In most countries of the world, detention and imprisonment are the main measures imposed on individuals who are suspected of having breached the criminal law or have indeed been convicted of a criminal offence. The overuse of prisons leads to a series of mutually reinforcing challenges in responding appropriately to the social reintegration needs of offenders, whilst also violating the rights of those who are innocent. Read more

Tools and Publications

In order to promote the practical application of the Nelson Mandela Rules, UNODC has produced a series of technical guidance tools and publications. Read more

Nelson Mandela Rules

UNODC acts as the custodian of the international standards and norms in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice, including those specifically designed for the management of prison facilities and the treatment of prisoners, in particular the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules). Read more


Supporting themanagement of violent extremist prisoners and the prevention of radicalisation to violence in prisons is a four year (2018-2021) a joint initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT), implemented in partnership with the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED). It is co-funded by the European Union, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the Netherlands. This initiative is implemented in three beneficiary countries - Kazakhstan, Tunisia and Uganda and responds to the emerging and significant

The priority areas include (i) security and safety, (ii) risks and needs assessment of prisoners, (iii) prison-based disengagement interventions, and (iv) post-release support and social reintegration. Read more


International standards highlight the importance of supporting measures to support the rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners into the community. Further to the adoption of the Doha Declaration at the conclusion of the 13th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, UNODC developed several guidance tools and supported Member States in developing a more rehabilitative approach to prison management. Benefits not only for the individuals concerned, but also for public safety more broadly. Read more