Impact by Regions, Countries & Territories
UNDP’s Global Programme supports crisis-affected contexts across all regions to strengthen the rule of law and human rights. In this section, we present five regional overviews, detailing our priorities and approach depending on the context, as well as feature select country and territory results from 2021.
Five contexts from the list (Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Mali and Yemen) illustrate the achievements of the Global Focal Point for the Rule of Law (GFP). In peacekeeping missions and transition settings, UNDP’s Global Programme works through the GFP to deliver integrated assistance with our UN partners.
GFP Global Focal Point Highlights
The rule of law is essential for sustainable peace and resilient economies, as well as for the prevention or recurrence of conflict. To prevent or address injustice, inequalities or democratic deficits, UNDP works with multiple stakeholders to operate in a way that is consistent with the rule of law and creates opportunities for all individuals to exercise their rights and access justice.
The importance of strong institutions is more evident than ever as countries and communities respond to disruption, whether because of public health restrictions, climate change or political upheaval. Limitations on public gatherings and travel have revealed the need for institutions that are resilient to disruption.
2021 was a pivotal year that saw various developments affecting peace and security around the world. Civic space continued to shrink and the social contract between states and citizens was increasingly challenged, particularly during and after the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing distressing consequences of climate change, states and communities are forced to manage more cross-border conflicts, triggered by the displacement of people seeking increasingly scarce resources.
The scope of human rights challenges is widening, from eroded public trust and shrinking civic space to ongoing inequality and human rights impacts in the socio-economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, and emerging risks in the digital sphere. National human rights institutions (NHRIs), along with other human rights defenders, are facing rising and sophisticated forms of reprisals for carrying out their work.
Sustainable Development Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) of the 2030 Agenda highlights the importance of access to justice for all for the development of peaceful and inclusive societies. Meaningful access to justice can only be achieved when people know their rights, have the opportunities, agency and capacities to claim them, and have access to independent, inclusive and people-centred justice systems that will respond in a timely, fair and effective manner.
Without justice, there can be no lasting peace. In post-conflict, crisis-affected and fragile contexts, truth-seeking initiatives and reconciliation efforts are essential to bring peace to affected communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down transitional processes as states prioritized their response to the health crisis and measures to support the economy.
In 2021, the continued erosion of democracy and the spread of authoritarian trends in politics in many parts of the world contributed to a backlash against women’s rights. The COVID-19 crisis has reversed some of the hard-won gender parity gains by exacerbating pre-existing inequalities and power imbalances. It has also caused a dramatic increase in sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). All these challenges have been particularly acute in conflict, fragile and crisis-affected settings.
New ideas and new strategies are critical to building sustainable and effective development approaches that really meet people’s needs. Technologies and globalization raise new human rights concerns and threaten the rule of law. Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to limit people’s access to basic services. UNDP connected expertise across the globe to learn and adapt. Creating a culture of curiosity and experimentation, these efforts ensured that local needs and expertise were combined with emerging models to bring strategic thinking to people-centred development goals.
- Arab States
- Europe & Central Asia
- Latin America &
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), UNDP-supported the Regional War Crimes Project (RWC Project), improved analytical capacities and cross-sectoral cooperation between prosecutors and investigators. Among Balkan countries, BiH is the one with the largest backlog of war crimes cases and the highest number of missing persons. UNDP facilitated training for 120 investigators (46 women and 74 men) from police and prosecutors’ offices and agencies mandated to search for missing persons. The strengthened capacities of the investigators was one of the factors that led to generating more evidence in war crimes trials, exhumations and locating a new mass grave in the country. In 2021, the number of indictments in war crimes cases increased by 31 percent compared to the 2020 data: 21 indictments were issued against 56 persons accused of war crimes.
Investigators of law enforcement agencies in BiH, 28 women and 42 men, were trained on investigating crimes of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), including, for the first time, investigating cases of CRSV against men. Overall, the implemented activities ensured that victims of war crimes were not left behind. Due to UNDP’s cooperation with and support to civil society organizations (CSOs), survivors received psychosocial support and were empowered to advocate for their rights and hold domestic authorities accountable. At least two new investigations were opened for previously unprocessed war crimes following the UNDP-supported campaign “Forgotten Victims" initiated by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).
In 2022, the Customs Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina will establish its gender network, the first one in a government institution, to address discrimination and ensure women’s meaningful participation in the customs sector. The decision emerged after the three workshops that UNDP organized in 2021 for 70 staff members of the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA), a customs agency in BiH, in consultations with the Network of Female Police Officials in BiH, BiH Agency from Gender Equality and the Ministry of Security. Though women comprise over 40 percent of the total number of ITA employees, the issues of gender-based discrimination had not been explored and addressed in the agency. Challenges were mapped and solutions proposed during the workshops, identifying entry points for action.
Through the joint UNDP and OHCHR project “Supporting the Integration of Data on Human Rights Reporting into SDG Planning Frameworks in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, national authorities in BiH were provided with a gap analysis and a detailed roadmap to improve human rights data collection and reporting. Recommendations were made towards improving submission of national reports to the UN human rights mechanisms, to regional entities, such as Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), European Union, as well as reports on SDGs implementation. Additionally, a strong partnership was developed between SDG Council in BiH, Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees, National Human Rights Institution and CSOs to cross-check sources and add new SDG indicators to the upcoming 2023 Voluntary National Report.
To introduce alternatives to imprisonment in the Republika Srpska Entity, UNDP accomplished a comprehensive needs assessment exercise. The assessment outlined the required legislative changes, analysed best practices from other countries, summarized related ethical and professional standards, and presented structural and operational policies and procedures necessary to implement those changes.
Key Results: Bosnia and Herzegovina
The number of indictments in war crimes cases increased by 31 % compared to the 2020 data: 21 indictments were issued against 56 persons accused of war crimes.
120 investigators of war crimes benefitted from UNDP-supported training. This helped generate more evidence in war crimes trials, locate one new mass grave, complete 76 exhumations and identify 71 missing persons.
Over 90 cases of war crimes (on different stages of cases management) were closed, reviewed or processed through the UNDP-supported system of cross-border cooperation, case transfer or evidence-sharing between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia.
The Regional War Crimes project supported two civil society organizations to help victims, including CRSV survivors, to report crimes to the prosecutors’ offices and get access to justice, remedy and social services. Two new war crimes investigations were opened. 24 survivors (17 women and seven men) who had experienced war trauma received psychosocial support and legal aid.