Working Toward a Just and Effective Development 


A journalist, politician, human rights activist and founder of “Women Journalists Without Chains”. 

Yesterday’s dream has become a reality; the post-2015 development agenda and the preceding millennium declaration have been a great achievement of humanity, which would bring stability to the globe and prosperity, and sustainable peace to all human beings with a life free of poverty and hunger.

Then, all human societies everywhere would become a better place. Therefore, the onus is on us to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in an honest and genuine manner.

What makes our efforts meaningful in this regard is that the SDGs are characterized by ambition and equity, as they have been founded on the principles of justice, fairness, freedom and human dignity as well as on the principle that the earth is our mother. It is also everyone’s duty and right to protect it for all of us and for future generations. This means it is necessary to turn the page on the unfair globalization where some have had special privileges while others have gotten nothing.

Had we not been lax in achieving that and had we decided to comprehensively implement the SDGs, we would definitely turn the page on the misuse of the earth through excavating, mining and manufacturing, which have destroyed its climate and wasted its minerals, causing both unexpected and expected environmental disasters with unbearable consequences. We have to do what needs to be done in this area, so our mother, the earth, remains intact and healthy, lavishing generations with what is enough to sustain a decent life without disturbances.



I know that state heads and heads of governments have taken a great step when signing the post-2015 development goals, but this remains inadequate.

For me, implementation of the goals should urgently come into effect so that societies across the globe realize their positive impacts

In order for this to happen, it requires, among others, to develop objective and detailed plans to carry out the development agenda in a comprehensive and balanced manner. It also needs adequate UN supervision over the implementation of these plans and performance evaluation, as well as the ability to overcome difficulties constantly and provide enough funds needed for the implementation of the world’s different development plans.

In order for the post-2015 development agenda not to be just ink on paper, like what happened to the package of signed agreements and plans, which have turned out to be mere archival materials. All of these measures are for the implementation of Agenda 2030.

In the context of talking about the global development goals and about factors as well as the reasons for their success, it would also be appropriate to talk about the trio of strong institutions, peace and justice to ensure the success of plans, rationalizing funding and avoiding any non-implementation. When there are sufficient plans, enough supervision and attention and adequate funds, then priority has to be given to create strong institutions, peace and justice in order to ensure implementation and success.

Strong institutions are needed on three levels: At the UN level and at the local and national level. It is necessary to activate the existing United Nations bodies related to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, give them greater powers to be able to play their role in planning, supervising, evaluating and making radical reforms. This empowers the competent United Nation agencies, to honor commitments and make others meet their own commitments. Otherwise, it would not be possible to achieve Agenda 2030.

At the local level: to achieve the multi-dimensional and sustainable development, having strong institutions is also a very important prerequisite as there is no development without strong institutions, which adhere to the rule of law, accountability and transparency, fight corruption and prevent the abuse of power and waste of resources.

On the other hand, any failed institutions being unable to perform duties towards the well-being of citizens, develop and mobilize human resources for achieving progress and prosperity account for high rates of poverty, hunger and deprivation, and this contributes to spoiling the institutional environment much more. In this way, the vicious circle continues to operate until the state and society totally fail.

To create strong institutions, only competent people should, first and foremost, hold public offices, which must be immunized against nepotism, bribery and corruption by adopting proven and objective measures and mechanisms.


In order to have strong institutions, it is a crucial step to create competencies, build capabilities in various fields, and then give them opportunities to occupy public office and positions.

This should be done in conjunction with creating transparency and accountability in various state institutions, in accordance with institutional measures and judicial reform, which allow citizens access to all information and data on public affairs and hold immediate and comprehensive accountability for all cases of corruption and abuse of power. These measures are indispensable for achieving strong institutions at the local and national level, and for ensuring an effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda.



The most common problem hindering the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda, lies in the lack of will to make reforms in the countries characterized by weak and ineffective institutions, whose consequences should be borne by and those refusing to have strong institutions.

Governments, who do not apply good governance, are usually afraid of laws and effective institutions because this would deprive them of abuse of power. Therefore, they do their best to prevent transparency from reaching official data and records of various public institutions, for fear these data and records would incriminate them in front of others, and consequently they will be held accountable. Hence, it is in the best interest of governments lacking in good governance, that those who are corrupt or have looted public money escape prosecution and punishment.

Those benefiting from weak institutions always tend to take actions and policies that keep such entities weak, and prevent any improvements or institutional reforms, in order to keep the situation as it is.

Here, the United Nations should put pressure on those governments at different levels, in order to ensure transparency and accountability

In addition, local efforts should also be made by individuals, organizations and political parties, to demand a comprehensively political and institutional reform that is enough to ensure having institutions with good governance.

It is inevitable that individuals, organizations and political groups, make their own efforts added to international ones to ensure the fight against corruption, transparency, accountability, good governance and other necessary measures to have institutions enough strong and able to implement development plans.

In fact, concerted efforts made at global and local levels are justified especially since corruption’s consequences such as poverty, hunger and states’ failure have no longer been a local matter. Just like fighting against corruption, prosecuting crimes of corruption and recovering looted money have no longer been a local matter as well. This is enshrined in many international agreements and covenants, which need to be activated and adhered to so that people enjoy their fruits.

Institutions’ weakness is also attributed to other factors, including unawareness of reform and the lack of capabilities such as having sufficient expertise to build strong institutions, legislation and proven regulations and mechanisms, and providing adequate funds needed to modernize and develop existing institutions.



The global development agenda is based on the principles of justice that should dominate the fair distribution of the benefits of globalization, among all members of this global village on which we share life.

Locally, opportunities should be distributed among citizens without discrimination or monopoly under any circumstance, as justice is manifested when all enjoy their basic rights and freedoms equally and indiscriminately.

Likewise, criminal justice must be achieved to ensure the protection of citizens from aggression and violations of their rights and freedoms, and to ensure that offenders and perpetrators do not escape just and fair punishment according to law.

The achievement of justice in many communities entails stopping dictators’ war on their own people, and therefore the most important form of justice is to protect people from massacres and killings committed by despots against those demanding freedom. So, the road to justice begins with ensuring that perpetrators of massacres against humanity are internationally prosecuted, held accountable and allowed not to go unpunished. This is an important way to apply justice in many communities and countries suffering from such violations.

There is a close link between the absence of justice and the violation of citizens’ fundamental freedoms. Thus, the struggle for a democratic society governed by respect for rights and freedoms is a fight for justice, too.

The transitional justice could be resorted to when the need arises. Societies suffering from internal crises and conflicts at the time of political transitions could go down the road of the transitional justice, which ultimately is a range of measures to be taken to achieve sustainable peace. Besides, all necessary measures have to be taken in order to achieve a reconciliation that creates a stable society, ensuring the rights of victims to reparation and compensation and preventing the recurrence of future conflicts, violations, crimes and massacres against humanity. It is worth mentioning here that the transitional justice does not grant immunity from civil and criminal liability to criminals and perpetrators of massacres.

There are growing concerns that the transitional justice would turn into actions, which have nothing to do with justice; into a form of immunity granted to the criminals who soon resume committing much more heinous crimes. This, of course, does not help to conduct institutional and political reforms to ensure that citizens enjoy rights and freedoms and prevent them from being violated.

Neglecting justice in countries experiencing armed conflicts, leads to the collapse of development. Yes, justice falls into the Sustainable Development Goals, but nothing could be done at the level of development without justice.



It is difficult to talk about sustainable development, especially in light of conflicts and wars. Communities under conflicts indulge themselves in deep failure that only brings poverty, destruction, hunger and cross-border terrorism, and becomes a breeding ground for terrorism, which carefully choose its victims from among poor societies where the poor are truly its faithful soldiers as it provides them with the needed shelter.

Reasons behind internal conflicts and crises in many countries are multiple, and addressing factors and causes are unavoidable if we are to achieve sustainable peace in those countries.

The struggle for a state of peace is deemed to be a fight for justice and development, which is the utmost purpose of any noble effort.

In order for us to obtain a state of peace, we must work together to let the state be the only body that has the right to a monopoly of violence and the possession and use of arms and having sovereignty over the entire country, and to punish groups seeking to dispute this right and sovereignty.

The absence of peace does not only get in the way of sustainable development, that Agenda 2030 aspires to achieve on the local and global levels, but also undermines the existing resources and development even before the outbreak of conflicts and wars.

To do that, the development we aspire to achieve must include the principles of justice, peace, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms

Otherwise, we will again make the same mistakes, and this would not be something good in the future.



Tawakkol received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011: in recognition of her work in non-violent struggle for the expression rights, safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work in Yemen. THIS PIECE IS PART OF A SERIES EXPLORING THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS. 


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