A year later than originally planned, because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the 14th Crime Congress was held this week in Kyoto, Japan under strict health and safety standards, allowing for fruitful discussions between 5,600 participants, most of whom joined virtually through a dedicated platform. Held every five years, the Congress is the world's largest gathering focusing on crime prevention, criminal justice, and rule of law matters, issues on which Governments and institutions worldwide agree will necessitate ever stronger cooperation and partnerships. For the Doha Declaration Global Programme, the Congress was the occasion to showcase the positive results of an active promotion of rule of law around the world, having emerged from the 13th Crime Congress.
Sport-based learning has become a part of most educational systems around the world, but it is also increasingly recognized as an essential component of crime prevention, especially for at-risk youth. When sports activities are paired with life skills training, as they are in UNODC's Line Up, Live Up initiative, they become a unique tool to affect social change and development.
Line Up, Live Up is an innovative method, on both the physical and intellectual levels, to train youngsters to stay away from trouble while developing resilience. With this evidence-based curriculum that uses sports and life skills, UNODC has focused on engaging youth from marginalized and at-risk communities, promoting sports while inculcating and strengthening positive life skills and values which can help young people better navigate daily challenges in life. It contributes to improving young people's personal and social skills, to affecting their attitudes and beliefs with regards to violence, crime and drug use, and to enhancing their self-motivation, self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.
The independence, transparency and integrity of the judicial system is a fundamental factor of the rule of law, as is public confidence in the judiciary. In the rapidly changing global environment, numerous issues continue to present new challenges that are particularly sensitive for justice matters. These include gender issues, the rise of Artificial Intelligence, the concept of judicial immunity for judges, and the increasing use of social media by judges and judicial staff. On these matters and others, the Global Judicial Integrity Network has been supporting judiciaries around the world.
Launched in 2018 by UNODC, the Network has already left a large imprint on judiciaries, creating a space and a support system that continues to consolidate. A unique platform of judges, for judges, it aims at strengthening judicial integrity and preventing corruption within judiciaries. This is achieved through the networking opportunities, the facilitation of information sharing, and the response to existing and emerging challenges related to judicial integrity.
Increasingly the world over, the concept of rehabilitation is winning ground over that of punishment when dealing with prisoners. Penitentiaries around the globe are striving to effect change by providing inmates with opportunities during their sentence, so that they can more easily be reintegrated into society and become, once again, active and fulfilled members of their communities.
International standards include the Nelson Mandela Rules, of which UNODC is the guardian, stipulating that imprisonment should not be limited to the deprivation of liberty, but that it should be a time for the re-education of prisoners. Rehabilitation includes a number of venues, but for UNODC's Prisoner Rehabilitation initiative, resources and support have been developed in the three core areas of education, vocational training, and employment during prison years, with the goal of contributing to the prisoners' employability after release, and thus reducing chances of recidivism.
The need for gender equality and parity is a topic that has gained much exposure in the last years in the public and private sectors. For Education for Justice (E4J), these concepts must be engrained from very early on in a child's education, and they must be sustained throughout the years. In order to achieve positive results on this front, girls and boys must understand the importance of their respective roles in contributing to a fairer society.
Education in this context also importantly highlights how to prevent all forms of discrimination and violence related to gender, and it can strengthen crime prevention all over the world by planting the seeds of understanding from a young age. Education, and in particular E4J's resources, can also prepare the next generation to come of age as champions of gender equality, challenging discrimination and ending all forms of violence, by effecting changes in law, policy and practice.