This teaching guide is a resource for lecturers
For the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a holistic, multidimensional framework that recognizes security, justice, the rule of law, and health as fundamental to achieving sustainable development for all. A very important feature of the 2030 Agenda is the explicit recognition that “there can be no peace without sustainable development and no sustainable development without peace.” This notion is enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16), which affirms the importance of building peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Realizing SDG 16 requires: ensuring access to justice for all; the provision of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels; reducing violence; the provision of legal identity; tackling corruption and organized crime; ensuring access to information; and protecting fundamental freedoms.
UNODC plays a key role in this work, by providing normative, analytical, and operational assistance to UN Member States to strengthen the effectiveness, fairness, transparency and accountability of criminal justice institutions - guided by the United Nations standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice.
UNODC’s integrated approach to strengthening justice systems recognizes that SDG 16 is a key driver for progress and an enabling tool for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in its entirety. Adherence to the human rights inspired values and principles of SDG 16 furthers the achievement of other goals, such as those on gender equality, the reduction of other growing inequalities, and the promotion of safe communities.
The success of the 2030 Agenda’s SDGs depends on ensuring that a broad range of actors and stakeholders fully understand the goals and recognize the actions necessary to achieve their effective implementation globally. In other words - education is at the heart of the sustainable development agenda. Effectively monitoring global progress with regards to SDG targets and, indeed, achieving the SDGs, will only be realized through the generation and sharing of knowledge and expertise. Education for Justice is a new and exciting dimension of UNODC’s work on knowledge development and outreach with respect to the 2030 Agenda.
Education for Justice (E4J) initiative
In 2016, UNODC embarked on an ambitious global education project to promote the rule of law and a culture of lawfulness through primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of education. The Education for Justice (E4J) initiative is a component of UNODC’s Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration. The Doha Declaration was adopted by the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in 2015 and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution 70/174 (A/RES/70/174).
E4J recognizes the fundamental importance of universal education for children and youth as key to the prevention of crime, terrorism, and corruption, as well as to promote sustainable development. This work involves the development of innovative teaching resources to help educators teach the next generation to better understand the problems that can undermine the rule of law.
Curriculum development is a time-consuming task for educators. At the university level, E4J provides support to academics in their teaching and research activities related to UNODC mandate areas, including crime prevention and criminal justice, anti-corruption, organized crime, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, firearms, cybercrime, wildlife crime, counter-terrorism as well as integrity and ethics. The E4J tertiary website offers a central platform for academics to access educational materials on each of these thematic areas.
Specifically, the E4J University Module Series on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice brings together scholarly and pedagogical resources from around the world to advance global knowledge in this field and assist academics in preparing for and delivering quality and engaging content for university students. Designed in consultation with educational specialists, these teaching tools are designed to promote global understanding about the importance of the rule of law, human rights, and the values enshrined in the SDGs. Illustrating the ambitious scope of the E4J initiative these educational materials are designed to not only promote understanding about rights-based values, but also to empower students, and equip them with the practical skills and competencies that they will need to drive forward the 2030 Agenda locally, regionally, and globally.
The E4J University Modules on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice are based on the United Nations standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice: the internationally agreed standards and minimum safeguards applicable in the field of criminal justice – to uphold fundamental values of human dignity and worth for victims, witnesses and persons alleged as, accused of or recognized as having infringed the penal law. These Modules were designed to provide guidance and educational resources to academics to facilitate their delivery of quality education to students on topics related to justice and the rule of law.
The E4J Module Series on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice covers many aspects of this complex and interdisciplinary field, combining theoretical and practical knowledge. The Modules provide the resources required for a well-rounded education relevant to this thematic area, including the human rights legal framework and international standards and norms, as well as principles of accountability, transparency, and ethical conduct. The broad-based content provided in the Modules can be complemented by lecturers, who may choose to incorporate additional readings, examples, national case law, and legislation to equip students with applied skills that are relevant to the regional, national and local context.
The most immediate audience for the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Modules are academics teaching in programmes that focus on crime prevention and criminal justice, such as criminology, criminal justice, law, and security, as well as academic programmes that offer one or more crime prevention and criminal justice courses. However, this is not the only target audience for these Modules. The Modules, which are interdisciplinary, are also intended for a much broader audience, including academics in the fields of psychology, sociology, gender studies, political science, international relations, history, philosophy, economics, and public policy and administration (to name a few).
The literature and research of various disciplines continues to inform the development of crime prevention law, policy, and practice at the local, national, regional, and global levels. For example, the field of economics helps us understand the causes and effects of criminal activity, and the consequences of criminal justice policies. Additionally, because the conditions that give rise to crime are linked to a range of structural and socioeconomic factors, academics, students, and professionals need to integrate knowledge from a range of academic disciplines to find effective solutions to crime and criminal justice challenges. Moreover, there are also practical benefits for ensuring that gender scholars/students are informed about the various forms of gender-based discrimination that arise in criminal justice settings. Bringing these disciplines together can provide a deeper understanding of how gender dynamics and biases influence criminal justice law, policy, and practice. Academics interested in this topic may wish to consult Module 9: Gender in the Criminal Justice System.
Furthermore, meaningful interdisciplinary exchange between psychology, criminology, and criminal justice scholars has the potential to generate improved understandings, and enhanced law, policy, and procedure, which recognizes that individuals in conflict with the law are often socially marginalized members of society. Many such persons have existing mental health issues, the symptoms of which are likely to be exacerbated by contact with the criminal justice system. By focusing on global crime prevention and criminal justice institutions, policies, and practices, and their implications for several different fields, these Modules thus serve as a useful resource for academics and undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students in these areas. What is more, this multidisciplinary approach in education prepares students for employment in a broad variety of settings.
Next: Overview of modules
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