The Institutional Reform Goals (IRG) project aims to articulate and advocate for a set of politically feasible post-MDG development goals that focus on the responsibilities of affluent states and the donor community rather than only on outcomes for aid recipients.
The immediate target of the IRG project is to influence the MDGs replacement process. By articulating a set of politically feasible goals that focus on reforming global rules and practices that hinder development and harm poor people, we hope to position the IRGs at the centre of the ongoing international negotiations on the post-MDG framework. The longer-term objective of the project is to provide insight into the role of politics and policy in the perpetuation of global poverty and inequalities.
The premise of that IRG project is that institutional rules and practices, unlike poverty eradication outcomes, are directly within the control of the world’s wealthiest states. This makes them especially appropriate for formulating goals with strong accountability provisions. While it is hard to establish who exactly is responsible for the success or failure of poverty eradication in a particular developing country, it is relatively easy to point to which governments have not done enough to, say, curtail illicit financial flows.
Consequently, a politically feasible way of introducing accountability and agent responsibility into the post-MDG framework would be to advocate for goals that: (1) focus on state agents rather than aid recipients, (2) have outcomes that are defined in terms of changes to the structure of institutionalized practices and rules on the global level, (3) promote those institutional reforms that would most substantially reduce human rights deficits and poverty worldwide, and (4) meet a “do no harm” requirement, that is, exclude rules and practices that would themselves contribute to the persistence or exacerbation of global poverty.
We have identified ten main areas in which the reform of global rules and practices could have a major impact on human development and poverty eradication: (1) financial transparency and integrity, (2) international resource and borrowing privileges, (3) intellectual property law, (4) participatory and inclusive decision-making, (5) international labour standards, (6) international trade, (7) environmental sustainability and climate change, (8) global migration, (9) the arms trade, and (10) debt.
For each of these areas, we will:
1. Articulate politically feasible IRGs to be presented through research-backed policy papers.
2. Build a broad coalition of academics and civil society members to support the IRGs.
3. Present and promote the IRGs in the UN consultations on the post-MDG framework, integrating academic consensus and insight into the process.
ASAP’s IRG project is unique. While other NGOs are campaigning on many of the IRG issues, very few understand them as systematically interrelated. Detailed, evidence-based critique of the global institutional order as a whole is underrepresented in global civil society. The Institutional Reform Goals campaign is also a test of the hypothesis that academics can play a distinctive role in advocacy campaigns. By demonstrating academic consensus around policy recommendations and bringing to the table policy proposals that are backed by the best research available, academics may prove uncommonly effective advocates.
If you would like to get involved with the IRG project, please contact IRG Project Coordinator, Dr. Mitu Sengupta (email@example.com)