Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


14th UN Crime Congress special event: Equal Access to Justice for All

   9 March 2021

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Equal access to justice is fundamental to the rule of law.

And yet, far too often, the poor and the marginalized, women, children, persons with disabilities, migrants and minorities, are unable to seek redress, make their voices heard, or defend their rights in the criminal justice system.

COVID-19 restrictions are further perpetuating vicious cycles of exclusion and injustice.

The 14th UN Crime Congress provides a timely opportunity to explore measures for ensuring access to justice for all, and commit to their urgent implementation.

At this important event we will hear from justice sector officials and practitioners on how to help all members of society exercise their legal rights.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime is working with countries across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean, to adapt legislation and policies to enable equal access to justice.

Our Office builds capacity to help police and justice institutions, as well as providers of legal services, to empower those at risk of being left behind.

UNODC promotes inclusion through restorative justice, enhancing access to legal aid, police reform, support to victims of crime, and the application of standards to uphold the rights of prisoners.

We have also developed technical guidance for practitioners, including a recent joint publication with UNDP addressing COVID-era challenges.

I would like to thank our partners from within the UN and beyond for their cooperation with us, and for co-organizing today’s event.

UNODC looks forward to continuing and strengthening collaboration to promote equal access to justice for all.

On this note, I am pleased to inform you that our Office is currently finalizing a memorandum of understanding with the International Development Law Organization.

By joining forces to promote the rule of law, we can accelerate progress towards Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda, dismantle barriers to active participation in justice processes, and build accountable and inclusive institutions that uphold the rights and dignity of all.