Peace and Justice in a global development agenda beyond 2015

“Although the formulation of our national priorities for the post-2015 global agenda are only now intensifying – it is safe to note already now that the elements of human rights based approach will be reflected”, said minister Hautala at the seminar on Peace and Justice in a global development agenda beyond 2015 in Helsinki on 27 February 2013. [:]


Dear friends,

I am glad to welcome you all to this seminar on “Peace and Justice in a global development agenda beyond 2015”. In particular, I am pleased to welcome director David Tolbert and his colleagues Lesley Bournsin and Skip Mooneyfrom The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). The Finnish Foreign Ministry has had a long and fruitful cooperation with the ICTJ in the field of post-conflict transitional justice processes. This cooperation, I believe, has helped to advance understanding and good practices on the inter-linkages of peace and justice.

Peace and justice are not contradictory factors but indeed interrelated. Human rights violations and injustice in a society are often an important part of the root causes of conflicts and hence, inevitably also a part of the solution. In order to reach a durable peace human rights violations and abuses carried out during the conflict need to be addressed effectively and impartially. Otherwise the peace remains fragile and conflict may escalate easily again. Moreover, legal institutions – which belong to the core institutions of any country – can only enjoy legitimacy and trust of all people if they are impartial protectors of justice and human rights, non-discriminately regardless of the status of the parties involved. One of the essential prerequisites of a durable peace is that there is no room for impunity but access to justice is ensured even to the most vulnerable groups of the society.

The inter-relatedness of peace and justice is not a new phenomenon but recent studies, conferences and discussions have enhanced international community’s understanding on the issue even further. One important study was the World Bank’s Development Report in 2011 which underlined the centrality of security, justice and jobs as foundation of sustainable peace and state-building efforts.

State-building requires long-term vision and commitment. A new approach to the development of fragile states – the so called “New Deal” – was agreed at a high level in the Busan aid effectiveness meeting. It aims to stop conflicts, build nations and end poverty. It puts the voice of fragile states and their people at the heart of peace building and state building efforts, with the support of international partners. The core of the actions agreed in Busan is formed by issues such as security, justice, civil society, human rights and democratic governance.

I would also like to mention the United Nations High Level Meeting on the Rule of Law held last autumn in New York. The Declaration adopted by the High Level Meeting emphasized the importance of the rule of law as one of the key elements in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace-building. It also stressed that justice, including transitional justice, is a fundamental building block of sustainable peace in countries in conflict and post-conflict situations.

The High Level Meeting also concluded that the rule of law and development are strongly interrelated and mutually reinforcing. For this reason, the meeting Declaration stated that this interrelationship should be considered in the post-2015 international development agenda.

At the High Level Meeting Finland in particular emphasized women’s rule of law challenges. The equal access to justice for women is not only a central human rights issue but also a substantial development issue. Everyday problems related to women’s inheritance rights, land rights, and lacking access to birth and other registration hinder women’s opportunities and keep them in poverty. The side-event on Women’s Access to Justice organized by Finland together with UN WOMEN and South-Africa during the High Level Meeting highlighted this topic as an integral component of international efforts to promote and advance the Rule of Law.

Violence against women is a vast human rights violation that often remains without addressing or investigating due to non-adequate legal institutions, lack of information of their own rights by women – and in some cases also due to traditional views in societies considering violence against women as a domestic issue and a tabu. Moreover, Millennium Development Goals – with all their merits- have failed to sufficiently address violence against women. Interpersonal and gender based violence should be more strongly addressed in a future development agenda.

Post-2015 global development agenda is very much present in current discussions worldwide. In Finland the consultation process on our own priorities is underway. Many actors including the civil society have already shown a great interest in the post-2015 process and the consultation aims to be very open and inclusive. We very much look forward to hearing our guest speaker’s views on this topic.

In relation to the global post-2015 preparations, the UN System Task Team called in its report for a more rights-based, inclusive, people-centered and sustainable post -2015 development agenda. It also recommended to include peace and security as a fourth dimension on the agenda, together with sustainable and inclusive social, economic and environmental development. Finland supports this proposal. The High Level Panel, appointed by the Secretary General, is expected to provide a comprehensive vision and direction for the post-2015 development agenda by May, which will further guide the discussions of the UN General Assembly in September.

As part of the UN-led global and bottom-up Post-2015 consultation process, Finland is funding one of the eleven thematic consultations, that of ‘Conflict, Violence and Disaster’. This consultation process includes regional meetings in Indonesia, Liberia and Panama and will culminate in a high level meeting in Helsinki in 13th of March. The meeting will present and discuss the findings of the regional meetings on how peace and security related concerns could be reflected in the post-2015 development framework.

Why to focus on this particular theme? We regard the fragility as a crucial task – but not an easy one to tackle with. Fragile states and violent conflicts create huge challenges for development. Over 1,5 billion people live in countries that suffer violent conflicts or constant political and criminal violence. This causes immense human suffering, distress and insecurity. Criminal violence erodes peace process. Weak institutions that lack legitimacy are unable to generate security, justice and economic development. The environment suffers, education suffers, the most basic health care cannot be provided, child mortality increases, women do not get their voices heard and so on. In this kind of conditions, it is very difficult to focus on long term development challenges and goals.

Addressing fragility is one of the elements included in Finland’s Development Policy Programme. This Programme puts an emphasis on the human rights-based approach as a key factor in all development policy and cooperation. A state based on human rights, the rule of law, democracy and good governance is one that responds to the needs of its populations and addresses disputes without violence.

Although the formulation of our national priorities for the post-2015 global agenda are only now intensifying – it is safe to note already now that the elements of human rights based approach will be reflected.

To conclude, I would like to provide you with some examples of our concrete support and funding in the field of peace and justice.

The support to the national authorities and institutions to strengthen their observance and promotion of human rights can be channeled for example through supporting the work of national human rights commissions and other human rights monitoring bodies. Finland is supporting the national human rights commissions for instance in Afghanistan, Nepal and Kenya.

Finland is a firm supporter of UNSCR 1325 and we actively promote resolution 1325 in development and twinning co-operation, for example with Kenya, Nepal and Afghanistan. In our experience, working with developing country partners has given us the opportunity to better understand the challenges of the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on the ground, in at times, very fragile situations. We highly value the mutual learning that these cooperation processes bring about. The importance of women’s role has also been recognized in Finland’s Action Plan on Mediation. The full and effective participation of women and men alike enhances legitimacy of peace processes and the prospect of a durable and lasting peace.

In Afghanistan Finland is also supporting the better functioning and more responsive and accountable police institution by financing the UNDP’s Law and Order Trust Fund. We have had a bilateral programme with Afghanistan to strengthen better cooperation and coordination of the Afghan police and attorney general’s office in investigating cases.

In the field of legislative processes Finland has supported the constitution building process in Nepal [through providing advice through an organisation called International Idea]. It is always important to remember that ownership in these processes remains with the country itself, with the state and civil society because these are national processes.

Another kind of example of our support to tackle impunity and enhance national investigation and prosecution capacities is our work in Guatemala. Finland has been supporting work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) since 2007.

Finland is supporting an Access to Justice Programme in Central Asia with the main focus on poor rural women, children at risk and persons with disabilities. The programme aims to strengthen people’s knowledge of their rights and local judicial authorities’ understanding and knowledge of the legal problems these groups are facing.

Smaller projects are implemented by supporting NGOs’ and INGOs’ projects in developing countries. These projects vary greatly and they include strengthening gender justice, local level legal aid, legal awareness raising, access to land rights for marginalized groups such as indigenous peoples, education of judges and other legal professionals, as well as access to birth registration, and many others.

So the global development agenda beyond 2015 definitely belongs to our priorities. We are now keen on hearing the views of Mr. Tolbert on peace and justice aspects of this important topic.

Thank you for your attention!