Had it not been for the COVID-19 global pandemic, UNODC's headquarters would have been swarming this past week with academics, educators, experts, and representatives from international organizations and multinational corporations for the largest conference ever held under United Nations auspices to discuss the crucial link between education and the rule of law.
Instead, over 2,100 participants from 109 countries gathered virtually, and safely, for the unprecedented Global Dialogue Series launched by UNODC's Education for Justice (E4J) initiative on 1 December, debating the forward-looking perspectives ensuing from the pandemic to reimagine education for peaceful, just, and inclusive societies.
Since its creation, the Education for Justice initiative has looked for innovative ways to support educators in their mission to arm the next generation with the right tools to tackle global challenges. With the COVID-19 pandemic leading to a potential increase in social unrest and violence, this support is more important than ever.
To meet this, E4J launched this month a new grants programme for universities around the world to support the ongoing tertiary education efforts in this field. The interest in this scheme is high: E4J received applications from universities in 69 countries, a number which demonstrates the interest of higher education in not only continuing to contribute to the goals of SDG16, but also to work with United Nations institutions.
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.
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.