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Deputy Chief of Mission Jennifer Harhigh’s remarks to the Standing Committee of the International Development
April 7, 2022

The rule of law and access to justice are fundamental to sustainable development and lasting peace.  Our discussion of IDLO’s work in Liberia – which the United States is proud to support – demonstrates this very clearly.  There is no food security, or water security, or personal security, without public trust in state institutions, and accountability when things go wrong. 

And yet – as the Director-General’s report makes clear – the global community continues to underinvest in these areas.  The United States is intensely focused on closing this gap. 

This is why President Biden hosted global leaders for the first of two Summits for Democracy in December 2021.  A recurring theme from the more than 280 participants, including 90 world leaders, was the need to defend independent institutions, especially the judiciary. 

Tragically, as the Director General mentioned at the beginning of her presentation, today the world is grappling with the immediate devastation from Russian President Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified aggression on Ukraine.  Putin’s war of choice violates the UN charter.  Russian military forces in Ukraine stood accused of war crimes, even before the horrific imagines emerging from Bucha this past weekend.  Russia has very clear obligations under international humanitarian law regarding the protection of civilians, whether they’re fleeing conflict or trying to provide assistance.  Access to justice – one of IDLO’s specialties – is going to be critically important for Ukrainians living through this devastation in the coming months and years.

We thank the Director General for her support of IDLO staff in Ukraine.  There can be no greater priority than the safety and security of IDLO’s staff.

I also would like to acknowledge IDLO’s important contributions, since 2015, to criminal justice and anticorruption reforms in Ukraine. 

IDLO has excellent relationships with the Prosecutor General’s Office and other key stakeholders. 

We know it is early but welcome your thoughts as to how IDLO can best support Ukraine today.

I urge IDLO to do everything possible to support Ukraine now, today, in its hour of greatest need.

Ambassador McCain and our whole team are fully committed to partnering with the Standing Committee members and IDLO team you to advance IDLO’s unique mandate.  We need to work top-down, to ensure policymakers invest in the rule of law.  And we need to work bottom-up, to empower the world’s marginalized groups to stand up and demand access to justice.