Organisation Internationale de Droit du Développement

55th Session of the Human Rights Council

Statement by the Director-General, Ms Jan Beagle

High-Level Segment

Geneva, 26th February 2024

Mr. President, Excellencies, Colleagues,

It is a privilege to speak to you today on behalf of the International Development Law Organization.

Many speakers have highlighted the extraordinary risks posed by the perfect storm of intersecting crises that we are living through.

There is ample evidence that the causes, and effects, of these challenges – whether we talk about conflict, climate change or the crisis of confidence in public institutions - are deeply rooted in issues of justice and human rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by the survivors of the most turbulent and destructive period of the 20th Century.

The Declaration recognizes that human rights must be protected by the rule of law and warns of severe consequences if this does not happen.

Recent events are proof that we ignore that warning at our own peril.

We see the most severe violations of human rights where the rule of law is weak or disregarded.

Major violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and especially failure to protect civilians, are becoming a shockingly regular feature of modern conflict.

We see this right now in multiple contexts in all regions, including in Gaza and the West Bank, Haiti, Myanmar, Sudan and Ukraine.

Drawing on IDLO’s 40 years of experience partnering with people and governments in all regions, I would like to share some thoughts on why strengthening the relationship between human rights and the rule of law is critical.

First, the rule of law is key to restoring public trust.

It helps ensure fairness, accountability, and transparency, giving people confidence that institutions are working in the interest of all rather than a privileged few.

People-centred justice systems protect the rights of the least powerful, and empower them to participate in decision-making.

The inclusion of youth, and other historically excluded groups, is essential for the whole of society approaches needed to tackle complex and interlinked crises.

The empowerment of women and girls, in particular, is central.

Second, the rule of law can help to accelerate progress on the social and economic rights that are high on people’s minds.

Eleanor Roosevelt said that human rights begin in “small places, close to home” and that “[u]nless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.”

We are seeing the opposite happen right now.

Global surveys have found that while strong majorities value human rights, very few feel that they are relevant to their own lives.

Rights to food, housing, education, health, and social security are frequently cited as high priorities.

Failure to realize them, generates discontent which creates fertile conditions for the rise of authoritarianism, vilification of minorities and displaced people, closing of civic space, and the undermining of the rule of law.

In this context, the 2030 Agenda, remains our best, shared blueprint for peace and prosperity.

Human rights and the rule of law are both outcomes and enablers of the SDGs.

The principles of inclusion, equity, and non-discrimination are incorporated throughout the Agenda.

Effective laws and accessible and accountable institutions are needed for the full spectrum of development.

Finally, the rule of law is needed to address complex, transnational challenges that pose significant obstacles to peace and sustainable development.

The rule of law at the international level, as enshrined in the UN Charter, guarantees the sovereign equality of Member States and is the bedrock of the multilateral system.

Preserving it requires all countries to walk the talk and reflect respect for international law, including international humanitarian law and the responsibility to protect civilians, in their actions.

We also need rule of law-based solutions to deal with shared concerns like climate change, or the regulation of frontier technologies such as Artificial intelligence.

They require fair and efficient mechanisms that incentivize concerted global action, while balancing the needs of the present with the interests of future generations.

In conclusion, if we are to succeed in overcoming today’s challenges, and protecting human rights, we must do better to improve the lives of people everywhere.

Strengthening the rule of law, at national and international levels, is one of the best investments we can make in our collective future.

IDLO looks forward to working with you to make it a reality.

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