IAP President Hwang Cheol-kyu
As President of the International Association of Prosecutors, I was invited to attend the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, March 7-12 in 2021, co-hosted by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Japanese Ministry of Justice, in Kyoto, Japan.
The IAP, based in The Hague, is the only worldwide organization of prosecutors committed to raising standards of prosecutorial conduct and ethics, promoting the rule of law and respect for human rights, and improving transnational cooperation among prosecutions.
The United Nations Crime Congress, held every five years, is the largest UN conference in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice. The 14th Congress was the first one to be held after the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the main theme “Advancing crime prevention, criminal justice and the rule of law: towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda”. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was held in hybrid-style for the first time in history.
The Kyoto Declaration, which was adopted incorporating the results of the 14th Crime Congress, is expected to contribute greatly to the realization of criminal justice and the rule of law around the world. I believe that the Declaration would become an important milestone for accomplishing the SDGs, especially SDG 16, “Justice for All,” because it has well nestled within the framework of the SDGs.
During the Kyoto Congress, I took the opportunity to give a keynote address at a workshop and stressed the need to achieve best synergy effect in responding to transnational crimes through combining the “real-time international cooperation platform” and artificial intelligence. In addition, at the seminar hosted by the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, I highlighted IAP’s efforts and achievements in securing the autonomy and integrity of prosecutors, and recent relevant global trends and responses.
At the same time, I shared views on ways to strengthen measures for transborder cooperation for criminal justice in meetings with Japanese Prosecutor General Makoto Hayashi and other high-level officials from UNODC, Iraq, Uganda, Zambia, Ecuador, etc. In particular, in a bilateral meeting with the Japanese Prosecutor General, I emphasized that a new platform was necessary for the regions including Asia with high demand for effective and efficient cooperation and that the IAP is now making a lot of efforts to that end.
The mission of SDG 16 is “to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” For its successful implementation, we need support from all across the board, regardless of jurisdictions. I am certain that prosecutors have a notable role to play in the process. They have to act as gatekeepers to the path to criminal justice. They have to determine how cases proceed, or whether diverted or halted entirely. Besides, the Kyoto Declaration seems to directly refer to the work of prosecutors.
The IAP, currently encompassing some 350,000 prosecutors of 177 countries and territories across the globe, will surely do its best to accelerate the implementation of the Kyoto Declaration and SDG 16.
By Hwang Cheol-Kyu
The author is president of the IAP and chief prosecutor at the International Center for Criminal Justice in Korea. -- Ed.