Opening Ceremony of Research Wing, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Academy - Speech by Marc-André Franche, Country Director, UNDP in Pakistan

06 Mar 2013

Speech by Marc-André Franche, Country Director UNDP Pakistan

Honorable Chief Justice, Peshawar High Court, Mr. Justice Dost Mohammad Khan, Honorable Director General, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Judicial Academy, Mr. Hayat Ali Shah, Dignitaries, honorable guests, colleagues from Swiss Development Cooperation, the Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands in Pakistan, 

It gives me immense pleasure to be amongst you today. What is even more pleasurable and immensely satisfying is the objective for which we have gathered here. The gathering today is a testament that we accord highest priorities to the noble cause of making the rule of law supreme in the land of Pakistan.

Your Excellency, the Honorable Chief Justice, Before I proceed any further, please allow me to express my gratitude – on my own behalf and on behalf of my colleagues at the UNDP – for your immense support and guidance that the Strengthening Rule of Law in Malakand Programme has received from the Peshawar High Court, the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Judicial Academy, and the provincial and district judiciary as a whole. Your personal interest in the programme speaks volumes about your commitment to the cause of strengthening rule of law in the province and in the Malakand region, in particular. I also wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Government of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, for partnering with UNDP, through its financial and moral support for the SRLM programme. The provincial government and its departments including the Home, P&D, Local Government, Law, Police and Prosecution have made valuable contributions to the programme and myself and my team are grateful for your unwavering and continuous support.

It is further my pleasure to acknowledge and appreciate the support being extended to the SRLM programme by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Pakistan, the Swiss Development Cooperation, and the Embassy of the United States of America. In the same breath, it is my responsibility to ensure each one of you that the UNDP is making every effort possible to ensure that every penny of your contributions is well-spent, makes a difference on the ground, and brings about a positive change in the lives of the communities.

Honourable Director General, KPJA, Please allow me to say that you have taken an immensely important step by establishing the research Wing at the Academy. I was told that it is the First such initiative in the whole of Pakistan. My congratulations to you and your colleagues. As we all know, research enables us to make informed decisions, and informed decisions are the ones which countries need the most for making progress. I am sure that the Research Wing will add value to whatever we do in the rule of law sector and will help us develop a knowledgebase which will form the foundations of national peace and progress.

Excellencies, Promoting the rule of law at the national and international levels is at the heart of the United Nations’ mission. Establishing respect for the rule of law is fundamental to achieving a durable peace in the aftermath of conflict, to the effective protection of human rights, and to sustained economic progress and development. The principle that everyone – from the individual right up to the State itself – is accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, is a fundamental concept which drives much of the United Nations work.

The United Nations works to support a rule of law framework at the national level: a Constitution or its equivalent, as the highest law of the land; clear and consistent legal framework, and implementation thereof; strong institutions of justice, governance, security and human rights that are well structured, financed, trained and equipped; transitional justice processes and mechanisms; and a public and civil society that contributes to strengthening the rule of law and holding public officials and institutions accountable. These are the norms, policies, institutions and processes that form the core of a society in which individuals feel safe and secure, where disputes are settled peacefully and effective redress is available for harm suffered, and where all who violate the law, including the State itself, are held to account.

In this context, when one looks at the situation in Pakistan, one gets to realise that the cycle of injustice and increasing poverty is strongly interwoven and vulnerability has a direct nexus to lack of empowerment, lack of awareness and poverty. Lack of empowerment and awareness has negative consequences on rights and opportunities; inability to educate limits employment opportunities, forcing people to take low-wage jobs with poor conditions. Their lack of financial resources leads to inability of securing services from grievance redress forums – leading to being victims of injustice. In order to address this situation, the demand and supply of justice needs to be improved and bridged.

It is thus of utmost importance that a coordinated and complementary approach be adopted to make access to justice for the poor and vulnerable a reality. It was in this context, and with a commitment to remedy the situation, that the UNDP launched its rule of law programme in Pakistan, with a focus to raise awareness of the vulnerable to create and articulate demand for justice and simultaneously work with the supply side at all levels to make justice sector more responsive to the needs and demand of the poor and vulnerable. UNDP’s holistic programmatic approach in the sector seeks to promote an enabling environment, provide for institutional and capacity development, ensure effective and speedy delivery of justice and facilitate dispute resolution to be trusted, cheap and accessible.

During the recent years, UNDP has engaged in two programs falling within the realm of justice and rule of law, the SRLM – about which you are already aware and are a part of, and the Legal Empowerment of the Poor programme. Results thus far achieved by SRLM and LEP are encouraging and demonstrate positive impact. However, to harness greater impact in the sector, deeper, well-focused and consolidated interventions are imperative. Thus, to ensure high impact which will provide value for money UNDP’s focus in the justice sector will continue with deeper engagement in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - expanding beyond Malakand and then to FATA.

I am sure that UNDP will keep enjoying your support and commitment to achieve the objectives of the programme. If we wish to make a difference, the only way is “together”. Shukria