On 7 March, RWI organised an Ancillary Meeting at the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which was being conducted online and in Kyoto, Japan, from 7-12 March. The aim of the meeting was to take stock of developments since the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners were updated in 2015 and named the Nelson Mandela Rules.
The United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice has been held every five years since 1955, and is considered the world’s largest and most diverse gathering of policy-makers, practitioners, academia, intergovernmental organizations and civil society in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice. Organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the 14th Congress was originally planned to be held during April 2020, but postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With ongoing restrictions, the Congress proceeded in a hybrid model, with the majority of participants – including RWI’s own delegation – joining through a customised online platform.
A central achievement of the first Congress in 1955 was the adoption of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which served for the next 60 years as the cornerstone of the international human rights framework for detainees.
In 2010, an intergovernmental expert group was established to review the standards so that they reflected advances in correctional sciences and best practices. Adopted in 2015, the revised standards were named the Nelson Mandela Rules in honour of Mandela and recognition of South Africa’s support to the revision process.
As part of RWI’s contribution to the ongoing development of international norms and standards for criminal justice, the Institute organised an Ancillary Meeting on the new Rules at the 14th Congress, together with colleagues from the Institutes of the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme Network (PNI).
At the meeting, some of those who have sought to interpret, integrate and implement the revised standards took stock of initiatives, achievements and challenges to date, including in the areas of legal integration, practical implementation, training and monitoring, and suggested ways forward in further increasing respect for human rights within correctional services.
The meeting featured speakers from RWI, the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) and the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFEI).
A subsequent Workshop organised by UNAFEI at the Congress further elaborated proposals for the development of new UN standards on the reduction of reoffending, and relevant to the work of actors across the criminal justice system.
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Josh is Head of the Thematic Area ‘Access to Justice’.
He previously served as the Director of the RWI Regional Office in Nairobi and before that as Director of the Institute’s Office in Jakarta. Prior to working for RWI, he worked for organisations including the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights.