UN High-Level Meeting on Rule of Law

On Monday, September 24, 2012, the UN General Assembly held the first ever High-Level Meeting on the Rule of Law. The ILF welcomed this event as an opportunity for the world’s leaders to address the global crisis in indigent defense. In the lead up to the high-level meeting, the ILF encouraged States to focus attention on the need to develop effective strategies for delivering legal aid to poor persons accused of crimes.

States were invited to use the occasion to make pledges to promote the rule of law, and the ILF encouraged States to pledge to take steps to improve access to legal representation for indigent accused persons. It is most encouraging that a number of States recognized this critical need and committed to take concrete measures to improve criminal legal aid services, which protect the poor against arbitrary and prolonged detention, torture, coerced confessions, wrongful convictions, and other abuses.

To further raise awareness of this issue, as well as the new UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems, the ILF is co-hosting a high-level side event on access to legal aid in criminal justice systems with the Republic of South Africa and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The event will take place on Wednesday, September 26 at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Africa in New York from 8:15am-9:45am. Speaking at the event will be South Africa’s Minister of Justice and Constitution, the Honorable Jeffrey Radebe; the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Under-Secretary-General Yury Fedotov; Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergi Kapanadze; Judge President of the Labour Appeal Court of South Africa and Chairperson of Legal Aid South Africa, the Honorable Dunstan Mlambo; and the ILF’s executive director Natalie Rea. The Honorable Tony West, Acting Associate Attorney General for the United States will give the keynote address and Stephen Mathias, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs will moderate.

For more information, see the linked invitation and concept note.

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