‘The Tunisia test’: UN expert calls for clear goals on access to justice in the post-2015 development agenda

NEW YORK / GENEVA (28 October 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on transitional justice, Pablo de Greiff, warned that “unaddressed human rights violations are spoilers of sustainable development,” and urged the UN and its Member States to incorporate goals on access to justice and remedy in the post-2015 development framework.

“A limited and narrow approach to development, which ignores justice considerations, will not be human nor is it sustainable,” the expert stressed during the presentation of his first report* to the UN General Assembly in New York. “Access to justice and remedies must be part of any serious agenda for development.”

Mr. de Greiff recalled that pre-revolutionary Tunisia was hailed as a success story in terms of fulfilment of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “The framing of post-2015 development goals should not lead again to a situation in which people in the countries that ‘achieve’ these goals still feel they should risk everything in search of fundamental change,” he said.

“People in Tunisia and elsewhere did not need any help to know that well-being certainly includes economic opportunities and social progress – but also basic personal security, decent governance and access to justice,” the Special Rapporteur noted.

In his report, the human rights expert suggests applying the “Tunisia test” to the new post-2015 framework: goals and indicators established should not foster the appearance of a development success story in societies where development is self-evidently undermined by large-scale deficits in security, justice and rights.

“Justice and development are far too often considered as different and independent goals. We cannot have a situation where development funding is available to build schools, but not to ensure that children can travel safely to school,” said the Special Rapporteur said.

Mr. de Greiff also encouraged development agents to reflect in their programming and practice justice and rights-related concerns. “Justice, security, and development are linked to one another,” he said, calling on actors to cooperate more effectively at the political level and in practice.

Pablo de Greiff (Colombia) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence. He is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. de Greiff has extensive professional and academic expertise on transitional justice issues, including on the four measures under this mandate (truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence).
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(*) Read the full report by the Special Rapporteur: http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=A/68/345

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