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Will Justice Be Part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda?

by Terra Lawson-Remer
March 21, 2014

A girl wears a headband with the words, "Love, respect, equality, solidarity, liberty, justice, honesty, and harmony" in Caracas, Venezuela, March 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Jorge Silva). A girl wears a headband with the words, "love, respect, equality, solidarity, liberty, justice, honesty, and harmony" in Caracas, Venezuela, March 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Jorge Silva).

This piece is part of an ongoing Development Channel series on global justice and development.

Whether or not justice will be part of the world’s post-2015 global development agenda remains an open question.

Many states have expressed support for including a strong commitment to justice in any new development goals. The Open Working Group of the United Nations, which is charged with putting together a framework proposal for those new goals, recently released a statement that endorsed the inclusion of rule of law and justice as important for peace, security, and capable institutions.

However, some states have raised concerns regarding infringements on national sovereignty, and others argue that the focus on domestic justice reform neglects governance and rule of law failures at the international level.

In response to this high-level dithering, civil society groups around the world have issued a “Justice 2015” appeal: an open letter to the UN General Assembly that urges the inclusion of justice in the post-2015 development goals.

A recent blog post from Nicholas Menzies of the World Bank proposes a menu approach of justice targets and indicators that could be used in the post-2015 development framework. My previous posts on this same topic explored the main trade-offs and issues that need to be considered in measuring justice and rule of law.

High diplomacy usually leaves little opportunity for outside input, but this case seems to be an exception. On April 24-25, the President of the General Assembly will host a Thematic Debate on “Ensuring Stable and Peaceful Societies.” And on June 9-10 there will be a High Level Event on Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. In both cases, leaders will be looking to civil society for guidance.

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