What is the post-2015 process?

The members of the United Nations have embarked this year on negotiations on a set of global development priorities that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) upon their expiration in September 2015. The MDGs were a landmark demonstration of a worldwide commitment to tackling poverty and providing opportunity for all, expressed through measurable targets and defined indicators. But they did not address the lack of access to justice and good governance that perpetuate poverty and limit development potential.

Now we have a second chance to get development planning right. The post-2015 process presents an opportunity to create a new, transformative agenda that corrects the omissions and shortcomings of the MDGs with a new plan that is aspirational in its vision, yet fully achievable.

What’s the status of the process?

Seven sessions of intergovernmental negotiations this year at the United Nations will build on more than two years of government-led discussions, expert inputs, and a global consultation about what the new development agenda should include.

The government-led process was spearheaded by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, a group of 77 nations set up by the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro. Last summer the OWG delivered a wide-ranging final set of 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The results of the broader consultations were summarized in a report by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon delivered in December last year. The report concluded that the new framework should be built around six elements—justice, planet, people, dignity, prosperity, and partnership. The Secretary General and the President of the UN General Assembly have both agreed that the goals set up by the Open Working Group should be the basis of negotiations on the post-2015 targets.

But with 17 proposed SDGs, as well as hundreds of proposed targets and indicators, the seven negotiation sessions between now and September will focus on creating a more manageable final proposal (bearing in mind that part of the success the MDGs achieved has been attributed to them comprising just eight easily communicated development goals).

Why, and how, have the Open Society Foundations engaged on post-2015?

The Open Society Foundations are advocating for the inclusion of measurable targets for justice, good governance, and public safety in the new development agenda. Our work on increasing access to justice for marginalized peoples demonstrates that justice and good governance do improve economic standing and deliver positive, measurable outcomes on a variety of indicators. We believe the UN needs to agree measurable targets that call for the following:

  • universal access to legal identity
  • universal access to justice institutions and affordable legal aid services
  • secure rights to land and property
  • guarantees for the right to information and government data
  • full public participation in the work and services of governments

Happily, all these elements are included in one of the 17 goals set out by the Open Working Group process, under Goal 16: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

As the process of refining the goals and targets goes on this year, we and our partners will be urging governments at the UN and in their respective capitals to make sure that these targets are part of the final framework when it is presented to the UN General Assembly in September 2015.