Without basic legal empowerment, the poor live an uncertain existence, in fear of deprivation, displacement and dispossession. A juvenile is wrongfully detained and loses time in school; village land is damaged by a mining company without compensation; an illiterate widow is denied the inheritance she is entitled to and is forced on to the streets with her children. By what means can individuals and communities protect their rights in daily life?
Tens of millions of people live without a legal form of identity, such as a birth certificate. This identity is the cornerstone of justice. Without it, one may be denied opportunities to overcome poverty, including access to immunisations, school, land deeds and welfare. One of the first MDG 2.0 targets, therefore, should be reducing statelessness and providing universal legal identity: the enactment and enforcement of legislation ensuring every citizen has universal access to a documented legal identity and is registered at birth.