Professor Yunus: ‘We need rule of law’

28 May 2016

Nobel Laureate and pioneer of microcredit, Professor Muhammad Yunus has been appointed to IDLO’s International Advisory Council. Following an event to mark his joining this select body of eminent thought leaders who provide high-level counsel to the organization, Professor Yunus spoke to IDLO.

IDLO - You won the Nobel Peace Prize ten years ago, would you say the world is a safer or more dangerous place a decade on?

YUNUS - In some areas it’s safer, in some more dangerous. For example, on the environment, now that we finally came to agree the Paris deal, that is the beginning of creating a safer world.  We are very happy that step was taken and by universal consensus, the world was waiting for that. So this is very important.

In other areas, the world is becoming more dangerous because the wealth of the world is getting concentrated in only a few hands. Today 1% of the total population of the world owns 99% of the wealth of the entire world. The problem is increasing, concentration is not just staying at one level, it is getting worse. In the US election campaign, they were saying that 0.1 % of the US population own 90% of the wealth of the United States. That’s not a good thing to hear.

This is becoming a dangerous trend. We have to address it, otherwise it becomes a kind of ticking bomb. It ticks, you’re not paying attention to it, suddenly it explodes.

So we have to simultaneously do the same thing we did for the environment, mobilize world opinion and come to an agreement that we have to contain this trend of concentration, keep it how it is so it doesn’t get worse, then think how to reduce it so that more people can participate. The more wealth that is in the people’s hands, the more active the population becomes.

IDLO - You were recently appointed by the UN Secretary-General as an SDG champion. What do you think is the biggest challenge in implementing the SDGs and what can IDLO do to overcome this?

YUNUS - It is very important that we have a list of things to be done, this list that we created globally, these are the things we have to achieve. We have to bring poverty to an end, we have to bring hunger to an end, we have to create opportunities for young people, healthcare for all people and so on.

So this list is now very easy to refer to, governments can make decisions within the framework that we agreed globally, so it becomes easier for them and we can check whether we’re achieving them.

And there’s a timeframe by 2030. So year by year we can count, we can figure how far we have come time-wise, and how much accomplishment we have made, how far we have to go.

Awareness is the most important thing. Just making a list and putting it in the UN newspaper doesn’t end the whole thing. I have to, as a citizen of the world, be aware of what I have to do. So it should not just be heard in the political speeches of our leaders, it should be something that families will be talking about at the breakfast and dining table – what is happening, what can we do, how much do we have to do?

Everybody has a role to play. Citizen’s awareness is very important. I think it’s a very important aspect of the whole thing.

IDLO - As a non-lawyer, someone working outside of the justice sector, what do you think is the role of rule of law, and goal 16, in the achievement of the SDGs?

YUNUS – The rule of law gives me a framework, defines the space where I am, gives me my right where I stand.

How to ensure rule of law exists is not the interpretation of one person, it is the consensus of society on what we mean by the rule of law, a system that allows us to implement it and makes sure we feel safe with that rule of law.

That’s a very important aspect and IDLO can play an important role in that. IDLO talks about justice, ensuring justice.

What is justice, what does it mean to me, who ensures this, does justice go across the income levels or is it only justice for people at the top because they can buy justice?

Sometimes justice, the rule of law, can become a purchasable commodity, you have to buy this otherwise you don’t get it. In the legal system, you have to hire the lawyers, you have to go to the court, pay the fee, and then you get the justice. But if I don’t have anything, am I included in it?

If I’m not included, then that’s not rule of law, that’s not justice, because it’s something you have to buy.

We have to go to the fundamental issue – how to ensure justice for everyone, rich or poor, you should get as much justice as anyone else.

Just because you’re powerful, you get away without being subjected to justice. But because I’m at the lower end, all the wrong things come to me and I get pinpointed for things I haven’t done.

So that’s the kind of question we have to raise.

IDLO – You are joining IDLO’s International Advisory Council – what can you bring to it?

I’m very happy that I am included in the group and I will bring questions to the table, the questions I have kept raising in the past.

IDLO is an organization dedicated to ensuring justice to the whole world. So how do we ensure that? How does it work? How can rule of law be ensured?

IDLO – Why should the rule of law matter to ordinary people?

YUNUS – Rule of law is a fundamental right for every citizen. I feel safe, I don’t have to be subjected to unexpected violation, I know laws will protect me, I know the system will protect me, I have entitlement to this and I get it, I feel safe.

So for personal safety, for society’s sake, we need rule of law. And we need somebody, some organization like IDLO, to oversee that the system works.


Social Business Academia Report 2014

We are happy to announce that YY Foundation has put together the Social Business Academia Report, Volume 1, to bring together the experience of educational institution working in the field of social business.

Professor Muhammad Yunus says: “Young people today have all the capabilities and technologies that are needed to overcome any social problem that still exists in our society.”

The role of educational institutions is therefore key to ensure that the education supports the young generation in bringing on the creative solutions to social problems.

You can find the report at the following link. SBAcademiaReport2014

We welcome all your feedback and looking forward to get your help to put together more comprehensive report in the future, about the activity of universities and other education institutions that support young people to learn and get involved with social business.

Reflections by members of delegation of Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus’s to One Young World Summit 2014:

A team of ten bright young Bangladeshis were travelling with Professor Muhammad Yunus to attend the One Young World Summit in Dublin, Ireland from 15-19 October 2014. The One Young World, founded in 2009 by David Jones and Kate Robertson, is a UK-based non-profit organization that gathers together the brightest young people from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections to create positive change. One Young Summit invited Professor Muhammad Yunus and Yunus Centre to bring a delegation of ten young people from Bangladesh to participate in the One Young World Summit at their cost. At this purpose, Yunus Centre selected ten delegates - five girls and five boys - from different universities in Bangladesh through a vigorous screening process focusing on leadership quality and commitment to work for the social good.  Among them three are from Grameen Bank borrower families who are now studying in University of Dhaka, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing with Grameen Bank education loan.

Delegates wrote about their observations & experiences of OYW Summit, 2014 which are share here:

Yunus Launches Mary Robinson Centre in Ireland

Yunus Launches Mary Robinson Centre in Ireland

Former President Mary Robinson invited Professor Muhammad Yunus to inaugurate the Mary Robinson Centre and deliver the inaugural human rights lecture of the Centre on October 17, 2014 in her home town of Ballina in County Mayo, 234 km west of Dublin. In the photo, Ms Robinson and Professor Muhammad Yunus stand beside the official plaque of the Centre on the house where Ms. Robinson was born and spent her childhood years. This building has now been donated to the City Council of Ballina and converted into a public building. (Photo: L. Morshed/ Yunus Centre)



Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus was invited by former President of Ireland and former High Commissioner for Human Rights to inaugurate the Mary Robinson Centre and deliver the inaugural human rights lecture of the Centre on October 17, 2014, in her home town of Ballina, County Mayo, 234 kilometer west of Dublin. President Robinson and Professor Yunus drove together to Ballina and visited the home where President Robinson was born and grew up as a child. This home has been donated by the family to the City Council and converted into Mary Robinson Centre for human rights, equality and climate justice.


Yunus meets German President

Yunus meets German President

Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus and German President Joachim Gauck at the 50th anniversary of Robert Bosch Foundation in Berlin on Thursday.

Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus was in Berlin to speak at the 50th anniversary of Robert Bosch Foundation, one of the leading foundations of Germany, on October 16. German President Joachim Gauck, a former East German civil society activist, was the chief guest and key note speaker on the occasion. The theme of the 5th anniversary celebration was Shaping the Future: The Role of Civil Society.

Dr Gerd Mueller, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the new Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi also spoke at the two-day conference in Berlin. Bosch Foundation plans to promote social business in its future programmes.