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Human rights, rule of law vital for sustainable development, Ban tells UN Crime Congress

  • 14 April 2015 |


( United Nations Secretary General addresses the 13th Crime Congress at Doah / Photo credit : UN Photo /Eskinder Debebe)

12 April 2015 – Kicking off the 13th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Doha, Qatar, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon along with several other top UN officials today spotlighted the critical connection between rule of law and sustainable development.

“All societies need fair criminal justice systems, effective, accountable institutions, and access to justice for all,” Mr. Ban said in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Crime Congress.

“Accountable security services can go a long way toward ending cycles of violence. Strengthening legal rights helps address inequalities,” he added.

“There can be no sustainable development without human rights and the rule of law,” the Secretary-General continued.

Hundreds of policymakers and practitioners in the area of crime prevention and criminal justice, as well as experts from academia, representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, specialized agencies and other UN entities, and media are attending the forum, which is held every five years.

The Doha Crime Congress, running through 19 April, was opened by the Prime Minister of Qatar, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani. The Congress takes place several months ahead of a major summit on the future global development agenda, scheduled to take place at UN Headquarters in September.



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  • 10 April 2015 |

How does corruption and weak governance undermine development?

Corruption is the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development around the world. It stifles economic growth, undermines the rule of law, and squanders talent and precious resources. Where corruption is rife, companies are reluctant to invest as the costs of doing business are significantly higher. Ultimately, corruption prevents people, countries and businesses from fulfilling their potential.

Corruption undermines democracy, governance and human rights by weakening State institutions that are the cornerstones of fair and equitable societies. Vote buying at elections distorts the democratic process and justice is challenged when criminals are able to bribe with impunity.

With funds intended to provide essential services such as health care, education, clean water, sanitation and housing diverted by corruption, there is less provision of services.

Criminals use resources from illicit activities to bribe law enforcement officials, neutralize courts, purchase or intimidate politicians and journalists, and engage business leaders in criminal activities.

Cumulatively, corruption, crime and weak rule of law tear at the social fabric, undermining the legitimacy of the state, driving out licit economic activity, and endangering public security.


What is the United Nations doing to tackle corruption and promote the rule of law?

The only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument is the United Nations Convention against Corruption(UNCAC) which now has 174 states parties. The Convention contains innovative and globally accepted anti-corruption standards applicable to both the public and private sectors. The Convention encourages states to successfully attack corruption by providing equal and fair justice for all and creating an environment where the rule of law can prevail.

A global community of anti-corruption experts is being created through the peer review mechanism set up to support the implementation of the UNCAC. The mechanism is also helping to desensitize and depoliticize the issue of corruption, enabling a frank and constructive global dialogue among regions and legal systems. The country reports have become a benchmark against which countries can measure their progress which is helping build up a global picture of efforts against corruption.

UNODC has trained more than 1,400 anti-corruption practitioners from across the globe and provided assistance to dozens of States to draft or amend their legislation.

UNODC also partners with the World Bank on the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR Initiative), which supports efforts to end safe havens for corrupt funds. StAR works closely with developing countries and financial centres to prevent the laundering of the proceeds of corruption and to facilitate more systematic and timely return of stolen assets.


What can I do?

Add your voice to the Rule of Law campaign – send us a photo or video explaining what the rule of law means to you and we will post it on the UN Crime Congress social media platforms.

Join the Break the Corruption Chain campaign, by raising awareness of the causes of corruption and spreading the word on how to make a difference against it.

Inform yourselves about what your governments are doing to tackle corruption.

Use social media to raise your voice, using the hashtag #breakthechain, or use campaign logos and factsheets to educate further. Find out more about the campaign and what you can do to help, here.



  • 10 April 2015 |

What is the theme of this year’s Congress?

The theme of the Thirteenth Congress is “Integrating crime prevention and criminal justice into the wider United Nations agenda to address social and economic challenges and to promote the rule of law at the national and international levels, and public participation”, as decided by the United Nations General Assembly (GA Resolution 67/184).

What will be discussed at the Congress?

There are four substantive items on the agenda covering the following issues:

  • successes and challenges in implementing comprehensive crime prevention and criminal justice policies and strategies to promote the rule of law at the national and international levels, and to support sustainable development;

  • international cooperation, including at the regional level, to combat transnational organized crime;

  • comprehensive and balanced approaches to prevent and adequately respond to new and emerging forms of transnational crime;

  • national approaches to public participation in strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice.

The Congress will also be the venue of four workshops on: the role of the United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice; trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants; strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to evolving forms of crime such as cybercrime and trafficking in cultural property; and public contribution to crime prevention and raising awareness of criminal justice. A high-level segment will be held during the first two days of the Congress, where Heads of State or Government and Ministers and other high-level government representatives will address the main agenda items of the Congress. There will also be numerous other side meetings organized by non-governmental organizations, covering subjects relating to crime prevention, criminal justice and the rule of law.

Who will participate?

The Crime Congress is a global forum that brings together the largest and most diverse gathering of policymakers and practitioners in the area of crime prevention and criminal justice, as well as individual experts from academia, representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, specialized agencies and other United Nations entities, and the media.

What is the expected outcome of the Congress?

The Congress will adopt a single political declaration, which will contain recommendations based on discussions at the various parts of the Congress including the high-level segment and the workshops. The declaration will be submitted to the next session of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice from 18-22 May 2015 for appropriate consideration and action. The Congress will also provide a platform for increased cooperation between governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations on the whole spectrum of crime prevention and criminal justice issues, thus promoting more effective international action in this field.

What happens in the run-up to the Congress?

To provide a regional perspective on the topics to be discussed at the Congress, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized a series of regional preparatory meetings in 2014, held in Bangkok, Thailand; Doha, Qatar; San José, Costa Rica; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A special Governmental Expert Group Meeting was also held in Qatar from 27-29 September 2014. The idea was for participants to highlight their special concerns and share their “lessons learned”.

How can I follow proceedings if I am not able to come to Doha, Qatar?

A website will provide live and on-demand webcast coverage of the Congress in English and the original (floor) language, as well as statements (speeches) in text format. The website is: http://www.un.org/en/events/crimecongress2015/webcast

How do I get involved?

Participate in the “What does Rule of Law mean to you?” photo and video campaign, and learn more about various forms of transnational crime at: http://www.un.org/en/events/crimecongress2015/get_involved.shtml

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