A global partnership to maintain rule of law in times of crisis

Posted June 17, 2022
UNDP DR Congo

Inaugural session of the Special Criminal Court in Central African Republic

UNDP Central African Republic

A mere cessation of conflict does not mean peace. Peacekeeping and peacebuilding are complex goals that require sustained focus, extensive resources and a wide range of expertise over long periods of time. For this reason, lasting peace can only be achieved through effective partnerships and with the participation of the affected communities.

Rule of law is the bedrock of durable peace and sustainable development. All too often when countries experience conflict or instability, rule of law, justice and security institutions are the first to falter. Yet, these institutions are essential for people to live with dignity and without fear. Rule of law also requires sustained support until it takes root again.

The United Nations Global Focal Point for the Rule of Law (GFP) works across the UN system to implement programmes on rule of law, justice, corrections, police and security sector reform in crisis and conflict-affected areas, in partnership with UNDP’s Global Programme on Rule of Law and Human Rights.

As the GFP marks its 10th anniversary this year, here are three stories of change brought about by its work.

Fighting impunity in the Central African Republic

A series of internal conflicts since 2012 and overall insecurity has led to the breakdown of law and order and the disintegration of criminal justice institutions and basic infrastructure. According to a recent perception survey, 88 percent of Central Africans consider themselves to be victims of crimes and violence committed in the past, and around 60 per cent believe that ensuring accountability for perpetrators is a prerequisite for peace.

To respond to the high demand for justice and peace, the UN Peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, together with UNDP and other United Nations agencies, are working to fight impunity and build back skills and capacity of national justice, corrections and security institutions to maintain the rule of law.

Following the 2015 Bangui Forum on National Reconciliation, two transitional justice mechanisms were established  to hold perpetrators accountable for war crimes and other serious human rights violations. Through the GFP, the United Nations has provided administrative, operational and funding support, as well as experts to the Special Criminal Court and the Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (CVJRR).

The Special Criminal Court has received 237 complaints and has extended protective measures to 305 victims and witnesses. In April 2022, the Court commenced its first trial on war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in May 2019 in the Koundjili and Lemouna villages, where 46 civilians were massacred by rebel armed groups.

At the same time the newly appointed 11 commissioners of the CVJRR will help improve access to justice for victims of armed conflict, conflict-related sexual violence, gender-based violence and other human rights violations in CAR through financial and technical support provided by UNDP and MINUSCA, in partnership with the Peacebuilding Fund.

Justice and policing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, the second largest country in Africa, remains one of the most fragile states in the continent due to conflict and abuses against civilians, committed mainly by armed groups. The conflict has weakened state institutions, there is widespread impunity for crimes and corruption, and absence of impartial mechanisms to prevent and peacefully resolve conflict.

United Nations partners are working together to identify and address the rule of law gaps that may arise as a result of the planned gradual drawdown and exit of the UN Peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, from DRC, including with regard to accountability for serious crimes and sexual and gender-based violence.

In the Kasai Central and Tanganyika regions, where the peacekeeping mission has reduced its military presence since 2021, MONUSCO and UNDP are working together to support the local justice and policing institutions to sustain stability and peace.

They are providing training to national prison personnel, court clerks and police officers on topics including managing and securing prisons, and investigation techniques for war crimes and conflict-related sexual violence. In 2021, more than 500 police officers were trained how to address cases of sexual and gender-based violence and many security and justice institutions were renovated and provided with necessary technical equipment.

United Nations partners mobilized their resources to increase access to justice for local communities and supported mobile hearings of local courts in different regions for over 150 cases.

Increasing community security in South Sudan

Instability and insecurity threaten hard-gained peace in South Sudan. In order to address systematic crimes, several measures have been taken and joint initiatives are being implemented by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, and UNDP.

Among these a community policing approach has been put in place in hotspots, which encourages collaboration among law enforcement agencies, officers and the communities they serve.

More than 50 Police Community Relations Committees (PCRC) have been supported and established. They maintain dialogue within communities and improve relationships with local police. In 2021, over 300 meetings were held across the country. They are also responding to survivors of gender-based violence and referring them to local services and authorities.

By bringing together the cumulative expertise of the United Nations, the GFP delivers tailored assistance to conflict-affected countries. Backed by the lessons and experience of the past 10 years, we remain committed to seeking even stronger partnerships and maximizing the impact of United Nations rule of law assistance.

 

GFP: The Global Focal Point for the Rule of Law was established in 2012 by the UN Secretary-General to enhance predictability, coherence, accountability and effectiveness in the delivery of UN rule of law assistance at country and international levels.

MINUSCA: Concerned with the security, humanitarian, human rights and the political crisis in the Central African Republic and its regional implications, the Security Council in 2014 authorized a multidimensional UN peacekeeping operation – the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic – with the protection of civilians as its utmost priority.

MONUSCO: The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo took over from an earlier UN peacekeeping operation – the United Nations Organization Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo in July 2010.

UNMISS: In July 2011, the UN Security Council determined that the situation faced by South Sudan continued to constitute a threat to international peace and regional security in the region and established the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan to consolidate peace and security and to help establish conditions for development.

UNDP Global Programme for Strengthening the Rule of Law, Human Rights, Justice and Security for Sustainable Peace and Development: The Global Programme is the main operational and financial instrument for UNDP to engage in rule of law, justice, security and human rights in contexts affected by crisis, conflict and fragility. It draws on UNDP’s most innovative rule of law programming to assist country offices in developing comprehensive rule of law programmes that respond rapidly and effectively to needs.