A message from Asako Okai

Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator, and Director, Crisis Bureau, UNDP

The start of the Decade for Action for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has coincided with the biggest public health crisis for generations. As we strive to achieve the SDGs, we are aware that this pandemic has both exposed inequalities and exacerbated them.  In order to tackle the far-reaching consequences of COVID-19, we must work towards peaceful, just, and inclusive societies.  Rule of law, security, and human rights institutions are key to sustaining cohesive societies, as well as protecting and respecting international human rights standards, the right to access justice, and due process. 

In a digitized world, it is clear that we must harness the opportunities while protecting individual rights and essential freedoms. As we face global risks that threaten to stymie progress on development, it is essential that we stay focused on our commitment to leave no one behind through improving service provision and effective governance systems. 

In order to expand impact, we must carry out this work in support of the UN system and fulfill UNDP’s role as “integrator” and “connector.” One essential way we do this is by co-leading the Global Focal Point for Rule of Law with DPO.  We also partner with OHCHR, UNWOMEN and UNHCR to tackle issues such as displacement and gender justice. Human rights play an increasingly vital role in our humanitarian response and preparedness actions as we work together in places of protracted crises to strengthen the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. 

The Global Programme on Strengthening the Rule of Law and Human Rights for Sustaining Peace and Fostering Development enables us to deliver comprehensive technical and programmatic support to UNDP Country Offices and national partners committed to strengthening the rule of law and human rights.  The Global Programme works across five regions to deliver comprehensive and effective assistance to those who make up thriving and diverse societies.     

Community driven access to justice has emerged as a signature of our work across the globe. The Joint Justice Programme in Somalia facilitated community conversations on how to deliver justice at the local level. In Ukraine, mobile legal aid centres supported by UNDP increased the accessibility and quality of legal services. The “Justice App” in Sierra Leone enabled court cases across the country to be monitored and fast-tracked via mobile; and in Nepal, a repository for legislation is available online and via mobile, reaching the most remote communities. In El Salvador, the e-justice programme reduced barriers to justice by making information on judicial processes available on-line.

This report provides a more in-depth look at the achievements and challenges faced by UNDP and our partners in 2019.  These experiences reaffirm the vital role the rule of law plays in achieving sustainable development and lasting peace and security for all, no matter the crisis at hand.

Asako Okai, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director, Crisis Bureau, UNDP

Peacekeepers in the Ménaka region of Mali patrol the streets and public places on a daily basis. - © MINUSMA/Harandane Dicko