A message from Asako Okai

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

At its core, the rule of law exists to serve all people. It is meant to protect universal human rights and promote the concepts of fairness, truth, and equality. However, a large proportion of the world’s population continues to live without the protection of the law, while many others are further marginalized by institutionalized discrimination.

While the challenges our world is facing are many, progress is evident in even the most complex of situations. Over the past decade, UNDP’s Global Programme on Strengthening the Rule of Law and Human Rights for Sustaining Peace and Fostering Development has worked tirelessly with national and international partners to create rule of law and security systems in contexts affected by crisis or conflict that are representative, accountable, effective, and accessible for all.

The added value of the Global Programme is that it enables us to broaden our perspective. We not only get to see the concrete change taking place in communities, but an aggregate picture of 40+ countries/territories striving for the same aim of peace, security, and justice. This comprehensive view has proved critical in distilling lessons learned and adapting our approach to the changing needs of our time. We have gained countless lessons over the years, but the below insights have been paramount in defining our efforts.

  • Human rights and justice go hand in hand. 

    Just as the rule of law protects human rights, human rights promote the rule of law. We adapted the Global Programme during its third phase to support these mutually reinforcing principles from every entry point available. Whether we engage with the judiciary and police - traditional leaders and civil society - or national human rights institutions and ombudsman offices - strengthening the rule of law and human rights from all angles enables us to achieve faster and more durable results.


A Rohingya refugee stands outside the Women's Centre in the Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. - © UN Women / Allison Joyce
  • Women create lasting change. 

    Peacebuilding processes have been found to be more successful when women are involved; just as microfinance loans are more likely to benefit entire communities when provided to a woman. As a critical component of the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda, the Global Programme supports gender justice initiatives in over 80% of our projects to empower women to participate in the provision of their own security and participate fully in rule of law institutions and processes.

  • Politics matter. 

    For too long the rule of law was considered a technical process and supported solely through institution building measures; however, no matter how high the level of investment, nothing would take root without political commitment. Thus, the Global Programme developed a comprehensive package of support for national partners that is not only technically sound, but politically-smart to facilitate transformative change.

  • Flexibility is fundamental. 

    In crisis and conflict affected contexts, the environment is unpredictable, and the stakes are high. The Global Programme emerged out of a need for a flexible mechanism to deliver quality and timely rule of law support. Local needs continue to drive our programming and we pride ourselves in our ability to adapt to rapidly changing dynamics on the ground. We mobilize funding that can be dispersed quickly and leverage expertise from across the UN system through the Global Focal Point for Rule of Law to deliver concrete services to people in crisis situations, helping to restore confidence in the state and laying the foundation for sustainable peace.

  • Positive peace builds resiliency. 

    Traditional peacebuilding approaches focus on addressing the weaknesses of a state during a post-conflict period. This is important, but only provides us with half of the solutions. The Global Programme not only fills critical gaps in capacity but also builds upon communal strengths to foster positive peace. We provide nuanced rule of law and human rights assistance that is effective before, during, and after conflict to help prevent recurrence and sustain peace.

We will continue to build upon these lessons learned to strengthen the rule of law and human rights as accelerators of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - so that in just over a decade from now - no one will have been left behind in the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In this Annual Report, we invite you to discover the key milestones our national partners achieved in strengthening the rule of law and human rights with UNDP’s support in 2018. Let these be reminders of what we can accomplish when we work together, the solutions we have found to overcome complex challenges, and of hope for a better future.

 Asako Okai

Assistant Secretary-General

Assistant Administrator and Director

Crisis Bureau, UNDP