Efficacy of Global Frameworks

In the past number of years, much has been made about the efficacy of global frameworks. Nowhere is this more important than in the debate surrounding the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs, which were established in 2000, sought to expand and improve development throughout the world through 8 goals. These goals included achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality, eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, and ensuring environmental sustainability. While certainly admirable goals, the SDGs are not without their own criticisms. First and foremost, the MDGs have received criticism because although these goals were slated for completion in 2015, many of them were not reached. These shortcomings were attributed largely to the breath of the goals expressed and the lack of concrete plans associated with each goal. There were also very few monitoring or follow-up mechanisms associated with the goals. The MDGs also received criticism for not paying enough attention to vulnerable sub-groups including indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities.

However, the debate surrounding the efficacy of the global frameworks expands beyond the MDGs. Even with the relatively recent introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), critiques about the feasibility and monitoring of the goals have already begun to emerge. Some say the goals still do not address certain vulnerable sib-groups adequately. However, the SDGs do also represent an attempt by international community to respond to the criticisms of the MDGs. The SDGs have a much more complex series of goals and targets than the MDGs contained. The SDGs also sought to speak more directly to vulnerable sub-groups including indigenous groups and persons with disabilities than the MDGs. They also speak more directly to cross cutting issues such as gender disparities and environmental degradation.

However, despite the criticisms extended to global frameworks both past and present, they still play an inarguably critical role in international governance. The SDGs, MDGs, and other international agreements and meetings such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), shape how the international community perceives, talks about, and addresses critical issues. While they may not be as efficient as some would hope, they do still guide international policy in a positive direction and address valuable issues that might otherwise not be addressed. For example, while MDG goal 2 —achieving universal primary education— was not met by 2015, illiteracy rates did decrease rapidly throughout the world. This demonstrates that while not 100% effective global frameworks do play a critical role in addressing important international issues.