2 November 2018, 09:00, National Library, Dushanbe
Your Excellency Mr. Shohmurod Rustam, Minister of Justice of Tajikistan,
Your Excellency Mr. Shermuhammad Shohiyon, Chairman of the Supreme Court
Honorable Mr Alizoda Zarif Ombudsperson,
Madam Habibulozoda Rajabmo, Child Ombudsman
Your Excellency Mr. Urs Schmid, Ambassador of Switzerland to Kazakhstan and Tajikistan,
Ladies and Gentlemen
The Annual Rule of Law Forum in Tajikistan has become a good tradition and UNDP is very honored to support this tradition which promotes dialogue among state institutions, Civil Society Organizations, academia, private sector and international organizations on achievements, challenge and actions required to strengthen just, peaceful and inclusive society.
The Forum, since its establishment in Nov 2015, has also evolved from a platform for justice sector institutions and CSOs to now also including academia and private sector who play a very critical role in research and advancing rule of law in business sector.
The Rule of Law forum was established just after the adoption of the SDGs in September 2015. Since then, Government of Tajikistan has taken several steps to mainstream SDGs in the National Development Strategy 2030 and aligning to sectoral strategies. The government has also presented its first voluntary review report on SDGs to the High Level Political Forum under ECOSOC in New York and produced and presented the 1st National progress report on NDS based on SDGs in July 2018 in the National Development Council under the President of Tajikistan. While highlighting many achievements, the National NDS based on SDGs report clearly highlighted lack of data as a main concern in monitoring and reporting progress.
With regards to SDG 16, there are 23 indicators to measure progress on SDG16 to promote rule- based governance, equal access to justice by all, significant reduction in all forms of abuse and violence, including sexual abuse and domestic violence, substantial reduction in corruption and bribery, universal birth registration, ensure responsive and participatory decision making at all levels are some of the indicators. Many of SDG16 indicators are also UPR recommendations of the Human Rights Council and included in the recently adopted UPR action plan for implementation.
Tajikistan has adopted a number of policies to help advance SDG 16 such as reforms to strengthen Judiciary, concept on universal Legal Aid and commitment to soon adopt law on legal aid, Civil Registration, domestic violence law, women equal right to land and property, etc. but much more needs to be done on reforms and enforcement of laws to meet the SDG16 by 2030 and ability to measure progress. Currently for SDG16, data is available only for 5 out of the 23 indicators, lot of work is needed to ensure quality data for all the indicators. While Ministry of Justice is the key Ministry for SDG16, not all the 23 indicators can be met by the Ministry of Justice. We strongly recommend establishment of an inter-ministerial committee on SDG 16 to ensure integrated and coordinated implementation and monitoring.
However, it is important to acknowledge that unlike many other SDG themes, SDG 16, which is mainly about improving rule- based governance, is a fairly new domain in official statistics with few international standards defining its measurement. Unlike many other SDGs like health, education, etc. where some sort of monitoring is in place, for SDG16, States will have to put a system in place to produce official data, which will require forming new partnerships with CSOs, private sector to help in production of governance data. To support knowledge sharing, UN has set up a global alliance for reporting progress on SDG 16 to help Member States, CSOs, private sector to pioneer new collaborative approach to monitor SDG 16, first meeting of this alliance was convened by UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre and Tajikistan was an active participate. We strongly encourage Tajikistan to continue engaging with the global alliance to benefit from global knowledge and to share Tajikistan’s experiences.
In the past three years, the Rule of Law Forum has successfully demonstrated its potential to bring multi-stakeholders around the table on various rule of law related issues at national and sub-national level. But as mentioned before, the Forum was established just after the adoption of SDG agenda. Since then Tajikistan has made progress on mainstreaming SDGs and is committed to reporting progress on all SDGs. The Forum can now become a platform to discuss SDG16 and the related targets and indicators can serve as the framework to prioritize topics for dialogue and action. For example, the forum can review how to advance reforms to meet all the indicators under SDG 16; how to localize SDG16 indicators and improve data collection and monitoring, the Forum can also serve as a platform to promote partnership and innovations to improve access to justice and meet SDG16 indicators.
UNDP stands ready to work with all partners to support the efforts of the Government, including the Ministry of Justice, the Office of Ombudsperson, the Supreme Court, security sector institutions and the CSOs in advancing achievement of SDG16.
Using this opportunity, I would like to thank the Government of Switzerland, which is also celebrating 20 years of its development cooperation in Tajikistan, government of Finland and Norway for continued long-term financial assistance to UNDP’s Rule of Law Project to strengthen national capacity to uphold rule of law and ensure access to justice for all and commend the government, in particular the Ministry of Justice, for convening Rule of Law Forum and creating a platform for dialogue at national and local level on actions to ensure rule of law for peaceful, just and inclusive society.
I wish you all productive dialogue and successful 4th Rule of Law Forum.