Delivered live, virtually, on May 20, 2021 by ILF Executive Director Jennifer Smith in connection with Agenda Item 9, “Follow-up to the Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Fifteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.”
Strengthening the International Legal Aid Network
As a leading global advocate for the right to quality legal aid services for everyone arrested or detained, the International Legal Foundation welcomes Member States’ commitment at the Kyoto Congress to ensure equal access to justice to the most vulnerable members of society.
The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened long-standing injustices and pushed to the forefront new challenges to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It has never been more clear that the right to quality legal aid is indispensable to upholding the rule of law and ensuring access to justice for all. We are heartened to see that the Kyoto Declaration reinforces this fundamental right by encouraging Member States to “take measures to ensure access to timely, effective, adequately resourced, and affordable legal aid,” and to promote “practical application” of the UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems. We were also reassured by the Kyoto Declaration’s recognition of the importance of “a specialized network of legal aid providers to exchange information and best practices and to assist each other” in providing quality legal aid services.
I urge you today to help us turn these words into action and commit to addressing the global crisis in access to quality legal aid services. Building on the momentum of Kyoto, and in light of the call to action issued by 800 participants from 89 countries at last year’s international legal aid conference, we call for your support for the International Legal Aid Network. The International Legal Aid Network has the potential to serve as a powerful platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration, enabling legal aid providers around the world to connect with and learn from each other.