Advocates for International Development (A4ID) and the Africa Justice Foundation (AJF) have co-authored an open letter to the UN, calling for the rule of law to play a prominent role in the international development sector.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established by the UN (pictured, in New York) at the turn of the millennium and have set the development agenda for the last 15 years. The deadline for meeting the MDGs is 2015. Some have been met ahead of time, such as halving the number of people living in extreme poverty (defined as earning less than $1.25 a day).

Other MDGs have been less successful. Maternal death rates still exceed the target set at the turn of the millennium. We have some way to go before all children are enrolled in primary education. Therefore, when it comes to ending global poverty, there is much still to achieve.

The period following the deadline for meeting the MDGs is commonly referred to as post-2015. The UN, governments and civil society organisations have been working together to decide what comes next. One of the main outcomes of Rio+20 was the decision to develop a new follow-up framework, called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The new goals are even more ambitious than the MDGs. For instance, instead of aiming to halve extreme poverty, the SDGs will aim to end extreme poverty altogether.  

It is important that the next development framework builds on the lessons learnt from the MDGs. One of the criticisms levelled at the MDGs was a failure to take into account the rule of law. The rule of law exists as a set of fundamental rules and rights which are key to a democratic society. It requires a functioning legal system – one which contains transparent, predictable laws which are equally enforced.

As the foundation of a peaceful and just society, the rule of law facilitates economic development and ensures access to justice and human rights. It is instrumental in the alleviation of poverty.

For these reasons, it is critical that the rule of law is incorporated into the post-2015 agenda and the successor development goals. Ensuring access to justice, transparency of process and an effective legal system will go some way to reducing corruption, protecting the most vulnerable and addressing poverty at its extreme.

The UN has consulted with governments, businesses and civil society organisations regarding the next set of development goals. On 9-10 June, the president of the UN General Assembly will convene a high-level event to consider the contributions of the rule of law in the post-2015 development agenda. This is the opportunity to show our support for the inclusion of the rule of law and ensure its place at the heart of the development agenda.

This is your opportunity to influence the UN’s decision-making regarding the future development goals. Make your voice heard by signing our online petition.

Yasmin Batliwala, chief executive, A4ID, London EC2