Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the High Level Event on "Contribution of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Post-2015 Development Agenda" (9 June 2014)

At the United Nations there is a strong normative consensus on a correlation between human rights, the rule of law and economic growth and development.

Contemporary economic theory, supported by empirical evidence, also endorses the conclusion that human rights and the rule of law, supported by strong institutions, influence economic growth, market vitality and equitable distribution of wealth.

This norm has been further reinforced by the lessons learned in the aftermath of the Asian Financial Crisis, the unraveling of the Washington Consensus and the weak progress towards the achievement on the MDGs in many developing countries.

The rule of law covers protection of human rights, good governance, checks and balances within governments, security of property, enforcement of contracts, transparency and accountability, and anti-corruption measures. In this context, close attention to equitable distribution of natural resources, a sustainable ecosystem, gender parity, inclusion, and political participation is critical.

Economic and social rights such as the rights to education, enjoyment of physical and mental health, water and sanitation, and decent livelihoods are all parts of the emerging fabric of the post-2015 Development Agenda.

There is a direct link between the post 2015 development agenda and the right to development.

In this context three lurking concerns regarding the linage between the rule of law and SDGs need to be assuaged. These are (i) invocation of the rule of law by the IFIs as an additional condition for economic and social assistance; (ii) it would be used as tool for interference in internal affairs of states; and (iii) it might weaken the quest for international rule of law. The answers to these questions are: no additional conditionality, no infringement of national sovereignty, national ownership of the rule of law initiatives, and shaping a fair international rule of law including equitable regimes for trade and intellectual property rights.

Human rights and the rule of law are critical enablers for attainment of the sustainable development goals. The rule of law should have a specific goal, supported by concrete and measurable targets and indicators.

The purpose is to facilitate and ensure easy access to inexpensive justice institutions, effective prosecution systems, reduction of the duration of decisions on criminal and civil cases, elimination of corruption, and securing legal identities for citizens. The full ambit of the rule of law should cover rights to land and property, legal rights and services, and the rights to monitor essential services such as health care, water and education.

Many developing countries will need help with institution building, as well as capacity building, in regard to the rule of law.

Instead of a top-down approach, we should bolster a peoples-driven approach. National indicators, and the precise criteria and matrices supporting them, should be developed in close consultation with national stakeholders.

We are glad that specific goals and targets related to the rule of law have been included in the Zero Draft of the proposed SDGs. We have yet to go some distance.

The Government of Pakistan, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is committed to constitutionalism, the rule of law and protection and preservation of human rights in the country. The discipline of a state, the Prime Minister has emphasized, is a product of its Constitution and is exercised through fearless implementation of its laws while ensuring the fundamental principles of equality, equal treatment and due process. In pursuing this agenda , the Government is making efforts to provide speedy and inexpensive justice, to promote a culture of accountability in the entire system, and to eliminate corruption. The overall strategy to promote human rights and the rule of law includes its other equally important cluster - reducing poverty, creating jobs and accelerating economic development.