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Making the Law Work for Everyone: Report of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor

By: Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor

This report is the culmination of the work of the United Nations Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor. The Commission proposes a comprehensive agenda for legal empowerment encompassing four crucial pillars that must be central in efforts to provide protection and opportunities to the poor. From the Forward:

Making the Law Work for Everyone examines issues that will have a profound influence on human potential and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. [In 2006], a distinguished group of scholars, former heads of state, senior policy makers and thinkers came together to explore the issue of legal empowerment of the poor.

As the Report highlights, the sources of legal exclusion are numerous and very often country-specific. However, four common threads stand out. First, legal empowerment is impossible when poor people are denied access to a well-functioning justice system. Second, most of the world’s poor lack effective property rights and the intrinsic economic power of their property remains untapped. Third, poor people, in particular women and children, suffer unsafe working conditions because their employers often operate outside the formal legal system. Fourth, poor people are denied economic opportunities as their property and businesses are not legally recognised. They cannot access credit, investment nor global and local markets.

This Report, a product of research, analysis and consultations in more than 20 developing countries by international experts and staff will stimulate debate and discussions that have a profound bearing on progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Making the Law Work for Everyone provides a needed and valuable voice for structural changes that will provide the poor a valuable tool as they work to pull themselves from the grips of poverty.