UN expert urges Member States to consider justice as pillar of development

23 October 2014

The pursuit of development must expand beyond economic gains and include claims of justice, non-discrimination and opportunities, an independent United Nations expert told the General Assembly today.

In presenting her latest report to the UN body, Gabriela Knaul, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, cautioned delegates over the current development framework established by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), stating that it was “too limited conceptually to fully account for the human experience of development.”

“I strongly believe that the promotion of justice and the consolidation of the rule of law provide the necessary tools for the fostering of more equitable, inclusive and sustainable development,” Ms. Knaul said.

“When the administration of justice fails, impunity takes over and undermines democracy, the rule of law, people’s trust in State institutions, as well as opportunities for development.”

The Special Rapporteur urged Member States to adopt a human-rights based approach to development, suggesting that they insert “explicit references” to human rights standards and standards related to access to justice in the post-2015 sustainable development goals and targets. By failing to acknowledge the role of the justice system, she continued, the international community would “surely jeopardize the success of the Post-2015 development agenda.”

“Weak judicial systems that fail to guarantee access to justice for all lead to situations in which the most marginalized groups of the population are excluded from the judicial system, compounding the discrimination and vulnerability they are facing,” Ms. Knaul added.

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