From the Editor - IBA Global Insight December 2012

Making poverty history. The bold claim on our cover is not something we’re delivering on at present. It has, though, been the focus of one of the most inspirational speakers at the IBA Annual Conference in Dublin: Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for successfully developing microfinance, addressing poverty in Bangladesh. He shares his views on the shortcomings of traditional finance, the way banks serve the privileged, not the poor, and his vision of what needs to change (Muhammad Yunus: Making poverty history).

Yunus expressed his views during the exclusive in-depth interview with IBA Global Insight and at the session ‘Lawyers against poverty’ at the Dublin Conference (both can be viewed at tinyurl.com/Dublinfilms). He suggests the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that cover eight targets, including halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of HIV, addressing environmental degradation, and creating partnerships for development, are ‘the best thing that the UN […]and mankind as a whole ever did.’ When drafted over a decade ago, the intention was that these goals be met by 2015. They haven’t been, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is currently re-focusing attention on them with the hope of speeding progress post 2015.

Yunus was one of several Nobel Prize-winners to grace the Annual Conference in Dublin, along with Professor Joseph Stiglitz who analysed the financial crisis and the shortcomings of current responses (The Financial Crisis). In the ‘Agenda Setters’ section of this edition, we include Stiglitz’s opening ceremony address, and Mary Robinson’s call to arms on the environment (Environmental Justice), which she delivered at the inaugural George Seward memorial lecture to commemorate the former Honorary Life President of the IBA. The Association has responded to Mary Robinson’s plea to take inter-generational justice seriously by establishing a task force to address the issue. The third of our ‘Agenda Setters’ is Bernard Kouchner. Having witnessed the horrors of Cambodia, Rwanda, and Srebrenica, the former French Foreign Minister and Nobel Prize-winning co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières is a passionate advocate for humanitarianism forcing reform of  the law (Human Rights and the rule of law). It’s a pleasure to be able to share – on the pages that follow – the views of these leading figures regarding the most pressing issues facing us today. Those considering what will follow the MDGs could do worse than take their inspiration from them.


James Lewis