Public lecture by UNDP Indonesia Country Director Christophe Bahuet on Access to Justice and Global Development Goals at University of Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh

Dec 1, 2015

Salutation 

 

- Professor Syamsul Rizal, the Dean of University Syiah Kuala

- Ibu Diani Sadiwati from BAPPENAS

- Professors and students

- Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, 

Let me first thank the University Syiah Kuala and its Dean for inviting me to speak today and be part of a panel with very distinguished members.

Let me also say how pleased and touched I am to make my first visit to Aceh as the fairly new Country Director of UNDP Indonesia, after about 3 months in the country. UNDP has a special relationship with Aceh, one which is deeply rooted in the event that shook Aceh about 11 years ago, with the support that the UN provided as much as it could to the people of Aceh first for disaster relief, then for recovery as well as peace building and development.   

This relationship between UNDP and Aceh continues today and I will talk abiuout it in a few minutes.

But let me first place this short lecture on development in the broader international context. It is interesting to do so because as we speak today, around 150 world leaders are gathered in Paris, trying to reach on a crucial agreement on climate change. 

As you will remember, the most recent milestone on global development took place two months ago, in September in New York at the Uheadquarters of the United Nations, where UN Member States agreed on a new development agenda with 17  sustainable development goals that the coutries of the world committed to. But those goals are not there to stay at the international level, rather they are now to be brought to country level and to local level. They are there to build on and intensify the development that has been happening at those levels, and that includes Aceh. 

The new global development agenda includes goals and targets that are related to povery reduction and related to governance. One goal, Goal 16, is about “build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels” 

This is very relevant to the work that UNDP has been doing here in Aceh, in particular our current work to promote access to justice. And since many of yuou here are law students, I would like to talk briefly about access to justice.

 

Why access to justice is important ? 

To answer this question, let me step back a little and look at the bigger picture.  UNDP is about human development and one of our main objectives is to eliminate poverty. Our experience has shown that within the fight against poverty, equal access to justice has an important role to play. How does this work? Imagine if you're a poor single mother of two, whose only financial saving has been siphoned off by some sort of pyramid scheme fraud. If she was deprived of her rights to get free legal assistance; if she wouldn’t be able to pursue the justice she deserves, then she and her families would be pushed further to extreme poverty, because not only she had lost the only financial security she had, she would also suffer from a great deal of stress, possible job losses. 

In Indonesia, at the policy level, UNDP supports the National Strategy on Access to justice (or known as the NSA2J, which focuses on the most disadvantaged and marginalized groups. In Aceh,  since 2007 UNDP has helped build customary justice mechanisms in partnership with the Customary Justice Council (MAA) and BAPPENAS. A UNDP project named SAJI has been instrumental in the setting up of the Customary Council in the province.  UNDP has trained over 4,000 adat leaders, 28% of whom are women, from 12 districts/municipalities on national legal system, human and women rights, effective mediation, and case handling, recording and reporting.  

Aceh has now become a good example of Adat Justice in Indonesia.  Last October, the provincial government of Central Sulawes formally gave its backing on the implementation of Adat Law.  I  understand the province has turned to Aceh for some of its best practices. Aceh Adat Council head Badruzzaman Ismail has also visited Central Sulawesi to share his expertise and experiences in the implementation of informal law.

This shows how work on access to justice in Aceh contributes not only to development here, but to development elsewhere in Indonesia. 

I would like to invite all those of you who have a specific interest in justice and law to learn more about our project and about the Adat Council in Aceh.

Let me end this small talk with a special address to students who are here. The United Nations has many times recognized the role and the power of the youth as actors of development and changes.  On this year’s celebration of the International Youth Day, UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon said 

“As leaders prepare to adopt a bold new vision for sustainable development, the engagement of youth is more valuable than ever. At this critical moment in history, I call on young people to demand and foster the dramatic progress so urgently needed in our world.”

This quote applies to you, to the young people of Aceh who will be building the Future they want, a better one for the people of Aceh, the people of Indonesia, and the people of the world.

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