Deputy Secretary-General: Statements
New York, 7 February 2014 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Side Event to 8th Session of Open Working Group on Sustainable Developments Goals : Measuring the Rule of Law and the Post-2015 Development Agenda [as prepared for delivery]
I thank Ambassador Khan and the Permanent Mission of Pakistan for hosting this event. The Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, which I am proud to chair, is happy to support this important discussion. I welcome our panellists who are here to share their experiences with us.
As our work to reach the Millennium Development Goals approaches its deadline, there is growing understanding that our efforts could have been enhanced by placing more emphasis on justice and the rule of law.
The formulation of a post-2015 development agenda is thus a very welcome opportunity to show why the rule of law should play a central role.
There is much to build on.
In September 2012, at the General Assembly’s first-ever High-level Meeting on the rule of law, all 193 Member States united around the idea that development and the rule of law are mutually reinforcing. Since then, the principle has been reiterated by Member States, the Secretary-General and many others in the international community.
Justice and the rule of law are themselves goals of development. But they are also essential to the achievement of many other development outcomes.
The rule of law promotes inclusive economic growth and builds accountable institutions that underpin sustainable development.
The rule of law can help make basic services available for all, such as education health, sanitation and access to justice.
The rule of law can empower citizens to address the underlying causes of inequality and exclusion. Indeed, the ground-breaking work some years ago of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor showed us how important the rule of law is in enabling people to lift themselves out of poverty.
In his report, “A Life of Dignity for All”, the Secretary-General calls for a single, coherent and ambitious post-2015 development agenda with sustainable development at its core and poverty eradication as its highest priority. The rule of law clearly deserves a place on this agenda. The agenda must contain one concise set of goals.
For us to chart our progress, it is, of course, essential that development goals and targets are measurable.
Around the world, people are asking questions such as:
• How accessible and responsive are our justice institutions?
• What proportion of young children have their births registered, enabling them to claim their rights?
• How, in concrete terms, does violence against women impair their ability to contribute as equal decision-makers and economic actors?
Today we are able to answer these questions with growing precision. The rule of law can be and is being measured. Let us remember – the source of wisdom is knowing the facts.
The United Nations Statistical Commission, for example, has agreed on indicators for violence against women. Indeed, many countries are already collecting data on this issue on a regular basis.
International and regional organizations have developed measurement methodologies covering land and property security, corruption, juvenile justice, human trafficking and other issues.
Countries are increasingly measuring the rule of law for use in national policy planning.
Access to timely and better statistics helps decision-makers and ensures that policies are evidence-based. This in turn supports resource mobilization, transparency and accountability.
In Liberia, the collection of rule of law data helped to identify an increase in reporting to the police and a marked improvement in victims’ perception of police services. At the same time, data also highlighted a perception of corruption and insufficient accountability in the police system, alerting policy makers to an area requiring their attention.
Data allows for informed priority setting and strengthened local ownership of the rule of law. Here, of course, we see the importance of Right to Information legislation, already adopted in many countries.
Rule of law targets and indicators should consider existing sources of data – some of which you will hear more about today. They should also be bold in considering what new data can be collected.
We must continue efforts to improve the quality of statistics and information available to citizens. The High-Level Panel’s Report emphasized the importance of building data systems to provide timely, disaggregated information to measure progress, in all countries, and at all levels. Strengthening national data collection will be essential.
Finally, when we measure our progress in strengthening the rule of law, I would challenge us to focus on the outcomes of our work. To ask ourselves: how are we delivering justice for “we, the peoples”? This would be a useful contribution to the efforts of the Open Working Group.
Our future development agenda should be ambitious and inspirational. The impact of the rule of law, and its role in inclusive, sustainable development, must be felt by all the people of the world.
Statements on 7 February 2014