Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director


CCPCJ Side event: "Follow up to the Kyoto Declaration: Reducing reoffending by new UN standards and norms"

  18 May 2021


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to join you at this event to discuss actionable steps to reduce reoffending, in follow-up to the Kyoto Declaration adopted by the 14th Crime Congress in March.

Reducing reoffending is a fundamental function of criminal justice systems.

Our institutions must aim to deliver justice, but they must also strive to achieve positive, sustainable outcomes for communities, and to preserve human dignity.

Less reoffending means fewer victims, greater community safety and less pressure on the criminal justice system.

There has been growing momentum towards sustainable approaches that prioritize rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders.

Member States affirmed this in the Kyoto Declaration, in which they recognized the importance of rehabilitative environments in corrective facilities and in communities.

At the Kyoto Crime Congress, I also had the pleasure of addressing the World Congress for Community Volunteers, where members shared their experiences and recommendations for offender reintegration.

To effectively reduce reoffending, the criminal justice process must be guided by empathy and focused on results.

The institutions of justice must be fair and transparent, and they must respect the dignity of all, and ensure due process.

People in prisons must be treated humanely, and conditions in prisons must be adequate.

Offenders should be steered towards a future where they can lead productive and law-abiding lives. This includes effective rehabilitation and social integration programmes in prisons, as well as in the community after release, based on case-by-case assessments of needs and risks.

In appropriate cases, non-custodial measures should be given due consideration, as they can often provide a road to reintegration, rehabilitation, and redemption.

The government of Japan is playing an important role in building on the Kyoto Declaration and promoting rehabilitative approaches. This discussion today at the 30th Crime Commission is an opportunity to take this momentum forward.

The UN standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice have proven to be powerful tools for Member States in building effective policies.

At the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, we stand ready to assist the Crime Commission in further expanding the standards and norms to address reoffending.

UNODC is already engaged in supporting Member States to reduce reoffending through effective criminal justice policies.

Our Global Programme on Addressing Prison Challenges assists Member States in the use of alternatives to imprisonment, and the promotion of prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration.

Our Office has also implemented such initiatives as part of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration.

In Bolivia, Colombia, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan,  Tajikistan, Zambia, Indonesia, and Morocco, we have provided vocational training for prisoners in fields ranging from construction to baking, jewellery-making, and electrical installation. In El Salvador, we provided them with access to university education.

In Namibia, we worked with the World Food Programme to launch a hydroponic project with the participation of prisoners, helping them acquire valuable skills, while at the same time working to address water scarcity in their community.


We plan to scale up our skills-building rehabilitation projects in the next five years, including through projects to benefit over 1,500 female prisoners across several countries. 

UNODC also assists Member States in improving their implementation of the Nelson Mandela Rules for the treatment of prisoners, which emphasize reintegration into society.  

More than 35,000 prison officers from over 150 countries have enrolled in UNODC's scenario-based e-learning course on the Mandela Rules, which is certified and free of charge.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Reoffending is a challenge that faces all countries. The cycle of criminality and marginalization produces suffering and insecurity, and hampers sustainable development.

We are committed to working with you to break this cycle, and to build on the progress made in Kyoto through concrete action, to help offenders learn from their mistakes and to empower communities towards a better, more prosperous, and more inclusive future.

Thank you.