Opening Statement by Ambassador Friedrich Däuble at the High Level Event on Nelson Mandela’s Centenary, 15 May 2018
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends of the Nelson Mandela Rules,
It is a great pleasure and honour for me to welcome you today alongside my distinguished South African colleague to the High‑Level Event on the Centenary of Nelson Mandela and Acceleration of the Practical Application of the Nelson Mandela Rules. I would like to express my appreciation to the South African Government for taking the initiative on this event in honour of Nelson Mandela, whose legacy lives on in the Rules carrying his name, and to convey my gratitude to UNODC for organising this event!
I am particularly pleased that we are honored by the presence today by the HE Mr Andrea Orlando, Minister of Justice of the Italian Republic, who will address this meeting and of HE Mr. Vitaya Suriyawong Deputiy Permanent Secretary of Justice of the Kingdom of Thailand.
But first and really a great privilege I have the pleasure to warmly welcome the guest of honor of today's event, former Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa, Dikgang Moseneke, who at the age of fifteen was arrested for anti‑apartheid activities and imprisoned for ten years on Robben Island, where he was a companion of Nelson Mandela. Mr Moseneke later became one of the leading figures in the South African judiciary and will share with us today his personal experiences with Nelson Mandela, his own prison experiences, and how he sees them reflected in the Nelson Mandela Rules. I am very grateful for his participation in our meeting and look forward to his contribution.
I also warmly welcome the representatives of UNODC and thank them for co-organizing this event. I am pleased to announce that in the course of our meeting we will receive an overwiew by Mrs Valerie Lebaux and Mr. Philipp Meissner of UNODC.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Nelson Mandela Rules have considerably improved the standards set by the United Nations for the treatment of prisoners. They reflect the minimum requirements to be met by a humane prison system today. Reaching universal consensus on the Rules was a major achievement. It is now of great importance to ensure their application in all Member States of the United Nations. To this end, the rules must be made known worldwide and, where necessary, transposed into national law in order to guarantee the standards they set for all persons deprived of their liberty. One of the main purposes of our Group of Friends is to maintain the momentum generated by the adoption of the Rules and to take this process forward, including as the main support vehicle for technical assistance by UNODC under its global programme for addressing prison challenges.
I am pleased to say that Germany has contributed to this process by funding various UNODC technical assistance activities on the Nelson Mandela Rules, including guidance material to assist correction authorities with the application of the Rules and on the management of high‑risk offenders.
It is to be hoped that these activities will be complemented by action by other Members States in order to ensure the worldwide dissemination and implementation of the Rules and the right balance between the exigencies of safeguarding societies and protecting the human rights of prisoners worldwide.
In this context, I am pleased to note that UNODC has recently developed a very interesting project proposal on fostering the practical application of the Nelson Mandela Rules under its Global Programme on Addressing Prison Challenges. It includes inter alia strengthening legislative reform efforts, as well as providing training for prison staff and working to improve the reputation of their profession. In order to facilitate legislative work, the development of a legislative resource guide on the Nelson Mandela Rules, focusing on prison laws and regulations, has been suggested. This would provide elements that should be included in national legislation in order to meet the requirements of the Rules.
The project relating to the image of prison staff would include the production of documentary material in order to raise public awareness of the nature and social value of their work.
These projects concern very important areas in our tasks and deserve our Group’s full support in order to promote humane prison conditions and to show appreciation for the work of the prison staff at the frontline of all efforts to improve prison conditions worldwide.