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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Deputy Secretary-General: Statements

Washington, D.C., 20 October 2014 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at World Bank Law, Justice and Development Week - "Law and Justice in the United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015"


Thank you very much, Mr. President,

Before you have to leave for urgent affairs related to both health and climate change crises, I want to commend you and your colleagues at the World Bank for opening up to such a great degree for cooperation with the United Nations.  I think we have made great strides forward to bring together the San Francisco and the Breton Woods cultures in a very constructive and productive way.

I thank you very much for opening up this conference with these inspiring words, and I’m very much honoured to be facing you here at this very important week, the Law, Justice and Development Week.

You are all here to mark a common interest in the justice dimension of development work. This is part of the wider picture of the interrelationship between peace, development, and human rights and the rule of law. There is no peace without development, there is no development without peace, and there is no lasting peace nor sustainable development without respect of human rights and the rule of law. That is the basic formula that I was very proud to gavel as President of the General assembly in September 2005.

This morning will set the stage for discussions on “Financing and Implementing the Post-2015 Development Agenda”.  I would like, in my presentation, to explore some fundamental shifts in the global landscape, and then secondly discuss with you how justice fits in the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015, in particular.

For once I will use a written text. I do so because I have so many lawyers in the room, so I will be trying to be precise as possible. But I can be part of a more informal interactive discussion after my speech, which will be a bit longer than my speeches usually are. But bear with me, because I’m trying for the first time to bring together the conceptual relationship between the changing global landscape and the role of justice for development.

In the year 2000, world leaders agreed on a Millennium Declaration.  Eight goals were formulated to address poverty over the next 15 years.  As we know, the MDGs – the Millennium Development Goals – have made a substantive impact on both the national and global levels.

The MDGs raised national awareness and shaped a global vision.  A global movement was created which included Member States, civil society, the private sector and many committed individuals – in addition, of course, to international organisations like the United Nations and World Bank, and regional organisations.

During the last 14 years, progress has been made towards achieving these MDGs. As a result, the lives of billions of people have improved.

The poverty reduction target has been met globally. Extreme poverty continues to decline in every developing region, including in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Here, of course, the Ebola outbreak has now introduced a tragic factor of uncertainty, and particularly that goes for West Africa.

The target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved water sources has also been met.

Conditions for more than 200 million people living in slums have improved.

Primary school enrolment of girls now equals that of boys in most countries. That was definitely not the case even as recently as the 90s.

We have seen progress in reducing child mortality.

But much remains to be done. Much remains to be done.

Hunger remains a global challenge.  Ensuring that all children complete their primary education remains an unfulfilled target.

Lack of access to decent sanitation is hampering progress in health, nutrition and maternal health.  2.5 billion people in the world lack toilets – sanitation facilities. 1.1 billion practice open defecation. These are key reasons why more than 2000 children die every day of diarrhoea, dysentery, dehydration.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes and I am very deeply engaged with this issue, which I hope will be included in the next generation SDGs - sustainable development goals.

Climate change, environmental degradation, and increasing frequency and scale of disasters are heavy strains on already fragile economies and vulnerable populations, as we see around the world.  Look at the droughts, hurricanes and floods.

In spite of progress, the goal of gender equality also remains unfulfilled, despite the fact that this century is finally the century of women. Women’s empowerment will happen this century, for the first time in history – finally – and it’s good news for both men and women. But we see uneven progress on gender equality, not only between nations but also within nations. The developments are truly uneven.

In addition to these challenges, the world has changed significantly during the last two decades.

The global landscape is shifting substantially, both in geopolitical, geo-economic, demographic and technological terms. 

Governments have, in my view, not fully come to terms with the ways in which the ground has shifted beneath their feet.

It is our common task to analyse and adapt to these changes.  A meeting like this one is an opportunity to discuss the changing and challenging global landscape, and put it in the context of our particular missions – like yours in the area of justice – and what that could mean for development.

Globalization is now characterized by the free flow of capital, labour and ideas.  All these are positive factors, of course.  But we also see the problems stemming from cybersecurity, organized crime, and an unprecedented concentration of wealth.

Concentration of wealth in the hands of a few is a hallmark of both emerging and established economies and creates deep levels of economic inequality, with serious social and political consequences.

On demographics, in some countries the percentage of elderly people is very high.  In others the youth bulge represents a huge social problem, especially when large numbers of young people are unemployed.  I would consider that as one of our major challenges, both internationally and nationally. Half the world’s population is under 25 years of age – the largest generation of young people in history.

The world population will also increase substantially until around 2050.  But the politics of family planning remain sensitive and divisive, as we all know.  At the same time, we need much more progress on the best known solution for family planning – namely girls’ education.

Again on demographics, more people live in cities than ever before.  By 2030, at least 60% of humanity - some forecasts predict even up to75% - will be living in urban areas, with enormous consequences in social and cultural terms, but also stress on infrastructure, transportation and so forth.

More people are on the move than ever before, migrating from their countries of origin in search of economic opportunities and wider individual space.

The information technology of just 20 years ago seems ancient.  We can now communicate at great speed and immediately reach vast, far-flung audiences.  No country, no leader, can hide inequalities inside or realities outside its borders. People want to see change and results quickly. There is a mood of instant gratification noticeable in today’s world.

These developments represent fundamental shifts in the global landscape.

The concept of state sovereignty is a founding principle of the United Nations.  But today it is not only countries that are plugging into the global grid – it is more and more people and non-state actors, which is a new phenomenon. 

This fragmentation and individualisation of power and influence is a challenge to the nation states.

It also allows non-state actors to coalesce and achieve critical mass across national borders, in a way that is hard for states to control or direct.  We can see this with dangerous phenomena like terrorist groups and organised crime, and also the cooperation between the two.

So, on one hand, some non-state actors are becoming more significant as dangers and as spoilers for development.  But other non-state actors are important as essential partners. 

In development and human rights, for example, we need the involvement of civil society, the scientific community, the private sector if we are to achieve change. And this goes very much for the next generation goals. We have to mobilise everybody around our goals.

This is one reason why the traditional “tools” of international diplomacy, of which I am very much part, have difficulty finding traction at present.  These tools were designed for negotiations and cooperation between governments.  In conflicts today we often see a growing role of non-state actors, which we have to take into account. Often they are exploiting religions and ethnic differences, and, by that, increasing the emotional temperature of the conflict. And the classic diplomatic tools become less effective.

The challenges we are facing in today’s world require international solutions.  Be it climate change, migration, urbanisation, or the growing nexus between international organised crime and terrorism.  At the same time, the challenges we face are becoming ever more complex and pressing, for both national governments and the international community and international organisations.

In the face of these developments, the need for an international development agenda that is both transformative and ambitious has never been more obvious and urgent.  We need to do a better job at preventing conflicts and at re-building post-conflict. And we need to address the root causes through development and respect of human rights and the rule of law.

Here I would like to add a thought that came to my mind on the train coming down here: that we live in a world where we have to combine national efforts and international efforts in a complementary fashion, because they are practically the same. The agenda is the same. Nations that build good societies that function effectively, and where people see the benefits of organised society and the nation state: those states are indeed contributions not only to the welfare and wellbeing of their own populations; they are in today’s world also contributions to international peace and security. Because with glaring inequalities you may have internal strife and possibly regional conflict. It is immediately relevant to the international sphere. So building a good nation is a contribution to international security.

Conversely, international cooperation is also absolutely crucial to complement the efforts of the nation state. And I would give perhaps a rather daring and hopeful forecast that we will in the end come to the conclusion that the good international solution, the good international formula – in the area of migration or of climate change, for example, where national solutions are almost logically impossible to think of – the international solutions will I hope growingly be seen as being in the national interest of Member States. Can you imagine the day when the international solution is seen as being in the national interest, and that is recognised by parliaments, by editorial writers, by people around the world? Then we have made a qualitative breakthrough in multilateralism and international cooperation.

So this is why now is the time to use all our tools against poverty and in our quest for peace, prosperity, justice, and dignity. 

First of all, we must accelerate progress on the MDGs during the next 14 months, the remaining time until the end of the 2000-2015 period.

Secondly, the Member States of the UN now have the opportunity to build and expand on the MDGs, to address the challenges and complexities of the new era that I have described.  We and they should now work towards a single, coherent and ambitious post-2015 agenda, with sustainable development at its core and poverty eradication as its highest priority. I also hope the rule of law and institution building will be integral parts of the new agenda, and I will come back to this theme.

This must be a universal agenda based on a new global partnership.

The Document which came out of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals in July of this year is both bold, forward looking and wide-reaching.  It reflects the breadth and transformative nature of the world’s development needs. 

By the end of this year, the Secretary-General will seek to bring together these various strands in his Synthesis Report, as requested by Member States. And of course the Working Group’s results will be very much a basis for that report. We will also try to maintain the boldness and degree of ambition needed for this next period of transformative change. After we have produced this report at the end of the year – the Secretary-General, myself and my colleagues - Amina Mohammed is the leading Assistant Secretary-General for this work – the Member States will start negotiations which aim to adopt the new Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015, for the period 2015-2030.

Means of implementation and – most practically – financing for development will be critical components in this process.

Financial resources are key to the successful implementation of the post-2015 agenda. This will make the difference between rhetoric and real impact on the economic and social life of people around the world.

Official Development Assistance (ODA) remains important, especially for the Least Developed Countries and countries in conflict. ODA is necessary, though not sufficient, to meet the needs of the forward agenda.

All private and public, as well as national and international resources need to be mobilized. ODA can catalyse additional resources, but innovative financing mechanisms should be urgently developed, both in the area of sustainable development financing and climate financing. And growingly, these two ends converge. I hope will see them as a common challenge.

Governments need to provide a set of clear incentives to channel global liquidity where it’s most needed. A well-balanced combination of risk reduction and regulatory frameworks can play a key role to ensure a level playing field for investors entering new markets.

Member States have expressed themselves on this issue.  The work of the UN Intergovernmental Committee on Sustainable Development Financing goes beyond the consensus reached in Monterrey some years ago to identify sources of financing beyond ODA.  It also deals with how such sources can be used. And it recognises other factors which are relevant, such as the estimated 50 billion dollars draining out of Africa every year in the form of illicit financial flows. And then of course to that you can add issues such as the effective collection of taxes and regulation of tax havens.  So this is a very important challenge – one that will be considered at a very important meeting in Addis Ababa in July 2015, which may be seen as the convergence of the Monterrey and Rio processes.

The International Financial Institutions have a critical role to play in supporting countries to achieve sustainable development.

The World Bank, along with the other multilateral Development Banks, has the expertise and track record to provide blended private and public financing for long-term investments.

I commend the work done in this field by the World Bank, President Kim and his Special Envoy Mahmoud Mohieldin, who works very closely with us.

From the side of the UN, we look forward to continuing this collaboration leading up to the Addis Conference in mid-July next year. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Climate change is likewise a core component of the development agenda.  The climate change process cannot be divorced from the work for new Sustainable Development Goals. It has to be integrated. I would forecast that climate change generally is going to permeate all our work in the next decades. We might have plan B in life in certain respects, but there is certainly no planet B.

The bridge between climate change and post-2015 is sustainability.  No sustainable development agenda for post-2015 can ignore the devastating consequences of climate change. 

Eradicating poverty as a central objective is compatible with building resilience and restructuring the global economy to hold the average global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.  These are mutually reinforcing goals.  Taken and hopefully met together, they can provide wellbeing and security for future generations.

We must speed up and scale up action at every level to effectively mitigate, and adapt to, climate change.

The new development agenda must also be underpinned by justice, human rights and the rule of law, and based on universal values.

The cornerstone of the UN’s various mandates is the UN Charter, whose principles and purposes are implemented through the three pillars that underpin our work – peace, security and human rights. 

The rule of law also has a fundamental relationship with human rights, of course.  The rule of law without human rights is merely “rule by law.”  Rule by law.  And this can be a tool for the arbitrary and oppressive exercise of power.  And human rights without the rule of law risks being rhetoric without the means of enforcement.

We must use the rule of law to strengthen and protect our normative framework.

By way of example, the Secretary-General’s “Human Rights up Front” initiative aims to raise the importance of the human rights pillar of the UN agenda. The idea of the initiative is for the UN to act earlier in the face of human rights abuses. We successfully applied some of the Human Rights Up Front mechanisms in the cases of South Sudan and the Central African Republic, although I admit that these are examples of late, rather than early warning. The simple rationale for Human Rights Up Front is that we know that the first symptoms of most conflicts - or at least a great number of conflicts - are human rights violations which can later turn into mass atrocities or worse still. And that’s when the Security Council usually gets involved. My logic tells me that we should act at the human rights violation stage rather than the mass atrocity stage. Through this initiative, we will move the spectrum of action to the earlier part, which could be a qualitative change with great significance on the ground.

We need to do more to help Member States prevent the large-scale violations which can tear apart their countries.

Our ambition is to identify risks earlier and bring them to the attention of national and regional actors before there is a need for other action, for example through the Security Council.

The rule of law is also an important tool to support prevention and to stop violations.  We have a range of specific rule of law tools, not least though the judicial institutions and human rights commissions. 

The building of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions which support the rule of law and protect human rights should be fundamental elements of the post-2015 development framework.

There cannot be a genuinely successful development agenda without justice.  Justice and development are mutually reinforcing.  This was recognised by Member States in the 2012 High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law.

Since then, the principle has been reiterated by Member States, the Secretary-General and many others in the international community.

Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all, and building effective institutions is a goal which has been articulated by Member States as targets identified as part of their work on the post-2015 development agenda. This is in the negotiation structure at present, and I would hope that the Member States will retain these qualitatively important elements for development work.

The rule of law helps to establish a functioning regulatory system that fosters equitable growth.

The rule of law ensures accountability.  It assists in making available basic services for all, such as education, health and sanitation. 

Effective, accountable and transparent institutions that deliver justice are critical to development.

The current Ebola outbreak underlines the critical importance of robust infrastructure and responsive institutions that are accountable and foster public trust and confidence.

Accountability of institutions also requires public awareness and information in order to make well-founded and responsive decisions. What exists in law is sometimes not known to the people. This issue is absolutely crucial. It’s a very important way of really living up to democratic governance.

The rule of law empowers institutions and citizens to address underlying causes of inequality and exclusion. 

Laws protecting women’s inheritance rights, for instance, or ability to enter into contracts, will give women greater financial independence.  This, in turn, will contribute to a country’s sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Here there is much work still to be done.

Ensuring accountability in both development and application of rule of law is a powerful tool for public oversight and for preventing waste and corruption.  Corruption is of course a huge menace in all respects.

All this underlines that we must do more to strengthen the rule of law, to support the full range of development outcomes –  from health and the sustainable management of natural resources, to women’s empowerment and non-discrimination. 

In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen - and I come to the end of my presentation,

Our future development agenda should be ambitious and inspirational.  It’s a daunting but also an inspiring and an enormously important task to define the road ahead for development for the next 15 years.

It should have sustainable development at its core, with poverty eradication as its priority. 

And justice, the rule of law and well-functioning institutions clearly deserve a place on this agenda. 

In all this work we should be forward-looking and work together more closely than ever before. And you are partners in this. The cooperation between the World Bank and the United Nations is crucial for progress.

But working together applies not only to international organizations and governments.  We must reach out to and involve the private sector, civil society and the academic and scientific communities.

We must work together horizontally, not vertically, not in silos.  We must be very adept working in our respective fields, but we must work together when we solve today’s global problems. We must place the problems in the centre and mobilise around the solutions.  Remember:  nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something.

So I wish you fruitful discussions in the week ahead and I’m honoured to be invited to this very important conference.

Thank you.


Statements on 20 October 2014