MDGs Ignore Basic Aspects of Development

After discussing Richard Heek’s article “ICTs and the MDGs: On the Wrong Track?“ this past Tuesday, I found myself wondering why I had never questioned the MDGs before. They’ve always seemed like such a positive approach to unite countries and collaborate on improving lives globally.  Furthermore, having been developed in such a formal manner, there was also the aspect of authority that comes with the UN and other “Global North” countries. In my research quest to find similarly critical perspectives, I ran across an online article on UK-based non-profit “Share The World’s Resources” web-page titled Millenium Development Goals Need More Emphasis on Human Rights. In this 2010 Article, author Olivier De Schutter details the reasons why the MDGs are failing so miserably right now and I must say, I whole-heartedly agree with Schutter’s “root-causes” approach.

Schutter’s article begins with a short review of the most recent World Leader gathering in New York in 2010 to review MDG progress and continues with an explanation of what the MDGs are and how they were created in the first place. The first argument, as stated in the title, slashes the MDGs focus on eradicating the world’s greatest challenges (poverty, lack of adequate food and water, and poor education) without specifically identifying and tackling their root causes. Instead of throwing money into more and more programs that effectively “should” alleviate global concerns, why not take the time to strategize a process that involves the citizens of the countries the UN is attempting to improve. This is why Schutter delves into the analysis of human rights as the baseline objective before tackling other development issues.

“Another major deficiency of the MDGs is their failure to recognize human rights as essential to any sustainable development strategy. Human rights are not just symbols; they are also tools. They are valuable because they are operational (Schutter 2010).”

Current obstacles to development include the unfair competition of international trade, limitations for civic participation, and the complete lack of a framework or model from which these obstacles can be overcome. I believe that before further aid can be handed out and before more “Band-Aid” programs are enacted, there needs to be an analysis of all conditions in a country (economic, political, medical, environmental, etc.) before concrete goals can be achieved. Thinking back to Heeks’ article, MDGs cannot continue with the say “one-size-fits-all” mentality or else we are dooming ourselves to failure. Schutter continues along these lines with “Accountability mechanisms should be established, allowing victims to hold governments responsible for their failure to take action. This removes the stigma of charity and it is empowering for victims. Instea of being helped because they have unsatisfied needs, they are granted remedies because their rights are being violated.” Overall, I must agree with the opinions of both Heeks and Schutter that the MDGs at the current moment are very poorly planned and until a more defined framework that can be adjusted based on the environment can be created, they are unlikely to be completed.

References: Schutter, Olivier De. 21 September 2010. Share The World’s Resources, “Millenium Development Goals Need More Emphasis on Human Rights.”


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