What are the Millennium Development Goals?
In 2000, world leaders came together at the United Nations General Assembly to adopt the Millennium Declaration. Emerging from this document were the Millennium Development Goals (the MDGs), an ambitious set of targets under eight thematic heading intended to eliminate extreme poverty by 2015. Each goal is divided into targets, with progress measured by indicators such as the prevalence of underweight children or the proportion of women in employment.
Two years out from their expiry date, discussions are underway around the globe about what might replace the MDGs—the so-called “post-2015” development framework.
Why do the goals matter?
The Millennium Development Goals have shaped international development spending and domestic policies over the past decade. For example, funding of aid for healthcare and education—both of which were included in the MDGs—increased at a faster rate than aid focused on agriculture—which was left out. Putting justice in the MDGs now would ensure that international donors give it appropriate attention in funding, and national governments would be given a framework for assessing successful initiatives.
What is the process for determining the new goals?
Currently, parallel processes are underway at the United Nations.
There is the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons, appointed to advise the UN Secretary General on the post 2015 agenda. The High Level Panel is co-chaired by David Cameron of the United Kingdom, Susilo Bambang Yudyohono of Indonesia, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and comprises 24 additional experts from around the world who were appointed by the Secretary General in July 2013. The panel is currently slated to deliver its report to the Secretary General on June 1, 2013.
In a second, parallel process, the UN System Task Team, comprising experts from more than 50 UN entities and other international organizations, started consultations on a range of thematic issues that could be included in a post-2015 vision—ranging from inequality to health, to environmental sustainability and governance. In doing so, the Task Team intends to capture the advice of academia, the media, private sector, business, civil society and decision-makers. These consultations will continue through May 2013.
Separately, the Rio+20 Summit in 2012 established the Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. This working group is due to integrate its report into the post-2015 agenda to ensure one comprehensive development agenda is taken forward.
These processes will be consolidated in a report by the Secretary-General, which will be delivered to the General Assembly at a special session in September 2013. Once the process reaches that stage, negotiations will begin among the General Assembly members. Those negotiations are expected to last for the coming two years, with a final post-2015 agenda being unveiled at the 2015 General Assembly.
Why was justice not already included in the original Millennium Development Goals?
The MDGs did not include objectives for justice or governance, because the political will was lacking, and because these were not considered to be easily measurable—a key element in the concept of the MDGs—despite their importance for effective and secure economic development.
Why should a justice goal be added now?
The Open Society Foundations believes that justice plays a fundamental role in eliminating poverty. Without access to justice, the barriers to tackling poverty become all the more difficult to overcome. There is also growing recognition across the governments, donors and experts in the development community of the importance of access to justice in development, both as a means of ensuring equitable economic development, and as a way of avoiding violent conflict (a link highlighted in the 2011 Word Development Report). There is also now a greater consensus on metrics that could be used to assess ordinary people’s ability to access justice.