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 &
The region continued to be shaped by complex governance and peace challenges. The lack of effective state responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the introduction of emergency laws and related rights restrictions, has weakened the rule of law and led to the overall decline in trust, revealing pre-existing fragility of the social contract and deepening inequalities in the region. The civic space in many countries and territories was constrained, partly due to the COVID-19 emergency measures, but also through legislative restrictions that targeted civic activism, media freedoms, and a range of civil rights, often under the pretext of fighting misinformation and hate speech. In a few countries1 the longstanding political grievances led to mass protests and large-scale arbitrary detentions by law enforcement agencies. These challenges were exacerbated by the impact of protracted conflicts and political crises in the region, highlighting the persistence of inter-ethnic, social, and political tensions.
Furthermore, the rising economic, social and gender inequalities contributed to massive outward migration. For example, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Moldova, Serbia, and Ukraine were among the ten fastest shrinking populations worldwide in 2021. In addition, the region continued to face the inflow of refugees and migrants, who, in some instances, were stranded at the borders without adequate access to shelters and essential services, and were not being allowed to seek asylum and other protection under international human rights law.2
Against this background, UNDP's primary focus was to strengthen cross-border and regional cooperation mechanisms that promote the rule of law, security and peacebuilding. For example, through its regional initiatives, UNDP continued addressing the legacies of the conflicts in the Western Balkans. In partnership with the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), UNDP supported cooperation among national prosecutors in enhancing their capacities in processing cases of war crimes. Its programming was also aimed at reducing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in partnership with the Regional Cooperation Council and the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC).
In 11 countries and territories in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, UNDP provided expert and technical support to align national capacities and frameworks with the international standards on human rights, the rule of law, security, and justice.
UNDP sustained its efforts to raise awareness of the governments, civil society, and private companies in the region on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). In 2021, UNDP co-organized the 2nd UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in collaboration with the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), UN Women, International Labour Organization (ILO), International Organization of Employers, and Global Business Initiative. Finally, UNDP launched the scoping study on the status of the implementation of the UNGPs in the region to be released in 2022.
- 1 United Nations Human Rights, Belarus: Massive human rights violations unprecedented in scope and gravity, says UN expert 5
July 2021; and Kazakhstan unrest: Bachelet urges peaceful resolution of grievances 6 January 2022.
- 2 Belarus and Poland: Stop sacrificing migrant lives to political dispute ̶ UN Special Rapporteurs