Development’s Missing Ingredient

Development targets should involve not just access to education, healthcare, clean water and other vital services, but also access to justice.

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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That's fair comment Ralph... indeed what can citizens do to fight systemic injustice?

It is correctly told, development needs justice as well as each person needs in development and justice

For us in Nigeria and, I guess a couple of other developing countries, respect for the rule of law and access to justice is an integral component of the development process. The absence of the rule of law creates a fertile ground for impunity, whether it is with regard to avoidable deaths through inter-religious or inter- ethnic clashes, corruption and other development challenges, to thrive. I wholeheartedly endorese this initiative by Mr. Soros

Thank you, thank you, Mr. Soros – thank you for giving voice to the voiceless.

As the late Dr. Martin Luther King once wisely stated that, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Our nations mourn and the blood of the innocent cry out from the earth and we who are in our safe and comfortable communities turn our heads the other way. If only we were brave enough to act. Your message is not simple but powerful...,development needs justice!

I also 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.” However, when UN members drew up the current set of measurable global development targets and DIDN'T include goals for the rule of law, or governance, it was because these things were too political (FOR SOME OF THEM), and they would bring attention to the LACK of justice within the countries of those same members who PREVENTED the inclusion of these things!

Only TRUE democratic country Members will vote for the inclusion of access to justice. The others USE the United Nations FOR their OWN political purposes in order to infringed on the sovereignty of OTHERS!

Mr. Soros states, "..... no one has the monopoly on the truth." My personal viewpoint is that, “Nobody has a monopoly on writing history. Only a moral responsibility to tell the truth.”

I am happy to use my career experience and position as the newly elected President of the Foreign Press Association to cooperate with Mr. Soros in furthering the respect of rights, and the accountability of government.

David P. Michaels
David P. Michaels-Strategic Solutions

Foreign Press Association (Founded 1918)

"Be who you are and say what you feel ...
Because those that matter ... don't mind…
And those that mind ... don't matter."

DISCLAIMER: Any opinions contained in this message are those of the author and are not given or endorsed by the company through which this message is sent unless otherwise clearly indicated in this message and the authority of the author to so bind the entity referred to is duly verified.

We still need to acknowledge that "the rule of law" does not automatically guarantee justice. If laws are determined by the rich and powerful, will there be justice?

Thanks Maria. That is a very, very important point. The appeal to the UN General Assembly members that George Soros is supporting, along with a range of global legal empowerment practitioners, offers a careful definition of what is meant by "rule of law":

"The rule of law is defined by three principles: First, the
law is superior to, and thus binds, the government and all its officials. Second, the law must respect and preserve the dignity, equality, and human rights of all persons. To these ends, the law must establish and safeguard constitutional structures necessary to build a
free society in which all citizens have a meaningful voice in shaping and enacting the rules that govern them. Finally, the law must devise and maintain systems to advise all persons of their rights, and it must empower them to fulfill just expectations and seek redress of grievances without fear of retaliation."

Thanks again for your comment.

Jonathan Birchall, Communications Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative

I salute you Mr. Soros. Please tell this to Bilderberg group. those people controls almost everything and maybe they can hear you.

The lack of justice is one of the cardinal causes of underdevelopment.In Uganda,the" haves' grab land form the "have nots",denying them even the slightest chance to produce for themselves,In the courts of law deny justIce to the poor.Rule of law without justice becomes Rule by law,and this is detrimental to development.The U.N should consider justice one of the cardinal indicators of development.

Enforcement. Transparency. Responsibility.

We are still waiting for the ORR FY 2011, 2012 & 2013 reports to Congress.

Where are the thousands of children. The Unaccompanied kids detained in immigration. They urgently need justice. They cannot wait for 2015 and another set of promises made by adults that are not honored.

Where are the ORR reports to Congress. FY 2011, 2012, 2013.

The development initiative should be rooted at local community level. In Uganda Corruption is the problem to the development initiative this affect the poor local community.

The development requires peace, just, and equitable distribution of wealth and resources. spending by respective governments on health, education, housing and population control particularly in developing countries. without out investing in poor the real goal of development is hard to achieve.

And Justice does not mean " rule by law" but rule of law. Laws are made to take land from the poor, laws are made to usurp the resources of communities and laws are made to exclude some populations from accessing services. Justice is fundamental for well being of any person.

Delighted to have a comment from The Gambia on this issue! We've had others from Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda,Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa...which is very heartening for this effort. On this rule of/by law question, I would refer you to the reply above, with the full defnition of what this statement means by "rule of law". Thanks!

Jonathan Birchall, Communications Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative

We should take a action to ending the poverty in the world


Mr. Soros is really going on in the world, according to the results of the positive processes, worthy of praise and awards. I do not know why but for some reason, the government of Azerbaijan, Baku branch of OSI closed (in 2011). If you restore the Baku branch, would have ensured the victory of democracy.

security is the only cardinal instrument for addressing the issue of poverty ,discrimination and abuse of Human destiny

It would be interesting to hear more about what you mean when you say "security"?

There is an old (read in history books from colonial days in India) saying "give me freedom & justice or give me death", perhaps it reflects the need for freedom & justice for everyone.

Development indeed need Justice and through our community media we can pledge to spread your message so that its massively supported especially buy the ordinary poor women, Children, the Youths,the elderly and others living with chronic health complications including Hiv/Aids and others.
In Short Mr George Soros Mungu Fm Radio in western Province of Zambia can amplify your message .


Rough translation: No one is free, if someone is not free. For the world does not know about the tragedy of Roma in Serbia. For me as a person, the only thing that matters is rights and justice.

You nailed it, Mr. Soros! The lack and inaccessibility of justice thwarts everything, and espouses crime. The accessibility of justice for everyone would be an advancement indeed!

You nailed it, Mr. Soros! The lack and inaccessibility of justice thwarts everything, and espouses crime. The accessibility of justice for everyone would be an advancement indeed!

Monsieur Soros,
Happy to read about your enlightened activities,i always know where your touch is active and bless you for it...
of course communities should have the power to manage
their land and natural resources.....
but as we all understand too well the problem is the need to
implement efficient mechanisms of enforcement
as you say so wisely Monsieur Soros development for
post 2015 agenda and further needs justice....we are
also all aware that who pulls the strings is not the
good will of the UN,accept my highest consideration
for your so sincere Good Will and generous involvement.Claire Costom.


I strongly sign this petition .When there is justice for all the targets shall be achieved easily not only eradicating extreme poverty alone but also other Global targets that were set. Where Fundamental rights of citizens are violated then solevreinity is infringed as such realizing targets will be in total jeopardy.
Justice has greatly determined quality of peoples life thus we need to overemphasise on this.

Advocacy and lobbying will always help, we can do it

Yes, There cab be no development without Justice. The two are identical Twins!

The armous task ahead is measuring what exactly we mean by Justice. The Israel state interprete persecution of the palestinians as Justice for the Isralites!

The Syrian President equally would claim the extermination of opposition as Justice for his regime!

The genocidal killer would equally claim it as an act of justice!

Similarly there are others that would claim the september 11 killings as Justice, just as the Americans would say the killing of Osama bin Laden has been justice effected.

Some People in RSA claims justice to the the sole motivation behind Xenophobic attacks, killings, mass deportations of citizens of the former frontline states!

What this says is that unless well defined, the term Justice can be a dangerous instrument in our hands!

The challenge is for all of us to roll up our sleeves and redefine the term 'Justice'!

Thanks for the comment BKC. I would say that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the conventions and agreements that have derived from it, plus international humanitarian law, together provide a pretty solid base for what we mean by justice.

Best wishes, Jonathan Birchalll, Communications Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative

Life is still not for everyone. Without justice we can not really to live...
Mr.Soros -
You've change our life.Thank you!

That is what the society is looking for.We can not separate development and justice.I want to participate in these progressive campaigns towards the achievement of a better society

We have lot to do.

Education and training are the first, law is the second.

Thanks for the comment. They are definitely both important! But don't you need law to ensure stability of your society and the safety of your students, and beyond that, to ultimately ensure that education is open to everyone equally? You could argue that the rise of the nation states in Europe created the legal stability that enabled the growth of schools and universities...and that education then supported the spread of rule of law... Jonathan Birchall, Open Society Justice Initiative

To avoid corruption, good government, justice and good education are some steps to eliminate the poverty achieve in that way we will achieve world without poverty.

we really need to built a new meaning for justice!!

I* admired your intention for building a just world. However, when I found out how you made your BILLIONS,I stopped believing youm SOROS!

Dear Barry, I am not sure this is a matter of belief; there is fact-based evidence of the correlation between access to justice and peace and development. Separately, George Soros made his fortune in the global currency markets; his Open Society Foundations is now the world's largest private funder of human rights issues and causes. Best wishes, Jonathan Birchall, Communications Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative

Poverty will never be eradicated and Justice is only available to those with access to money and capital and currency. As long as there continues to exist multiple classes of currency, and only the most educated and secret of societies are allowed to trade, the poor will continue to remain uneducated in the ways of Freenomics.

Sk Abul Kalam Executive Director ARA Satkhira (asia) Bangladesh. Our Innovative Project Water, Climate Brick.
I have no fund Please help ARA.

The question has always about being accountable however some of them do not wish to be held to account, so Justice is also a key ingredient in the full achievement of the MDG's. You are right

An actual missing ingredient that needs to be included. Thank you for voicing this out

I am a practising lawyer, and 11 years ago I founded Protimos, ('honouring value', Anc Greek) a legal NGO, to straddle the under-explored precipice between law and development. We believe that it is profoundly short sighted for access to the legal process to be sidelined, as it currently is, across the entire development agenda. Access to law, (competent lawyers, good judges and a robust legal framework), is an absolutely fundamental necessity to underpin equitable development, and to ensure healthy societies. Protimos’ Community Legal Empowerment programme, currently growing in Southern Africa, creates and supports teams of salaried local lawyers, who work in partnership with local communities to implement their existing legal rights and create precedents for others. Our Judicial Advisory programme is building a network of independent senior judges in Sub Saharan Africa, to work together and improve judicial performance, and our Green Light programme is building a standalone legal framework to address such complex issues as free prior and informed consent, and intellectual property rights in biodiversity. We therefore wholeheartedly endorse this petition from Mr. Soros, and although we are a small organization, we are happy to work with others to achieve the goals described in his message. For more information about our work, please visit

Dear Fiona,

Thanks so much for your comment, and information on the great work Protimos is doing. To get your organization on the statement, please go to - Namati is coordinating sign on for legal empowerment/access to justice groups. Again, many thanks for your message of support.

Jonathan Birchall, Communications Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative


Mo Ibrahim, philanthropist and advocate for better governance in Africa, has also joined the campaign to get access to justice included in the post 2015 goals:

"As the debate on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals unfolds at the United Nations this year, it is my fervent hope that African governments will endorse the inclusion within these goals of measurable targets for access to justice. To be sure, the dominant themes that are emerging in the UN discussions – jobs, economic growth, infrastructure development, and poverty reduction – are all still desperately needed across the continent. But the rule of law is a fundamental principle that does more than promote economic growth, and it would be a serious mistake not to include it in the SDG agenda."


Vivek Maru, executive director of Namati, which supports global legal empowerment efforts, wrote this recently for the Guardian Development blog:

"But realising the quest for justice is not possible without state commitment. A global development framework is one of those rare things that nations in our fractious world gather to agree on. The goals adopted at the turn of the millennium were worthy but to fulfil them completely – to leave no one behind –justice needs to be at the centre of our new pact."



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