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Statement by Mr. Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, at the Side event on “The Rule of Law, Crime Prevention, and Criminal Justice in the UN Development Agenda Beyond 2015: Engendering a Human Rights for All Approach”, 9 June 2014, UNHQ, New York

Madam moderator, Your Highness, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank the Governments of Italy, Qatar and Thailand and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime for organising this important event.  During the discussions on the post-2015 Development Agenda, Member states have repeatedly emphasized their commitment to development that realizes human rights - civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, as well as the right to development. The goals which the Open Working Group are currently drafting illustrate clearly what this means: Every single goal that the Group is discussing at the moment is either a right in itself or is closely linked to existing human rights standards and principles. We do not need a stand-alone human rights goal but all goals and targets need to reflect human rights standards and principles. This in turn will create favourable conditions for the implementation of the rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice, as all three can be strengthened through a human rights based approach.

I will now outline four concrete ways to illustrate these linkages:

 First, we need goals that address both sides of development – goals that aim for freedom from want and for freedom from fear. Freedom from fear is closely linked to freedom from want. We know that poverty, lack of access to adequate food and medical care, of educational opportunities and high rates of unemployment are often the underlying causes why many engage in unlawful activities. That is why we need to tackle these issues to be able to effectively deal with crime prevention.

Second, we need to make sure that the new framework is based on human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination. When certain parts of society do not benefit from the same rights as others- when they are discriminated against and are not given equal opportunities, solidarity within society is weakened and  incentives to resort to illegal activities are greater.

Third, the new agenda must be supported by global partnership for development which ensures that international policy is coherent with human rights, including the right to development. Development is a pre-requisite to creating opportunities for people to strive for higher standards of living, including through employment. Fostering such opportunities in turn creates less incentives to engage in unlawful activities.

And fourth, the Post-2015 agenda must be based on a strong accountability framework, which includes accountability for actors in the private sector. Such accountability makes the agenda more effective and helps prevent crime. However, in addition we need strong justice systems built on the rule of law and founded on principles of  human rights.

Allow me to elaborate on the  point which is so central to the focus of this event: The Post-2015 Agenda needs to include freedom from fear. What does this mean? From a human rights perspective, it means we need to ensure that all countries have the capacity to ensure their people’s personal security, access to administration of justice, and participation in decision-making. Any effective criminal justice system must ensure that these rights are upheld, and especially in the context of programmes and policies to prevent crime.
The Open Working Group is proposing several goals to address freedom from fear. Let me focus here on the proposed goal on “peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law, and effective and capable institutions”.

On personal security, the proposed goal includes the very important target: to reduce violence and related death rates. It also proposes a target to “end abuse, exploitation and violence against children”. While it is, of course, a priority to ensure the safety and security of children in particular, we must not forget that all people have a right to life, liberty and security, and to freedom from slavery, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The OWG’s current proposal also aims to tackle crime prevention from a qualitative angle as it calls for  “equal access for all to independent, effective, and responsive justice system that respects due-process rights, and equal access to legal aid”. This is a very strong target , which recognizes people’s rights to equality before the law, to remedy, to a fair trial by an independent, competent and impartial judiciary and to be proven innocent until proven guilty. It is supported by targets that aim to “provide legal identity for all” and to “enhance the capacity, professionalism and accountability of the security forces, police and judiciary”.  These are all relevant pre-requisites for any effective crime prevention programme.

These targets need to be retained and supported by indicators that reflect these rights and will enable measurement of progress so as to ensure capacity of the State to provide security, prevent and apprehend those persons involved in criminal conduct, while acting within the parameters of the law, on the basis of relevant international human rights instruments.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude.  The MDGs covered important socio-economic issues and helped deliver freedom from want. But they overlooked freedom from fear. If framed appropriately, the new agenda will help strengthen the rule of law and prevent crime. With the new goals, we have the opportunity to bring back together what started as one call and one idea in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Development as freedom from fear and freedom from want for all people, without discrimination.

Thank you.