The original MDGs were goals without commitments; they did not include any reference to how they are supposed to be achieved and who is accountable for achieving them. Of the goals, the only one that deals directly with the responsibilities of states and international institutions, MDG 8, is entirely devoid of any measurable targets.
Resulting from this omission is a serious accountability gap in the MDG framework. For example, despite the fact that we know that the child mortality goal will be missed by far, there is no one in particular that can be held accountable for missing it. Conversely, relative success stories, such as the income poverty reduction goal can be claimed as achievements of the international donor community despite the fact that they are explained to a great extent by domestic processes in a few highly populated countries (China, in particular).
ASAP intends to bridge this gap by developing and advocating for a set of politically feasible post-MDG development goals that focus on the responsibilities of affluent states and the donor community rather than just on outcomes for the recipients of aid.
These goals, which are meant to complement rather than replace more traditional development goals, will be framed in terms of concrete and feasible reforms to the structure of international institutions, practices and rules. In particular, we will focus on reforming those global institutional features that are doing the greatest harm to the world’s most vulnerable populations and contributing to the persistence of severe poverty.
Institutional rules and practices, unlike poverty alleviation 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 easy to point to which governments have not done enough to, say, curtail illicit financial flows.
Consequently, a politically feasible way to introduce 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 have the most significant positive effect on human rights fulfillment and poverty alleviation globally.
4. Are grounded in a “do not harm” principle, that is, are aimed at ensuring that these practices and rules do not contribute to the persistence or exacerbation of global poverty.
We identify eight main areas in which institutional reform goals (IRGs) could have a major impact on human development and poverty alleviation:
- Illicit financial flows
- Intellectual property law
- Participatory and inclusive consultation
- Resource and borrowing privileges
- International trade protectionism
- International labor standards
- Environmental sustainability
Over the next year, in tandem with the UN consultation process, ASAP will execute a series of inter-related projects aimed at putting the IRGs at the center of the ongoing international negotiations on the post-MDG framework.
The main objectives to be met are to:
1. Articulate and advocate for a set of politically feasible IRGs corresponding to each of the aforementioned six areas, presented through research-based policy papers.
2. Build a broad coalition of academics, civil society organizations and corporations supporting the IRGs.
3. Present and promote the IRGs in the upcoming UNDP consultations on the post-MDG framework, integrating academic consensus and insight into the process.
Our strategy for influencing the MDG successors is triple-pronged:
Research: Collaborating with leading experts and research institutes, we will produce at least two policy papers for each of the six IRGs: one to be published before the UN High Level Panel report on the post-MDGs is finalized (June, 2013) and the second before the UN General Assembly special meeting on the post-MDGs (September, 2013). The drafting process will be carried out in synergy with the parallel consensus-building dialogue process.
Dialogue and consultation: We will engage in a participatory dialogue and consultation process aiming to build a broad consensus on the IRGs and related policy recommendations. The process will engage representatives of academia, civil society, government, business, and most importantly, the global poor. We will make use of the already-planned thematic and national consultations led by the UN and Beyond 2015, enhancing them with expert input on both content and process. All ASAP-led dialogue and consultation will be carried out in synergy with IRG research and the Global Poverty Consensus Report.
Dissemination: Breaking with traditional academic dissemination strategies, we will use the most innovative and effective social media and public campaigning tools. This outreach will be carried out in close collaboration with civil society partners.