IDLO has been a UN General Assembly observer since 2001, actively participating in UN debates and activities through its offices in New York and Geneva. In 2015, advocating for the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals was one of the main focal points of our engagement with the UN.

“IDLO, with its joint focus on the
rule of law and development, is in an unparalleled position to continue, as it has done in the past, to support other actors both at the international and national level on the action required to make the sustainable development goals realities.”
— Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly

We also engaged with a wide variety of stakeholders – governments, multilateral agencies, civil society, academia and the private sector – out of our Headquarters in Rome, our Branch Office in the Hague, and internationally. In May-June 2015, our Director-General, Irene Khan, met the President of Afghanistan and held high-level meetings in Pakistan. An IDLO- sponsored photo exhibition, focusing on the impact of the rule of law on everyday life in developing countries, was also put on display at UN buildings in Geneva and New York as well as prestigious locations in Rome and Milan.

In the course of the year, IDLO signed Memoranda of Understanding with several international, governmental and academic bodies. We also signed ad-hoc agreements that facilitated execution of our program activities. 

IDLO at the UN

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New York

IDLO’s Director-General participates in a UN High Level Event on integrating crime prevention and criminal justice in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The debate focuses on how to tackle social and economic challenges and promote sustainable development through strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice systems, norms and standards.


New York

IDLO co-hosts a roundtable – ‘Bringing Down the Barriers: Women, Business and the Rule of Law’ – on the margins of the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. For more information on this event, see page 100.

IDLO contributes to the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, highlighting that, in addition to adopting new laws and justice structures or amending old ones to bring about gender equality, focusing on women themselves as agents of change is key. In particular, legal empowerment strategies enable women to promote gender equality and their own empowerment.


 IDLO launches an international photography exhibition about justice, the rule of law and sustainable development titled ‘In Focus: Justice and the Post-2015 Agenda’, on the margins of the 28th session of the Human Rights Council. For more information on the exhibition, see page 96. 

 IDLO organizes a debate on the connection between the rights of persons with disabilities, the rule of law and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, with a review of advances, challenges and opportunities in 2015.  

In Focus: Kabir Dhanji: Darkness into Light

Energy poverty continues to affect much of Africa, shackling its potential for growth. Electricity is a basic enabler of development: the lack of it not only deprives people of essential services – health, sanitation, safe nutrition through food refrigeration, and more – but fosters insecurity. In unlit or poorly lit environments, murder and other violent crimes proliferate; citizens are powerless in every sense. To this extent, access to energy is inextricably linked to both rule of law and development.

 New York

■ IDLO recognizes the key role that ICTs can play in poverty alleviation and sustainable development by participating in the 15th edition of the INFOPOVERTY World Conference. IDLO defines ICTs as a crucial “means of implementation” to realize the Post-2015 Development Agenda. 

■ IDLO attends the 14th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, underscoring the role of the rule of law as a tool of empowerment for indigenous communities. IDLO reiterates its support for the work of the Forum and for developing the capacity of indigenous peoples in realizing the new development framework.


New York

■ IDLO co-hosts a roundtable on providing access to legal information to accelerate the three pillars of sustainable development. 


 IDLO’s Director-General participates in a High Level Roundtable discussion on accountability mechanisms for implementing the SDGs at the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council. 


New York

 IDLO’s Director-General addresses the Ministerial Dialogue of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development under the auspices of ECOSOC, underlining the importance of remaining sensitive and open to the human dimension of the development agenda when analysing emerging issues that will matter in the future.  

■ IDLO co-hosts a panel discussion on ‘Equity, Social Justice and the Rule of Law Across the SDGs'. From the “What” to the “How”: Policy Choices; Measuring Impact; Tracking Progress’. The dialogue explores policy and measurement issues posed by the new Agenda’s strong emphasis on “equity”. The discussion addresses the “enabling tools” – policies, laws, institutions, partnerships and synergies among them – that can best advance equity and the sustainability of development, and focuses on the “substantive” justice outcomes that the rule of law should be geared to promote.

■ IDLO co-organizes an event ‘Leaving No One Behind’ on the rule of law as a force for delivering an integrated people-centered development agenda. During the event, the Director-General notes that the work we do is meaningless unless it empowers people to claim their rights and hold institutions accountable. Justice must be driven by demand, not by supply. 


New York

 The Director-General addresses the UN Sustainable Development Summit, speaking about the meaning of the rule of law as a tool to promote equal protection, accountability and transparency, cutting across all the Sustainable Development Goals.


New York

■ IDLO presents its photo exhibition ‘In Focus: Justice and the Post-2015 Development Agenda’. 

■ IDLO addresses the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly, recognizing the importance of legal development and the key contribution that different branches of the law can make to sustaining progress towards the 2030 Agenda. 

■ IDLO participates in an event on ‘E-commerce in the Context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, aiming to enhance awareness of the significance of the digital economy and dispute resolution in the context of the 2030 Agenda. IDLO points out that e-commerce can create new models of economic growth, which will level inequality while generating new opportunities. The rule of law can promote investment in e-commerce and is essential in enabling all actors – from businesses to individuals –to access the benefits of e-commerce and the digital economy. 


New York

 ■ At the International Law Weekend, organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association, IDLO highlights that the rule of law is not an abstract concept, but a concrete basis to eradicate poverty, fight discrimination and exclusion, and protect the environment. Furthermore, without SDG16 on peaceful societies, access to justice and accountable institutions, the earlier 15 goals may remain unfulfilled or only partially fulfilled. 

International Engagement

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The Hague: International Women’s Day

To mark International Women’s Day, on 8 March 2015, IDLO hosts the roundtable discussion ‘Making Law and Justice Work for Women’. The event – opened by Mr. Christiaan Rebergen, Director-General for International Cooperation at the Dutch MFA – highlights the legal barriers in the fight against gender-based violence and discrimination and how they are being overcome.


The Hague: Seminar on Kenya’s Judicial Vetting Process

The IDLO Branch Office in The Hague, in collaboration with the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society at the University of Leiden, hosts a seminar on the work of the Kenyan Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board.


Rome: IDLO Photo Exhibition at Farnesina Porte Aperte

IDLO’s photo exhibition ‘In Focus: Justice and the Post-2015 Agenda’ is included in Farnesina Porte Aperte, the Italian MFA’s open house initiative.


Kabul and Islamabad: High Level Government Meetings

In May 2015, Director-General Irene Khan visits Afghanistan and Pakistan to conduct high-level government meetings. In Kabul, Ms. Khan meets President Ashraf Ghani and the leadership of the country’s justice institutions to discuss the importance of justice sector reform in ensuring Afghanistan’s stability, access to justice and development. In Islamabad, she meets the Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs.

Washington, DC: USIP Somalia Event

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and IDLO host a roundtable in Washington, DC, bringing together practitioners and experts within the area of peace building and rule of law to discuss lessons from Somalia. The event features a presentation by IDLO’s Somalia country director, followed by an in-depth question and answer session.

Rome: Albie Sachs Briefing with Member Parties

Albie Sachs, former member of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, addresses IDLO staff and representatives of the organization’s member parties in a discussion about the struggle for equality and justice in South Africa.

 Milan: IDLO Photo Exhibition at ISPI

On the occasion of Expo 2015, IDLO’s photo exhibition ‘In Focus: Justice and the Post-2015 Agenda’ is shown in Milan at the Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale (ISPI).  


The Hague: Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and the Law

More than 20 international law and global health experts gather in IDLO’s Hague office to examine human rights- based approaches and domestic legal responses to NCDs. The meeting – co-sponsored by Global Health Law Groningen and the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Working Group of the Netherlands School of Human Rights Research – results in the adoption of a consensus statement on NCDs.

'Realizing the Right to Food': Click to read full report

'Realizing the Right to Food': Click to read full report

Milan: Expo Event on Right to Food

With food being the leading theme of Milan Expo 2015, IDLO – in collaboration with the Milan Centre for Food Law and Policy – takes the opportunity to talk about it in legal and policy terms, launching its report on ‘Realizing the Right to Food’ at the Angola Pavilion. 

Rome: Private Sector Event at IFAD on Women in Agriculture

IDLO’s Director-General, Irene Khan, and Cherie Blair, Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, co-chair a roundtable discussion titled ‘Women’s Empowerment: Solutions at the Nexus of Agriculture, Nutrition and Enterprise’. At the event, held at IFAD headquarters in Rome ahead of the 42nd Session of the FAO Committee on World Food Security, high-level representatives from business, government, and international organizations discuss women’s empowerment in agriculture and supply chains.  

The Hague: Third World Conference of Women’s Shelters

On the occasion of the Third World Conference on Women’s Shelters, organized by the Global Network of Women’s Shelters, IDLO hosts three side events on Afghanistan, Latin America and child justice programs. The Conference brings together hundreds of delegates including survivors of gender-based violence, high-level political figures, experts and practitioners from over 115 countries.

The Hague: Impunity Watch Transitional Justice Seminar

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Impunity Watch and IDLO organize an expert meeting on Transitional Justice at the IDLO Branch Office premises. A highly qualified group of experts, policy makers and practitioners from different backgrounds and countries reflect on the future of transitional justice, and highlight the need for a context- specific and politically sensitive approach, to ensure creative innovation and a more central role for victims and civil society in transitional justice processes.

Rome: IFAD Gender Awards

On 25 November, IDLO’s Director of Global Initiatives, Dr. Faustina Pereira, gives a keynote speech on the impact of domestic violence on rural lives and livelihoods during IFAD’s third annual Gender Awards, organized to celebrate the five best-performing projects in addressing gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Washington, DC: Law, Justice and Development Week

During Law, Justice and Development Week 2015 – organized at the World Bank Headquarters from 16 to 20 November – IDLO hosts a session on ‘Implementing the Law: How to Make Justice Work for Children in the Middle- East’. The session focuses on one of IDLO’s growing areas of expertise: access to justice for children. Discussions center on research jointly conducted by IDLO and UNICEF in Jordan, Sudan and Tunisia.  

Strategic Partnerships

Memoranda of Understanding

Memoranda of Understanding Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) set the parameters of cooperation between IDLO and governments, international organizations, UN agencies, regional bodies, professional associations or academic institutions. These agreements allow IDLO to secure a formal basis for a range of activities in a given country or region, to establish a framework for action in a particular program area, or to expand our research, competencies and thought leadership capabilities.



Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean - ECLAC (January 2015)

The agreement aims to create a framework for IDLO and ECLAC to work together in pursuance of their shared goals, including through technical cooperation and research in support of the design of economic policies that promote sustainable development in the region.

Office of the Attorney General, Somalia (February 2015)

This MOU paves the way for IDLO to provide technical support to build the AGO’s strategic planning capacity and knowledge of substantive aspects of criminal law and procedure.

Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, Peru (September 2015)

Through this MOU, IDLO and the Peruvian Ministry of Justice commit to carry out joint activities, including – but not limited to – capacity building for operators in the intercultural justice sector, as well as actions to facilitate access to justice for vulnerable groups.

University of Pennsylvania Law School (September 2015)

The document sets a framework for the signatories to join forces in promoting the rule of law. It also creates an internship program to give Juris Doctor students the opportunity to work with IDLO staff in Rome, New York, Geneva, and The Hague.

Judicial System and National Commission for the Improvement of the Administration of Justice, Costa Rica (October 2015)

The purpose of the agreement signed between IDLO, the Judicial System and the National Commission for the Improvement of the Administration of Justice (CONAMAJ) is to establish the overall framework for the implementation of initiatives – including training, capacity building and the sharing of international good practices – in the field of justice administration.

Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, Mali (December 2015)

Under the MOU, the signatories undertake to join forces in promoting reforms in the Malian justice sector. This includes providing training on different aspects of law and procedure, building capacity in the area of case management, and strengthening the capacity of informal justice sector operators. 

Business & Private Sector

Consensus is growing that the international community cannot eradicate poverty, promote sustainable development or create inclusive economies when human rights are ignored, when the rule of law is absent, when justice and accountability systems do not function properly, when women and minorities suffer from discrimination and when opportunities are open only to a few based on wealth and privilege.

Where the rule of law is absent, business finds it hard to operate and there are significant damaging commercial ramifications such as lack of respect for intellectual property, poor means of contract enforcement and regulatory compliance, legal transparency, and reliable mechanisms of arbitration. Each of these factors stifles entrepreneurial creativity and works to the great detriment of worldwide business and commercial stability. The rule of law is also concerned with legal identity and empowerment for individuals and organizations, enabling transition from the informal sector into the formal economy. Such individuals and organizations are at the base of many companies’ supply chains.

The private sector can play a positive, complimentary role to government, in giving support to the building and strengthening of legal frameworks and accountable institutions.

UN Business for the Rule of Law Framework

IDLO is a founding member of the Steering Group of the UN Global Compact’s Business for the Rule of Law (B4RoL) initiative. The initiative aims to engage the business community and legal profession in advancing the rule of law, good governance and corporate sustainability. IDLO contributed to the development of the Business for Rule of Law Framework that provides business-friendly guidance on how the private sector can respect and support the rule of law, and participated in its launch in New York.

The private sector and the SDGs

Throughout the year, IDLO engaged with representatives of the private sector to raise awareness of how they can contribute to delivering the SDGs. These activities were kicked off during a private event on the margins of the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Eradicating barriers to women’s empowerment

Together with the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), the World Bank Group, the United Nations Global Compact and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and with support from the Governments of Romania and Paraguay, IDLO brought together business and women’s leaders and government representatives to discuss how to use legal tools to break down the gender gap and dismantle barriers to women’s empowerment.