It is now widely recognized that the advancement of the rule of law is essential to the maintenance of peace and security, the realization of sustainable development, and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Rule of law assistance is a growing area of demand and significant experience has been accumulated in this field over the past 20 years. Yet, despite the centrality of the rule of law to our challenging global agenda, rule of law assistance is still too often executed in an ad hoc manner, designed without proper consultations with national stakeholders, and absent exacting standards of evaluation. A new perspective on rule of law assistance delivery is clearly needed.
The United Nations hosted a consultative process in New York resulting in this report, entitled New Voices: National Perspectives on Rule of Law Assistance. Sixteen national rule of law experts engaged in rule of law reform in 13 countries and regions, joined representatives from the United Nations system and partner countries to offer their respective views on how rule of law assistance can be better channeled to deliver results. The overall aim is to enhance dialogue between rule of law assistance providers and rule of law reformers in countries with a view to placing national perspectives at the centre of rule of law assistance.
This report outlines the following set of recommendations, corresponding to four major common conclusions which emerged from the consultative process. The national experts widely agreed that rule of law assistance is enhanced where: 1) national actors experience greater ownership over rule of law programmes; 2) local stakeholders are empowered; 3) assistance is coordinated and coherent; and 4) meaningful evaluations and assessment of impact are conducted. These common conclusions are based on the personal views and experiences of the national experts with rule of law assistance as articulated in the Voices section of this report.
It is hoped that the common conclusions and recommendations formulated by this informal forum of experts will serve as an important turning point towards a more effective approach to rule of law assistance. A clear call emerged for national rule of law policy-makers and experts and donor partners to come together to develop an internationally-recognized framework guiding rule of law assistance.