Years of IDLO experience in Latin America have culminated in the opening of an office in Honduras, just weeks before the nation formally joined the Organization at its 2015 Assembly of Parties.
Centered on San Pedro Sula, IDLO’s first major program in the country seeks to contribute to government's efforts to reduce violence through access to justice. Conducted in partnership with the United States State Department, the program relies on strong co-operation with San Pedro Sula’s civil society organizations, community structures, local authorities and law enforcement. It aims to foster collaboration where it is lacking, and help develop multi-agency solutions to Honduras’s murder epidemic: in 2013, San Pedro Sula overtook Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez as the most violent city on the planet, with nearly 2 murders for every thousand residents.
Alongside the gang killings fueled by the drug trade, domestic violence is associated with a growing prevalence of femicide and crimes against children: in the first half of 2015 alone, almost 9,000 unaccompanied Honduran children fled the country.
On the margins of the Assembly of Parties, where she signed her country’s accession to IDLO, Honduran Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for International Cooperation and Social Promotion Ambassador Maria del Carmen Nasser de Ramos spoke to News Editor Andre Vornic:
Andre Vornic: What can IDLO offer Honduras?
Maria del Carmen Nasser de Ramos: IDLO, with its experience and its pursuit of bringing countries closer to justice, and justice closer to people within countries, can help us seek the best mechanism for access to justice, especially as regards women and children, and victims of violence. But IDLO can also bring into a focus the pursuit of a matter which is extremely important, which is that of redress.
AV: If you were to pick one problem that was most urgent for Honduras to address, what would it be?
MCNR: Honduras has acquired an international reputation as a country with a problem of violence – and high levels of it. It is worth noting that these levels have come down somewhat. Even so, it is important to co-operate with organizations such as IDLO, in order not just to help cut violence through access to preventive justice, but also to secure reparatory justice by working with the victims.
AV: Do you see Honduras as a trailblazer in Latin America in this respect?
MCNR: We are happy to be hosting IDLO’s first office in the region. We hope that through the learning process facilitated by this office, we can share the experience of working with IDLO with neighboring countries – particularly in Central America, where our nations are very close and very similar. This office, and this early experience, will be vital in showing what can be replicated elsewhere.