Rule of law and sustaining peace in times of COVID-19

June 26, 2020


The United Nations sustaining peace mandate and the shifting emphasis from conflict management to conflict prevention that is embedded in a human rights-based approach, has been accompanied by renewed calls for the entire United Nations system to work as ‘One UN’. In this context, the Global Focal Point for the Rule of Law (GFP) provides a powerful tool that brings together United Nations entities, agencies, funds and programmes to address deficits in the rule of law and security sectors of countries in conflict and fragile settings.

Since its inception in 2012, the GFP arrangement has offered focused and timely rule of law support to some 24 conflict-affected countries and territories. In 2019, it gained new momentum with an increased number of expert deployments and assessments to Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic (CAR), Gabon, Haiti, Cameroon, Mali, Malawi, Darfur, Libya, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia. Joint rule of law programmes exist in various settings, including in CAR, Darfur, Libya, Mali and Somalia. Since March 2020, in response to unfolding COVID-19 crisis, the attention of the GFP has shifted, based on strong demands from the field, to mitigate the spread of the virus in rule of law institutions, especially in prisons and places of detention.

By linking up with UNDP’s rapid response mechanism, the GFP is now maximizing its support to state authorities, and meeting critical needs identified by United Nations peace operations and United Nations Country Teams. In CAR, GFP assistance together with WHO and ICRC enabled the provision of PPE to mitigate C-19 impacts in prisons and protect detainees and staff. The formalization of an innovative partnership with the NGO Health through Walls under the GFP umbrella will benefit all GFP partners by tapping into a broader network of dedicated medical expertise that can be called upon to offer guidance in real-time, online. More resources and country examples of coronavirus response by GFP partners can be found here.

Another imperative aspect we wish to highlight is our strategic engagement to implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda in close partnership with UN Women, OHCHR, the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict, and others. Under the GFP umbrella, partners provide technical assistance to strengthen women’s access to justice and ways of addressing sexual and gender-based violence, including in CAR, Liberia and Malawi. In Libya, the joint UNDP – UNSMIL Programme on Policing, Justice and Security supports efforts to enhance the role of women in law enforcement and identify entry points to buttress institutional responsiveness to address violence against women.

As the Assistant Secretaries-General of the entities responsible for GFP, we are committed to consolidate the success achieved by the GFP arrangement thus far, and to contribute to further enhance the GFP’s capacity to act as a coherent, efficient and field-driven United Nations rule of law service delivery platform.

We hope you will join us to discuss these topics in greater detail on 29 June at 09.15 EST in the session “The Global Focal Point for the Rule of Law: A joint approach across the UN system” held as part of UNDP’s Annual Meeting “Strengthening the Rule of Law and Human Rights for Sustaining Peace and Fostering Development , Virtual Meeting | June 29 – July 1. The meeting aims to promote an exchange between Member States, UN technical experts, practitioners, and civil society representatives on the rule of law, security and human rights.