Although the Millennium Development Goals, declared by the General Assembly in the Millennium Declaration in 2000, do not refer specifically to energy, in reality none of the goals can be attained without universal access to modern energy services. Recent reports from the United Nations have drawn attention to the link between energy and poverty, and have shown that the access to modern energy services is essential for lifting peoples out of poverty and fundamentally improving their quality of life on an everyday basis.
This article examines the nature and magnitude of the situation in less developed states lacking universal access to modern energy services and considers the current, limited national and international law in this area. The article then argues that it is international law that must play the major role in ensuring that universal access to energy services is realized. It considers what type of international instrument might best serve the purpose of achieving progress in improving modern energy services for those in poverty. Finally, the article provides a draft of such an instrument, together with an explanatory commentary, as a prototype of the steps that could be taken by the international community to achieve progress in this area if there is sufficient political will.