of basic human rights which apply to all humanity; amongst these are the right to be free from discrimination and the right to express cultural identity in all its facets. In 2007, to further address the specific needs of some communities, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, establishing a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of indigenous peoples of the world.
While much still remains to be done in this context, increased activism about the need to formalize indigenous rights has led a number of countries to an official recognition of different ethnicities within their populations, with their own linguistic and cultural differences.
As the world watched in dismay at the distressing consequences of COVID-19, what held us together in Malaysia is the belief that nothing is insurmountable. Thus, with characteristic stoicism, the Malaysian Judiciary put several measures in place, for it is inconceivable that the administration and accessibility to justice should come to a grinding halt.
Even if the courts are not listed as 'essential services' under the relevant regulation, the enabling provision of the Prevention of Infectious Diseases Act (1988) allowed certain protective measures to be put in place to ensure that COVID-19 is curbed and confined. As such, comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures for the courts were formulated, incorporating both the form and substance of court administration.
Not a day passes without stories of organized crime making their way to the front pages of newspapers around the world. Despite copious legislation and strong law enforcement measures in most countries, criminal groups find ways to operate outside the rule of law across borders, causing immense physical, psychological, and financial damage to their victims.
Governments have since long joined efforts in combatting organized crime even as it continues to become more emboldened. With the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), signed in Palermo, Italy in 2000, they devised an international instrument enabling their collective fight against transnational organized crime.
This side event celebrates the 20 th anniversary of the signing of the UNTOC and builds on that legacy by showcasing how education, particularly through lifelong learning opportunities, can empower youth and adults to address transnational organized crime.
Examples of good practices for the conceptualization, design and dissemination of educational tools on transnational organized crime at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels will be presented, igniting fruitful discussions and exchanges of views on the importance of quality education to promote and uphold the rule of law, with a particular focus on organized crime.