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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Deputy Secretary-General: Statements

New York, 1 November 2013 - Deputy Secretary-General's opening statement at event on Rule of Law, Transitional Justice and Development [as prepared for delivery]

It is a great pleasure to be here.  I thank the Permanent Mission of Sweden for its initiative in hosting, and all of you for joining this event.

Delivering justice through the rule of law is at the foundation of all our work at the UN.  The rule of law is fundamental to maintaining a lasting peace.  It is of central importance to fair and sustainable development.  And it makes rights enforceable in practice.

Let me make this more concrete.  An effective criminal justice system reduces violence.  Enforceable contracts and fair labour regulations support inclusive growth.  A just constitution promotes equality.  Independent judges can hold state institutions to account and protect our rights.  In contrast, injustice and human rights violations create conditions that hamper development.  Transitional justice is crucial for societies to address the root causes that contribute to societal upheavals.

Tunisia is a powerful case in point.  As noted in the most recent report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, rapid MDG progress failed to predict widespread popular discontent.  We see again that economic growth alone is not an adequate measure of development.  The rule of law and human rights matter as well.  Justice, security and development cannot be promoted in isolation from or at the expense of the other.

Last month, at the Security Council’s debate on women, the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict-affected situations, the connection between justice, peace and development was once again strongly felt.

The Council adopted a resolution that reiterated the importance of women’s participation in shaping transitional justice as well as their access to measures that address the full range of human rights violations.  There is much that we can and must do to ensure the inclusion of the voices, interests and concerns of women.

The rule of law is not an abstract concept to me.  In Sweden, as our hosts can affirm, institutions were strengthened through the rule of law.  This earned them public trust and allowed them to become an anchor for the country’s development.

In September of last year, all 193 United Nations Member States endorsed this same idea: that the rule of law and development are mutually reinforcing.  The Declaration adopted at their high-level meeting affirmed that this interrelationship should be considered in the post-2015 development agenda. 

Discussions on this agenda are well under way.  There is already a broad consensus that it must be ambitious and inspirational, with sustainable development at its core and the eradication of poverty as its top priority.  But poverty will not be alleviated without justice.  The rule of law should have its place in this new agenda. 

That is why the Secretary-General’s recent report,  “A Life of Dignity for All,” stresses that lasting peace and sustainable development cannot be fully realized without respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Member States seem to agree.  The Outcome Document adopted at last month’s Special Event of the General Assembly on the MDGs notably reaffirms "the importance of promoting human rights, good governance, the rule of law, transparency and accountability at all levels." 

As requested by the General Assembly, the Secretary-General is now undertaking a wide process of consultations with many different stakeholders to explore the linkages between the rule of law, peace and security, human rights and development.  I encourage you all to take part. 

These efforts will continue to develop our understanding, and enable us to take a more comprehensive approach to the rule of law.  Today’s discussion is another welcome contribution to this end.

Then we pay attention to justice and the rule of law, we get results across the international agenda and concrete effects on the lives of the people we are to serve.

I look forward to a fruitful discussion and thank you for inviting me.