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UN anti-corruption head says rule of law needed to achieve UN 'millennium goals'

[JURIST] The rule of law is a necessary prerequisite to achieving all eight of the UN's anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) [official website; official backgrounder], UN Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa [official profile] said in an address [text; press release] Monday at the opening of the 17th session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice [official website]. He went on to say:

Economic analysis has consistently shown the clear correlation between weak rule of law and weak socio-economic performance ... [I]n countries ravaged by crime and corruption, and where governments lost control of their land, the poor suffer the most, and the services provided to them get delayed, or never arrive. They - the so-called "bottom billion" - have no access to justice, health and education and face rising food prices: how can such countries meet the MDGs?

Poorly governed countries are the most vulnerable to crime, and pay the highest price in terms of erosion of social and human capital, loss of domestic savings, reduction of foreign investment, white-collar exodus, increased instability, and faltering democracy. Seen in this light, the rule of law takes on a whole new importance: when established, l'etat de droit can unleash the welfare potentials of nations. When it's lacking, underdevelopment perpetuates itself.

I invite this Commission to impart new momentum to its crime control work first, by contributing to the mid-term review of MDGs (scheduled at the General Assembly in September 2008) and second, by undertaking measures so as to facilitate the realization of the MDGs in the next half period (2008-2015).
Costa also noted several key MDG targets, including boosting anti-corruption and human rights projects in Africa, addressing the link between combating crime and improving economic growth in Central America, and fighting global terrorism.

The week-long session will primarily focus on fighting crimes and violence against women, especially in conflict zones. The UN News Centre has more.

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