Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
While Lao PDR has made steady progress towards establishing rule of law, significant challenges remain. These include insufficiencies in the number and capacity of judicial professionals in the country, the weak implementation and enforcement of laws, and the need to harmonize domestic legislation with a number of international legal obligations. There is also the need to improve women’s and men’s access to justice, stakeholders’ participation in decision-making processes and the reporting to international human rights bodies.
The country has made significant advances in certain areas of governance. These include strengthening public administration capacity, decentralizing delivery of local services, improving accountability with a greater share of responsibility being taken by the National Assembly, enlarging the space for stakeholders (with a larger number of contributing civil society organizations compared to that in the previous five-year period), clearer goals, and a focus on improving the justice sector in the country.
Pragmatic laws are vital for unambiguous application and implementation. An assessment of law-making conducted by the Ministry of Justice in 2014 found no draft law that strictly complied with the requirements set out under the 2012 Law on Laws, which includes broad participatory consultations, explanatory notes and impact assessment reports. The recently developed law-making manual is expected to provide technical support to law drafters in order to comply with these requirements.
Lao PDR has initiated a transparency and anti-corruption drive. The Government recognizes the importance of preventing and combating corruption. In its statement at the Universal Periodic Review, the Lao PDR delegation emphasized the implementation of the Law on Anti-Corruption, other related laws and legal instruments, particularly the decree on the declaration of assets for government officials at all levels. In a ranking conducted by the INGO Transparency International, Lao PDR ranked in the bottom fifth of the Corruption Perception Index (135 out of 176 countries and territories) in 2017. In terms of actual score, Lao PDR was marked 29, on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
Lao PDR has acceded to or ratified seven out of ten key international human rights instruments. The country continues to incorporate these obligations into its national laws, policies and programmes. However, enforcement and implementation lag behind, and most reports to treaty bodies are overdue. In 2015, the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review made 196 recommendations to address these gaps, of which the Government of the Lao PDR has accepted 116.
With significant expansion of investment in land throughout the country, the impacts of land investment are being scrutinized much more than before. Large-scale land investment in Lao PDR has brought significant transformations in national landscapes, which have in turn, engendered drastic socioeconomic and environmental changes and affected food security and traditional livelihoods. The Government has accepted the recommendation made during the 2015 Universal Periodic Review on providing full, adequate and effective compensation for land expropriations and on recognizing and protecting customary land rights. It also agreed to step up enforcement of its 2012 moratorium on new mining investments and on the granting of concessions for rubber plantations, and review new and existing land concessions, with a view to cancelling or sanctioning those found to be violating the law.
We cannot hope for sustainable development without peace, stability, human rights and effective governance, based on the rule of law. Yet our world is increasingly divided. Some regions enjoy peace, security and prosperity, while others fall into seemingly endless cycles of conflict and violence. This is not inevitable and must be addressed.
Armed violence and insecurity have a destructive impact on a country’s development, affecting economic growth, and often resulting in grievances that last for generations. Sexual violence, crime, exploitation and torture are also prevalent where there is conflict, or no rule of law, and countries must take measures to protect those who are most at risk
The SDGs aim to significantly reduce all forms of violence, and work with governments and communities to end conflict and insecurity. Promoting the rule of law and human rights are key to this process, as is reducing the flow of illicit arms and strengthening the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance.