Rule of law key to maintaining development gains | Magdy Martinez Soliman

19 Jul 2013

 12,000 police officers have received basic police training in Somalia. Photo: UNDP in Somalia

For the first time in history, the possibility of eradicating poverty is a reality. The number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen across every developing region over the last 12 years.

Yet, we face considerable challenges to human development largely shaped by growing inequalities within countries. Bad governance, poor health, low quality education, the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation continue to be the drivers of universal poverty.

The rule of law is essential to address the current threats to progress on human development. No country affected by widespread conflict or fragility has achieved a Millennium Development Goal target. Effective security and justice systems are necessary to facilitate transitions out of fragility and conflict and to prevent violent crime. Moreover, the rule of law as the principle of governance that no one is above the law reinforces accountability to the law and establishes checks on power that reduce abuse of authority and corruption.

Of course, the relationships between the rule of law and human development are complex and multi-faceted. The challenge will be to develop measurable targets and indicators for the Post-2015 framework that resonate within diverse country contexts and enable the political and social action at the national and local levels necessary to improve the rule of law.

The High Level Panel on Post-2015 has suggested some relevant targets:

•    increase the share of women and men with secure rights to land and property;
•    ensure equal right of women to own and inherit property, sign a contract, register a business and open a bank account;
•    provide free and universal legal identity, such as birth registration;
•    reduce violent deaths and eliminate all forms of violence against children;
•    ensure justice institutions are accessible, independent, well-resourced and respect due-process rights;
•    enhance the capacity, professionalism and accountability of the security forces, police and judiciary.

With the discussions on the Post- 2015 agenda still evolving, time remains to consider how best to incorporate the rule of law. The voices of people from all over the world is making it clear, however, that the next development agenda must tackle the hard questions before us if the gains made are to be maintained and if we are to build together the world we want.   

Read the full version of this post on the Advocates for International Development (A4ID) website

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