Deputy Secretary-General, Briefing General Assembly, Spells Out Principal Aims of Joint Strategic Plan for Strengthening Rule of Law Worldwide

2 October 2009

Deputy Secretary-General, Briefing General Assembly, Spells Out Principal Aims of Joint Strategic Plan for Strengthening Rule of Law Worldwide

2 October 2009
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General, Briefing General Assembly, Spells Out Principal Aims


of Joint Strategic Plan for Strengthening Rule of Law Worldwide


Following is UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s informal briefing to the General Assembly on the rule of law today, 2 October:

Thank you for participating in this briefing.  As Deputy Secretary-General and as Chair of the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, I am pleased to accept the General Assembly’s invitation to interact with Member States.  I will use this opportunity to provide an overview of actions taken by the Group to enhance system-wide coordination and coherence, and to tell you about the actions that are planned for the remainder of the year.

As you know, the rule of law is a complex field linked to critical issues such as peacebuilding, the environment, gross violations of human rights and counter-terrorism.  And as the Secretary-General’s recent report noted, the United Nations is currently conducting rule of law activities in more than 120 countries in all regions of the globe.

Strengthening the rule of law is central to achieving the United Nations vision for a just, secure and peaceful world.  The Rule of Law Resource and Coordination Group, supported by the Rule of Law Unit, has marshalled the United Nations system’s unique wealth of expertise and resources.  While we have far to go, I am pleased to be able to update you on the initiatives taken to date.

This is the first year that the Group, with the support of the Unit, is implementing the Joint Strategic Plan ‑‑ a results-oriented road map that sets out targeted initiatives and outcomes for the next three years.  The Plan is the first of its kind in the rule-of-law field, and marks a significant step in bringing together the nine leading United Nations departments and agencies engaged in rule-of-law activities to work in coordination toward joint outcomes.

One principal aim of the Plan is to strengthen coherence, quality and coordination of policy and guidance within the Organization.  To this end, guidance notes have been developed for key cross-cutting issues, including rule-of-law assistance at the national level, justice for children, and constitution-making.  A note on transitional justice is being prepared.  This guidance from the Secretary-General outlines the principles and framework for a common United Nations approach, so as to increase system-wide effectiveness.  The Group is currently developing a system-wide training programme to reinforce such an approach.

A second principal aim of the Plan is to implement the common approach at the national level.  The Group is consulting with country presences to identify a country in which to undertake a pilot programme that would involve the development of shared methodologies for joint assessment, strategy formulation and joint programming.  Countries being considered must meet basic criteria developed by the Group, including a significant degree of United Nations rule-of-law programming on the ground which the national and United Nations leadership in the country feel would benefit from increased support.

The Plan’s third main goal is to reinforce global action for the rule of law at the national and international levels.  Moving this agenda forward requires engagement and innovation by Member States.  With this in mind, earlier this year the Unit initiated a dialogue with Member States which drew a tremendous turnout and response.  I look forward to hearing the views of Member States this month during the Sixth Committee discussions.

In conjunction with the implementation of the Joint Strategic Plan, the Group is also spearheading efforts to carry out the recommendations put forward by the Secretary-General in last year’s report on improving coordination and efficiency.  As illustrated by the inventory undertaken last year, at least 40 United Nations entities engage in rule-of-law activity.  The need to reach out to this wider set of actors is critical to overall strategic efforts.

This past June, the Rule of Law Unit convened the first of what we intend to be an annual system-wide meeting, in which 27 United Nations entities took part.  It examined ways to strengthen the link between the normative and operational work of the system ‑‑ a disconnect we face far too often.  From this gathering, we have identified a system-wide network of 37 rule-of-law focal points.

Another opportunity for these entities to link themselves more closely together will come via the United Nations Rule of Law website, which will be launched later this month and which we expect will facilitate the dissemination of relevant materials, best practices and lessons learned.

National actors are central to our discourse.  To obtain truly sustainable results, our efforts must seek to mobilize and cultivate local leadership.  The Group and Unit have recently initiated a consultative process with national leaders from developing countries who have played a key role in rule-of-law development.  The process aims to give voice to their views, including on donor assistance, in order to inform future policymaking.

Indeed, more coherent donor assistance is critical.  This past April, at a conference organized by the Rule of Law Unit in cooperation with the United Kingdom, 70 representatives of bilateral donors, recipient countries, international and regional organizations and non-governmental organizations met to review practices and challenges in the field.  As a result, donors in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] agreed to establish an advisory panel on security and justice to improve assistance in conflict-affected and fragile States.  The panel, with experts from the North and South, and from Government and civil society, could help better align donor assistance with local needs.  The United Nations will give it our full support.

Since 2006, responsibility for the overall coordination of the Organization’s rule-of-law work has resided with the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group.  The Group has brought together principals from all relevant United Nations departments and agencies to help ensure policy coherence at the very highest levels across the United Nations system.  In addition, designated lead entities are charged with coordinating and facilitating sector-specific engagement and for delivering assistance on the ground.  This combination of designated leads, coupled with a central coordination mechanism, provides the best formula for bringing coherence to the United Nations system’s rule-of-law efforts.

Already, we can see the fruits of this initial labour.  Still, we have far to go to achieve our ambitious agenda.  I welcome the support the Assembly has provided from the very start.  As we move to further implement the Joint Strategic Plan, your continued backing will be crucial.  We also thank Member States for providing resources.  I appeal to you to continue to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Group and Unit.

Beyond the modest initiatives of the Group, the individual group members continue to implement their programmes to help national authorities to strengthen the rule of law.  I, therefore, appeal to Member States of the need, not only to support the Group, but also to enhance the support that is provided to the UN’s operational entities.  One key element in this regard will be the development of rapidly deployable rule-of-law expertise that could assist host countries on short notice.

Since its founding, the United Nations has been committed to working towards a just, secure and peaceful world governed by the rule of law.  To achieve this goal, it is essential for the Organization to enhance its ability to deliver effective and strategic rule-of-law assistance to Member States, at their request and in accordance with their own priorities and national strategies, and to strengthen multilateral cooperation based on the rule of law.

I look forward to further opportunities to brief you informally on this vital work.  And I wish you every success in your important deliberations at this session of the Assembly.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.