Hernando de Soto and Madeleine Albright in Time: “We are well into the 21st century, yet roughly half the world’s people live in makeshift homes in squatter settlements and work in shadow economies. In many countries, more than 80% of all homes and businesses are unregistered; in the Philippines, the figure is 65% and in Tanzania, 90%. More than one-third of the developing world’s GDP is generated in the underground economy, a figure that has increased steadily over the past decade.
Powerlessness and poverty go hand in hand, yet neither is inevitable. As co-chairs of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, we believe there is a better way. The commission, a U.N.-affiliated initiative made up of some two dozen past and present world leaders, is exploring ideas to extend enforceable and fungible legal rights to impoverished people in societies across the globe. Our goal is to bring about a consensus on what needs to be done and find incentives for national and local leaders to do it.”