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Post-2015 Development Issues: Criteria for New Goals

by Terra Lawson-Remer
January 23, 2013

A teacher conducts a lesson under a makeshift classroom at a relief centre for flood victims at St. Boniface primary school in Idah in Nigeria's central state of Kogi on October 3, 2012 (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters). A teacher conducts a lesson under a makeshift classroom at a relief centre for flood victims at St. Boniface primary school in Idah in Nigeria's central state of Kogi on October 3, 2012 (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters).

Over the past fifteen years a nascent consensus has begun to emerge that some aspects of good governance and human rights are integral to development as both a means and an end. Although in the past it has been difficult for the global community to agree on governance and human rights goals due to both political disagreements and technical uncertainties around measurement, it is indeed technically feasible, and increasingly politically possible on a global stage, to include governance and human rights goals and targets as part of post-2015 development priorities.

Global development goals should meet four criteria.

First, goals should articulate an objective around which global support can be rallied.

Second, they should be actionable, meaning that the goal can be implemented, and will draw attention to important but often neglected issues.

Third, goals should be universally applicable to all countries, but flexible enough to be adaptable to each country’s unique political, economic, and social environment.

Fourth, goals should increase accountability by establishing standards to which governments and global governance institutions can be held to account.

A number of governance and human rights goals meet these criteria. Upcoming posts will discuss four of these (an illustrative but not an exhaustive list), along with criteria for selecting appropriate targets and indicators for these goals.

Next up: what kind of criteria should be used to select targets and indicators to measure progress on global development goals? How can we avoid the mistakes of perverse incentives and misleading impressions on progress or failure created by some of the Millennium Development Goals, and instead scale up the MDGs’ most successful and useful approaches to measurement?

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