Princess promotes rule of law at Bangkok Dialogue

1Development without justice and the rule of law is unsustainable and so both should be part of the post-2015 United Nations Development Agenda, a member of Thailand’s royal family urged global representatives at the Bangkok Dialogue, an international conference on development and the rule of law held in the Thai capital in mid-November.

“Money from the illegal economy can infiltrate state institutions and lead to severe corruption. This impedes sustainable development and diverts resources from poverty reduction and delivery of public services,” Princess Bajrakittiyabha Mahidol said during her keynote speech at the one-day conference.

Thailand’s royal family has been described as “working royals” by some international media because many of its members are engaged in development work or other public service. Princess Bajrakittiyabha, daughter of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, serves as Thailand’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Vienna.

The Bangkok Dialogue on the Rule of Law brought together world leaders and international experts to discuss how the role of fair and equitable justice systems can help protect and advance sustainable development for the benefit of all people. The Dialogue was hosted by the Thailand Institute of Justice in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Thailand’s Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs.

Those attending included Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, UNODC Director Yury Fedotov, Prime Minister of Bhutan Thsering Tobgay, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Former East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta, Former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, and Harvard Law Professor David Kennedy, among many others.

The Princess was, however, the driving force behind the conference. Holding a doctorate from Cornell Law School in New York State, she has been a strong advocate in recent years for fair treatment of women prisoners, and for including the rule of law in the United Nations post-2015 development agenda.

“I strongly believe that development that excludes the rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice is far from being sustainable. How can we be truly sustainable when inequality continues to create social tensions? When large segments of the population are still barred from accessing justice?” the princess said.

Her sentiments were echoed by the UNODC’s Fedotov who said “Weak rule of law and lack of good governance pose a major threat to social and economic development the world over, and they have hindered progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals. Effective and humane justice systems and institutions are fundamental to building societies that facilitate growth and development.”

The speeches were followed by high-level panel discussions involving political leaders, academics and civil society leaders. The Dialogue aims to build momentum and contribute ideas and actions towards the deliberations of the post-2015 development agenda and ongoing review of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.



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