Deputy Secretary-General Briefs Security Council on Recent Institutional Changes Made to Bolster UN Rule of Law Activities in Conflict, Post-Conflict Situations

30 January 2013

Deputy Secretary-General Briefs Security Council on Recent Institutional Changes Made to Bolster UN Rule of Law Activities in Conflict, Post-Conflict Situations

30 January 2013
Security Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6913th Meeting (AM)

Deputy Secretary-General Briefs Security Council on Recent Institutional Changes

Made to Bolster UN Rule of Law Activities in Conflict, Post-Conflict Situations

Says Interim Analysis Shows Progress, But Better Data Collection Needed;

Full Report to Council on Assessment of Impact on the Ground Will Follow in June

As he briefed the Security Council today on the institutional changes the United Nations was putting in place to bolster its rule-of-law activities, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said that, while the effort was delivering results, broader support for improved data collection was needed so the Organization could better measure impact on the ground, especially in countries affected by conflict.

Recalling that last January the Council had requested United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit a report on the Organization’s efforts to promote the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict situations, Mr. Eliasson said the Secretariat had since been working hard to improve its institutional arrangements to maximize impact on the ground.  His briefing would serve as an interim progress report and would be followed in June by a full report, once the measures were fully assessed.

He said that the Declaration adopted by the General Assembly’s historic September 2012 High-Level Meeting on the Rule of Law had emphasized that the principle provided the keys to tackling challenges in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peacebuilding.  “Delivering justice and security through the rule of law mitigates conflict and helps reduce the risk of relapse into further conflict,” he said, recalling that the Declaration had also requested the Secretary-General to ensure greater system-wide coordination to improve the effectiveness of the Organization’s work regarding the rule of law.

The Secretary-General’s 2011 report to the Council on the subject had acknowledged the need for stronger policy coherence to make real changes on the ground.  At that time, roles and responsibilities were not clearly delineated and there was no single lead guiding the Organization in that work.  After extensive consultations, he said that the Secretary-General had made a decision in September 2012 to realign the United Nations institutional response to the challenges it faced in supporting the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict States.

Highlighting the steps the Secretary-General had taken in that regard, Mr. Eliasson noted that, at the field level, the powers of the Organization’s field leadership had been enhanced, making those officials more responsible and accountable for guiding and overseeing United Nations rule-of-law strategies on the ground, addressing local challenges and coordinating the relevant efforts of country teams.

At Headquarters, the Secretary-General had designated the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the joint Global Focal Point for the police, justice and corrections areas in post-conflict and other crisis situations, to support of field leadership in carrying out their new responsibilities.  “The aim is to link all relevant United Nations entities and coordinate our field support,” he said.

As for strategic-level initiatives, he said the Secretary-General had strengthened the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, which Mr. Eliasson chaired.  That panel aimed to ensure that the United Nations could foresee and address emerging opportunities and mobilize its partners in response.  While noting that this year, the Secretariat planned to assess the impact of those institutional changes, he acknowledged that that exercise would not be easy.

“This is especially true in complex environments where it can take a very long time to see real change,” he said, explaining that in such situations, multiple forces were at play; justice and security sector reform might not be linear, making progress slow and uneven.  Rule of law work also demanded a holistic approach that linked justice, security and development, and that aimed to reach vulnerable groups in society.  He went on to note that, while there had been some significant progress in measuring impact in many sectors of development, rule-of-law methods continued to lack the benefit of systematically collected and analysed data with which to measure the impact of interventions.

Even where tangible progress could be measured, it was difficult to attribute it to a particular entity’s assistance, he said, adding:  “To successfully evaluate our work, we need to start the process early.  We need baseline data to understand the context, define the objectives and measure progress.”  All rule-of-law activities should be subjected to such analysis, he said, assuring the Council that the Secretariat was working towards that goal.

Providing some examples, he said that in Malawi, information from the UNDP-supported justice baseline study had been used to shape the Government’s Democratic Governance Reform Strategy.  In Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNDP-led public surveys had played a role in developing a National Transitional Justice Strategy.

“Improved availability and quality of national rule-of-law data would assist us in evaluating the impact of our work.  Such data supports national policymaking and enables an informed public to hold Governments accountable,” he said adding, however, that data collection should clearly not be seen as an exercise in ranking countries.  Rather, it was a tool Governments could use to set their own priorities and, where needed, galvanize international support.  National ownership was an important aspect of the work of the rule of law.

“I encourage Governments to make pledges to support these data collection efforts in conflict and post-conflict States,” he said, noting that such pledges could build on those made at the General Assembly High-level Meeting, which had generated more than 400 pledges to strengthen the rule of law.  “This is a very encouraging sign of the interest taken in this increasing new momentum on rule of law,” he said, adding that better data would also help the Organization better plan and better prioritize, so that it could optimize resources, carry out more accurate assessments and mitigate risks.

Mr. Eliasson said the United Nations had also developed a number of tools to help States advance the rule of law.  Again providing several concrete examples, he noted that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had developed the United Nations Rule of Law Indicators Project, which allowed Governments to gather information on law enforcement, and justice and prison systems, and measured transformation over time.  That tool was being used by the Governments of Haiti, Liberia and South Sudan.

Further, he said that next year, UNDP would publish a “User’s Guide to Measuring Rule of Law, Justice and Security Programmes”.  Further, as the Organization continued to enhance its ability to measure the impact of its work, there was evidence that efforts were indeed delivering results.  He was gratified to note that in Côte d’Ivoire, the United Nations peacekeeping operation there had supported the Ministry of Justice in reopening 17 courts and 22 prisons, “a very concrete and substantial result”.

He said that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had supported the start-up of 18 legal aid offices.  In Serbia, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) worked with the Government and local non-governmental organizations to help prevent marginalized individuals from becoming stateless, providing more than 20,000 Roma with official documents.  More than 250 persons have been indicted by the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, and more than 120 convicted to date.

“These initiatives have shown results in helping to deliver justice and setting societies on course for lasting stability,” he said.  In closing, he reaffirmed that there could be no peace without development, no development without peace, and neither without full respect for human rights and the rule of law.  The focus of the Security Council on the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict situations underlined and strengthened that important relationship, he said, expressing his and Secretary-General Ban’s deep appreciation for that work, and looking forward to the Council’s continued engagement.

The meeting began at 10:09 a.m. and adjourned at 10:19 a.m.

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