Vienna (Austria), 22 September 2023
In 2015, when governments adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, the world made a promise in the form of SDG 16 of a more just, inclusive, and peaceful world.
They also acknowledged that strengthening the rule of law is essential for achieving SDG 16 – and thereby to preventing discrimination, preventing conflict, tackling the root causes of instability and violent extremism, and more. This recognition lies at the heart of the Kyoto Declaration, in which Member States agreed upon concrete actions to advance responses addressing crime prevention, criminal justice, the rule of law and international cooperation.
In the Political Declaration adopted earlier this week at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) under the auspices of the General Assembly, Member States reaffirmed “to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies that provide equal access to justice and that are based on respect for human rights (including the right to development), on effective rule of law and good governance at all levels and on transparent, effective and accountable institutions.”
Right after the adoption of this Declaration, from 21 to 22 September, the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice held its third Thematic Discussions on the implementation of the 2021 Kyoto Declaration, in Vienna and online on “Promoting the rule of law”. As Ms. Ghada Waly, Executive Director of UNODC, pointed out in her opening address (delivered by Mr. John Brandolino, Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs of UNODC), “across the globe, there remains an urgent need to dismantle systemic barriers to justice, to ensure that everyone is equal before the law, and to reduce pre-trial detention to the absolute minimum required. As the world now looks to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals and the promise of Agenda 2030, the commitments contained in the Kyoto declaration are more relevant than ever.”
As Ms. Nareeluc Pairchaiyapoom, Director of International Human Rights Division and Director of the Office of Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance, Rights and Liberties Protection Department from the Ministry of Justice of Thailand, highlighted: “Access to justice is a priority for governments. To enhance access to justice, it is vital to collaborate with communities, encourage peer to peer learning among justice actors and share information about good practices at national, regional and global levels – a constructive dialogue including all relevant stakeholders and sectors can create a positive momentum, which in turn leads to effective crime prevention and criminal reform.”
Ms. Erin McKey, General Counsel and Director of External Relations, Department of Justice, Canada, emphasized that “We know that data collection and research are essential to ensure that policy makers and decision makers have a better understanding of the legal needs of all the people the justice system is intended to serve.”
The intersessional meeting was chaired and moderated by the Chair of the CCPCJ at its thirty-second session, H.E. Mr. Mary Mugwanja of Kenya. The Thematic Discussions reached a global audience from more than 110 countries and organizations. The two days featured interventions and presentations by experts from Member States, members of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme Network, civil society, the Council of Europe, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Anti-Corruption Academy, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations Working Group of People of African Descent and the World Bank.
Thematic discussions on Pillar III: Promoting the rule of law will be held from 21 to 22 September 2023 (from 10am-1pm; 3-6pm - Vienna time).
Thematic session 1: Access to justice and equal treatment before the law; Access to legal aid; National sentencing policies (21 September 2023)
Thematic session 2: Effective, accountable, impartial and inclusive institutions; Effective anti-corruption efforts; Social, educational and other measures (22 September 2023)
Click here to access presentations and statements.
Click here for the programme of the session
The Recommendations of the ASEAN-Japan Special Youth Forum for Promoting the Rule of Law will be symbolically handed over to the Commission during the Opening Session of the Thematic Discussions on 21 September 2023.