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Strategic Planning, real Partnership, national ownership needed to improve
rule of law assistance, says Deputy Secretary-General in New york remarks
Following are Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s opening remarks at the conference on Enhancing Global Rule of Law Assistance, in New York, 20 April:
I am delighted to welcome you to the United Nations for this conference on Enhancing Global Rule of Law Assistance. Let me thank all of you for being here, especially those who travelled long distances to join us. I would also like to express my appreciation to the United Kingdom for organizing this conference with us.
Respect for the rule of law is fundamental to peace, human rights, economic progress and development. Therefore, the principle that everyone is accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, is fundamental to the work of the United Nations. This applies to the individual, as well as the State.
A significant number of United Nations entities carry out activities promoting the rule of law. However, the Organization is only one among many. We are joined in this work by international, governmental and non-governmental actors.
Such a crowded field can lead to a lack of strategic planning and coherence, duplication and wasted resources. Often, assistance is piecemeal and donor-driven. Often, justice and security institutions are developed in ways that contradict each other instead of reinforcing each other. Often, we see short-term, superficial gains at the cost of longer-term, sustainable reform.
Consider what has happened in the case of one State with a population of about 10 million and fewer than 500 judges. It has been the subject of more than 50 assessment reports on various aspects of its justice system, sponsored by 22 different donors.
Efforts to strengthen the legal framework, police, prisons and judicial systems were modelled on those donors’ own approaches rather than the country’s specific needs. Sadly but not surprisingly, many years of assistance have failed to produce significant improvement in the justice system.
We can and must do better. The solution lies in strategic rule of law planning, real partnership with recipient countries, and national ownership and participation.
The Secretary-General has taken a number of steps to achieve precisely this kind of strategic approach. Since 2007, the nine UN entities most actively involved in rule of law activities have been working together in the Coordination and Resource Group.
The Group has developed a Joint Strategic Plan for this year through 2011. It has also issued a Guidance Note outlining overarching principles and a policy framework to guide the assistance given throughout the United Nations system.
These efforts are focused on improving the impact of our assistance. We are, however, well aware that our efforts to strengthen United Nations coherence will make a difference only if they are part of a larger effort by the international community. United Nations rule of law initiatives must also cohere with the policies and approaches of your Governments and organizations, which provide a large share of assistance.
It is for this reason that, in his 2008 report on “Strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities”, the Secretary-General called on the international community to foster consensus on assistance policies. He also called on the international community to apply the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness to rule of law assistance, and establish donor coordination structures.
Today’s conference has been organized with that in mind. I am very pleased that the views of participants in countries receiving support will be a central part of your discussions. Indeed, the insights of recipients of support must be at the heart of this effort.
The international community needs to commit to a comprehensive effort to empower national stakeholders and help them develop their own vision, agenda, and approaches to rule of law reform and programmes.
At this time of grave global challenges, it is more critical than ever that we succeed as a community in improving the quality and effectiveness of rule of law assistance. I wish you a fruitful discussion, and look forward to hearing about the outcome.
* *** *For information media • not an official record