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Development’s Missing Ingredient

How can we eradicate global poverty and deliver sustainable development for all?

That is the question that governments are now considering at the United Nations in the process that will determine the world’s post-2015 development priorities. 

As head of a global network of foundations that provides almost $1 billion of funding every year to civil society groups around the world, I care about development very much. And I welcome the UN’s stated commitment that this process “should also promote peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality, and human rights for all.”

These are issues that are at the heart of our work at the Open Society Foundations, and they are vital to peace and development.

But when UN members drew up the current set of measurable global development targets in 2000, they didn’t include goals for the rule of law, or governance. The skeptics argued that these things were too political, they infringed on sovereignty, or they couldn’t be measured.

Now, we have an opportunity to change that. Together, we need to come together to persuade members of the UN General Assembly that development targets should involve not just access to education, healthcare, clean water, and other vital services, but also access to justice.

What does that mean? It means that anyone should know and be enabled to claim the protections and services due to them under the law, be it in a formal court, an administrative procedure or a community-based forum. It means that no one is left behind because they don’t have the right legal identity documents. It means that people should know about and play a role in shaping the laws and regulations that govern their  lives, and that communities should have the power to manage their land and natural resources.

I am happy to join global leaders, development experts, and grassroots groups in endorsing a statement that sets out in more detail how these five principles can become measurable goals in the new global development framework. As UN members begin to prepare the first drafts of that new strategy for the world, this statement makes compelling reading.

It’s my hope that they hear this simple message: development needs justice.

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