Author:James D. Wolfensohn
Profession:President, The World Bank

Law plays a critical and all-pervasive role in development. Indeed, when in January 1999 I introduced the Comprehensive Development Framework as a tool for ensuring that the structural, social, and human aspects of development would be addressed in a systematic and holistic fashion alongside the macroeconomic dimension, I listed an effective law and justice system as one of the key structural pillars of development. Laws and regulations are indispensable instruments through which societies express their order and, indeed, their aspirations. Social peace and equity, without which no lasting progress can be achieved, require a culture of respect for the rule of law, and an effective and impartial judiciary to ensure that both government and citizens stay the course.

We come to this issue on the basis of the challenge of development. This is a challenge that faces us globally, with half of the six billion people on our planet living on less than two dollars a day and a fifth living on less than one dollar a day. It is an even more difficult issue as we look forward. We know that in 25 years our planet will have eight billion people and that nearly 98% of the additional two billion people will join the developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

This very real challenge faces us all. Bringing about equitable growth necessitates confronting the issue of poverty. To do that we must take into account various aspects of the development process at the same time. We have learned that just pouring money into a country to help it develop or that trying to impose programs from Washington, London, or Paris simply does not work. We have also learned that development plans are useless unless they have a foundation in sound economic, political, and legal systems.

The first key contributor to equitable growth and sustainable development is an effective government framework. This means properly trained and equipped officials, suitably remunerated and absolutely committed to clean government, and a transparent legislative and regulatory system, so that the instruments of govern-ment can work. The second component, which is equally critical, is an accessible, fair, transparent, and honest legal and judicial system " without it, there can be no equitable development. Third, a sound and transparent financial system is needed; it must be honest and available to all people.

As Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, has repeatedly...

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