The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the end product of several United Nations development conferences since the 1960s. The first, second and third UN development decades of 1960s, 1970s and 1980s focused greatly on economic growth (MDGs, par. 1; Wagner, par. 1). The eight Millennium Development Goals that were agreed upon so as to facilitate global economic growth during the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000 include: get rid of extreme poverty and hunger; attain universal primary education; promote gender equality and empowerment of women; to reduce child mortality rate; fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; improve maternal health; provide a global partnership for development; and finally guarantee environmental sustainability. The principal objective is to put an end to poverty in half of the nations across the world by the year 2015. The MDGs are a unique approach to these worldly problems they confer obligations on both rich and poor governments, but place a heavier burden on rich countries. The seven goals apart from the global partnership for development- which provides a means through which the seven goals can be achieved-, are for mutual reinforcement and they are aimed at reducing poverty (MDGs, par. 2; Wagner, par. 5).The Millennium Development Goals are founded on six core values which include: freedom, equality; solidarity; tolerance; respect for nature; and shared responsibility. Each one can be traced to an economic, social, or cultural rights originally set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and later enumerated in a separate treaty, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Some of the millennium development goals have been achieved in other nations like the universal primary education. The progress or steps put in place so far so as to attain them is discussed in the essay. The essay also discusses the reasons for success of MDGs are seen on the global effort of addressing the issues challenging every nation , provision to partnership, among developed nations and global development institutions and specifically attainment of development goals in particular areas like the African nations through integration of national policies and MDGs. The reasons for failure of the Millennium Development Goals at global, regional and country levels are seen on the formulation of the said development goals, political integration and financing. It is also seen that the MDGs hold the potential as a unifying vision for the international community because they mainly serve as global goals that ask for unity and cooperation among nations for them to be attained (Wagner, par. 6).
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Progress Achieved In Attaining the MDGs
One of the most aspects of the millennium development goals was that in the course of the drafting process, the targets were deliberately tailored to cognizable human rights. The aim of doing this was so that the members of the general assembly would see the targets as more of an obligation than an aspiration development target. As obligations, the nations must not only stop from going against the goals but they must also take affirmative steps that are focused at realizing the goals (Wagner, par. 10).
Also, at the International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Monterrey, Mexico in March the year 2002, several countries confirmed their commitment to the MDGs. The MDGs were again reaffirmed by the global community in September 2002 at the world meeting on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The leaders of the world from more developed nations also reaffirmed their dedication to raise financing for the developing countries at the 2002 global meeting (Wagner, par. 11; United Nations, par. 3).
Remarkable progress has been achieved by individual nations, especially the nations that have enhanced their social expenditure and developed programs that are aimed at achieving the millennium development goals. Examples include: Bolivia and Cameroon have raised expenditure on and formed national programs to improve health and education; improved educational standards in Malawi and Guinea; improved nutrition in Indonesia, Mexico and Tunisia; HIV/AIDS reduced greatly in Senegal, Thailand, and Uganda; reduction of child death rates in Bangladesh and Gambia; and the spread of polio reduced outstandingly across the world (Wagner, par. 13).
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) brings together efforts to achieve the millennium development goals at both the world and country levels. According to the UNDP arrangement, every developing nation was supposed to hand in at least one report at the end of the year 2004. A lot of regional and governments' commission do compile regional and sub-regional millennium development goals. After compiling, the UN security general publishes a yearly report on the world progress in relation to the MDGs. The UNDP is present in over 166 nations where it acts in a joint capacity with an aim of coming up with a plan of implementing relating to the needs of every particular nation. Specifically the UNDP struggles to engage villages and societies at the micro level in the progress pertaining to the development goals. The UNDP supports nations to find out solutions jointly and contribute doing well techniques with other nations aimed at the similar goals (MDGs, par. 15; United Nations, Pg 45; Sachs & UN Millennium Project, pg 34).
The UNDP also formed the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) to further give support to nations in the implementation of the goals. The UNDAF is a procedural planning framework that enhances teamwork between UN, government of various nations and various development members. UNDAF has succeeded in over 18 nations like India, Papua and China among others (MDGs, par. 20; Papua New Guinea & United Nations Development, pg 100).
The United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan formed the Millennium Project in the year 2002 which acts as a sovereign advisory project to ensure the realization of the millennium development goals. The millennium project set up an intelligent task force to help every nation in their steps forward towards the goals in light of every nation's particular needs. The ten task forces and their functions are as follows: task force 1- is for poverty and economic growth (Kabeer, pg 54); 2- for hunger; 3- education and gender parity (United Nations, pg14); 4- child and maternal health (United Nations, pg 22); 5- HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, other common diseases and access to vital medications (Tandon, par. 5; Wagstaff, Claeson & World Bank, pg 98); 6- environmental maintainability (Amoako, pg 11); 7- sanitation and water; 8- improving the lives of people who dwell in slums; 9- open, rule-based trading systems; and finally task force 10- for science, technology and innovation (United Nations, par. 5).
Every task force comprises of experts from a variety of fields of academics, private and public professionals, members of civil society organizations and UN organizations.
The core objective of the Millennium Project is to assist nations request for extra funds essential to meet the goals.
Reasons for Failure
The progress of the world in the 1990s was not regular across both the regions and nations. It was noted that even within the same nation, progress was not consistent between different social-economic groups. Within nations, poverty is greatest for rural areas, though town poverty is also extensive, growing and underreported by traditional indicators. From the universal agreement among the United Nations, it was that not any of the millennium development goals were attained on the international scale (MDGs, par. 4).
The goals do not cover every aspect of life. The MDGs focus only on the economic, cultural and social rights, leaving out the related civil and political rights. Still in the social, economic and cultural rights; the goals are narrow since they do not include objectives for enlarging the participation of people in the government, expanding employment opportunities, the reproductive health care rights and institutional governance changes (MDGs, par. 2).
The use of narrow signs in measuring the advancement aimed at achieving the goals. An example is the use of the school enrollment gaps in the measurement of the human development progress, or simply because nations may not have a definite number of phones or arithmetically have the same number of boy and girl students registered in schools does not symbolize that the millennium development target that the indicators relate to is being achieved or not (LaMore & Supanich-Goldner, pg 5).
Some of the developing nations do not like the immense influence that donors have on how nations approach the implementation of the MDGs. A lot of societies feel that their local officials have been despised by the agendas of the UN agencies and donors through not allowing them to have their own approach to achieving the MDGs.
The practice of depending upon statistics to evaluate progress is not adequate. Although statistics may be important in measuring the world overall progress, the means can be deceiving since progress differs even in the same nation. Statistical means tend to bring about unwarranted conclusions that are not based on actual examinations.
Some the regions are not endowed with adequate natural resources. Examples include: the Middle East and North Africa region has inadequate fresh water; most of the Sub-Saharan Africa region dry thus it is the center of crisis, food insecurity continues to rise, an increase of intense poverty, strikingly high child and maternal mortality rates, and large numbers of slum dwellers, and a rampant deficit for most of the MDGs (MDGs, par. 5; Wagner, par. 11; Millennium Development Goal).
Reasons for Success
The formation of the UNDP which works with the UN family to progress the world partnership for development at the International level while at the country level it works in close collaboration with UN organizations where it is ever doing the following major functions (U.N., par. 1; Pande, par. 4; Zoellick, pg 42; The World Bank Group, par. 4):
- It raises awareness of MDGs and supports nations and sub-national regions to adapt and adopt MDGs.
- It provides leadership and UN coordination to develop capacity in nations to assess what is required to attain MDGs. It conceptualizes policies and designs strategies and plans.,
- UNDP has ever organized consultations and training, carries out research, develops planning and information management tools.
- It provides practical support to nations to increase the implementation of initiatives to attain the MDGs in areas like procurement, human resources and management of finances.
- It helps nations, regions and the globe to report on their progress.
- Assists the developing countries, regions, societies with funds necessary to put into practice their cooperative efforts to attain the MDGs (UNDP, par. 4).
MDGs as a Unifying Vision for International Community
The MDGs hold the potential as a unifying vision for the international community. The reason is that they chiefly serve as world challenges or targets that request for unification and cooperation among nations for them to be attained. Another reason is that the MDGs form joined together set of assets that require integrated responses too the associated challenges of hunger, poverty, diseases, gender inequity and environmental degradation (UNFPA, par. 5). These goals become a central part concept in the creation of policy proposals in most of the developing nations (United Nations & MDG Africa Steering Group, pg. 80). In addition, the spirit of these goals is noble and praiseworthy due to the fact that each goal is aimed at attaining long-term development and works on the core or basic elements of the human capital like education, shelter, health, security and food which are directly connected with productivity. MDGs are practically the same as having a respectable human existence in the course of the time specified and measured targets. It can be evidenced that the basic human rights are all catered for in the specified goals. The universal consensus of various nations on the aspect of cooperation in the attainment of these similar goals contributes much. Finally, it can be recognized that the attainment of MDGs by the year 2015 will fundamentally change the lives of millions of individuals globally (Vlavianos-Arvanitis, pg 2).
The millennium development goals are important in motivating governments to work towards attaining the targets set. The MDGs would be a success if some steps are made towards the goals. It is the developing or poorer nations that are required to make the major progress in line to the goals; hence any little progress made inspires other developing countries with similar goals and the donor countries. The success or failure to attain the goals should not be judged or criticized even if the goals are not achieved by the year 2015 since any progress made is better than none. Also the MDG indicators should not be taken out of context, the indicators should be viewed not as ends in themselves but instead as benchmarks of progress on the road to the wider goal to which they relate. Finally, everybody is encouraged to do his or her own part in building a great world for tomorrow and the future generations to come.
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