Introduction to model laws on lighting.

JurisdictionUnited States
AuthorGuruswamy, Lakshman
Date22 March 2016

This Introduction will outline four foundational premises on which the model laws on lighting are built. The first is factual and deals with the unmet global need for lighting. Second, the jurisprudential foundations of model laws are delineated. The third explains the use of national legislation, and not public international law. Finally, the importance of executing and implementing the model laws is emphasized.


    We confront a global problem of energy poverty that besets the poorest peoples of the world. In stark contrast to the high-energy world, which depends on hydrocarbons or fossil fuels, nearly one-third of the world's population still lacks access to appropriate forms of energy adequate to meet their basic needs. Globally, around 2.8 billion people (the "Other Third" or "Energy Poor" ["EP"]) have little or no access to beneficial energy for: (a) cooking and heating; (b) illumination; (c) clean water; (d) sanitation; and (e) basic mechanical power essential for performing a variety of domestic and commercial functions. (1)

    More than ninety-five percent of the Energy Poor live either in sub-Saharan Africa or developing Asia, predominantly (eighty-four percent) live in rural areas. (2) The EP cannot be classified within simplistic sociopolitical divisions of the world, into developing and developed countries. This is because there is a subset of nations within the developing world, called the least developed countries ("LDCs"). In 2014, the LDCs consisted of forty-eight countries and 880 million people located primarily in Africa and Asia. (3) The LDCs have been officially identified by the U.N. as "least developed" in light of their low income, (three-year average gross national income ["GNI"] per capita of less than U.S. $992), weak human assets (low nutrition, high mortality, lack of school enrollment, and high illiteracy), high economic vulnerability, exposure to natural shocks and disasters, prevalence of trade shocks, economic smallness, and economic remoteness. (4)

    While twenty-eight percent of people in developing countries lack access to electricity, the number in the LDCs is seventy-nine percent. (5)

    These LDCs may be contrasted to another subset of developing countries, sometimes called newly industrialized countries ("NICs") or advanced developing countries, which have made tremendous economic strides in recent decades. This category includes the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, (6) South Africa, and the "Asian Tigers" of Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea. (7) It also includes Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, which are following the trajectory of exceptional economic growth and rapid industrialization of the Asian Tigers and have consequently been dubbed "Tiger Cub Economies." (8)

    However, access to clean energy or electricity is not uniform within NICs. The EP are a significant population in NICs like India, and to a lesser extent China. The EP in these countries suffer from a dearth of energy in their households, are denied the chance of making a living whether by way of agriculture, industry, or crafts, and lack energy for their hospitals and schools serving their communities and how the lack of beneficial energy prevents and negates development law, as a normative construct. The EP also lack access to lighting, and these Model Laws on Lighting for Developing and Developed countries address this phenomenon. Lighting or illumination is essential to human progress and without it "mankind would be comparatively inactive about one-half of its lifetime." (9) The scorching sun and withering temperatures in the LDCs prevent agricultural labor during the daytime and reduce productivity, and fifty-eight percent the absence of artificial lights severely impedes working at night. (10) Without lighting it is not possible for students to do homework after nightfall. (11) The absence of lighting creates physical insecurity, particularly for women and children, while venturing out in the darkness, and almost entirely prevents commercial activity after dark. Almost 500 million people rely on kerosene for illumination. (12) The hazards of kerosene, such as fires, explosions, and poisonings resulting from children ingesting it, are extensively documented, and children and women are disproportionately affected. (13) There is evidence implicating kerosene with other ailments including the impairing of lung functions, asthma, cancer, and tuberculosis. (14) The use of kerosene and candles is costly. Households often spend ten to twenty-five percent of their income on kerosene. (15) Over U.S. $36 billion is spent on kerosene annually, U.S. $10 billion of which is spent in sub-Saharan Africa. (16)


    The jurisprudential thesis underlying the assertion that law should be used for societal problems solving is that law is an "instrument," "tool," "machine," or "engine" for serving or achieving social objectives. (18) Law in this sense is being used to achieve practical aims. (19) Robert Summers, in discussing the use of the machinery of law to achieve socio-economic objectives, saw it as a particularly American form of legal theory spawned by theorists like Oliver Wendall Holmes, Roscoe Pound, John Dewey, John Chipman Gray, Karl Llewellyn, Walter Wheeler Cook, and Felix Cohen. (20) Summers coined the phrase "pragmatic instrumentalism" to describe how these theorists created a theory of adjudication focused on the role of judges in shaping and molding law to achieve social means or ends. (21) The pragmatic instrumentalists relied on courts as instruments or machinery for achieving their goals. (22) Their attention was focused on what judges did when interpreting the written form of a legal text. (23) They contended that judges engaged in interpreting a legal text to ascertain its true meaning cannot do so by a simple parsing of the plain words. (24) Instead, judges should consider and construct their meaning in light of the context of the law as illustrated, for example, by the goals or objectives it was meant to achieve. (25)

    In addition to the pragmatic instrumentalists who charted a new theory of adjudication, and "a distinctive type of legal theorizing" (26) in the United States, the use of law for social engineering could trace its jurisprudential lineage to the British philosopher, jurist, and social reformer. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). Bentham, perhaps best known for his utilitarian philosophy, was also an English legal revolutionary who re-drew the contours of law. (27) In doing so, he recreated a vastly expanded domain of law in a way that had not hitherto been done. He called for a complete, comprehensive, and integrated legislative re-envisioning of the existing system of law and government. (28) Bentham expounded the necessity for a new "form" of law that laid the foundations of a reformed society, in which the "whole of the community's social system no less than the community's legal system was to be located analytically within the province of legislation." (29) Moreover, he explicated how to design, draft, implement, and generally use legislation to achieve the social objectives of the new kind of law he was calling for. (30) The vast and theretofore shapeless socio-political expanse envisioned by him had to be legislatively mapped and populated, and become part of a great reformist enterprise based on a new concept of law. (31)

    One of the major problems he confronted was that such an expansive concept of law flew in the face of the reality of his day, as reflected in the existing corpus of law, received orthodoxy, and extant legal theory. Legal theory of his time envisioned a minimalist state. For example, William Blackstone, in his masterly Commentaries on the Laws of England, first published in 1766, provided a complete overview of English law. (32) Sections II and III of Blackstone's Introduction to the Commentaries on the Laws of England, "Of the Study, Nature and Extent of the Laws of England," offers an overview of the law in general. (33) In this authoritative account of English law, Blackstone divides law into the unwritten common law and written or statutory law. According to Blackstone, "[s]tatutes are either declaratory of the common law or remedial of some defects therein." (34) What is evident is that Blackstone treats the common law as the primary source of law and confines legislation to either declaring the common law or remedying its defects. (35) While the latter conclusion may be interpreted as resembling the expanded concept of legislation called for by Bentham...

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