We have discussed a number of documents, conventions, and agendas in class that makeup the international framework. The MDGs, the SDGs, the CRPD, and the New Urban Agenda are all examples of international commitments that frame the direction in which the international community wants certain interest areas to take. Ideally, this framework should act as a guide to implementation. The combination of all of these documents, especially areas in which they intersect, are meant to direct individual countries toward policies that will help to meet the goals established by the international agenda. This is why signing and ratifying international documents is so important – completing these actions is a gesture of the individual countries’ leadership demonstrating to the international community that they will try to incorporate provisions of the international document in their respective domestic policy.
That being said, one of the common critiques of the international development framework is that it ignores context and promotes a one-size-fits-all approach. This is one of the many critiques of the MDGs that Deepak Nayyar points out in his article, “The MDGs after 2015: Some Reflections on the Possibilities.” It is easy to understand why a critique like this is made upon first reading the MDGs – the eight goals are broad and lack specificity. However, development is not a static process. In the ever-evolving world, we become more aware of development challenges and we collectively welcome more and better solutions to overcoming them. What is more, the MDGs were simple, but this provided for each country to decide for themselves the best way to implement them. In this way I argue against the critique that the global framework for development lacks context. Quite the opposite – the general sweeping goals allow each participating country to decide what policies they need to adopt in order to achieve the goals.
I do not mean to argue that the MDGs didn’t have room for improvement, however. Many societal groups that could benefit from development policies weren’t ensured that their leaders would act on their behalf. There were also a number of key global issues that were not addressed, such as access to energy and urban planning. The MDGs weren’t perfect – but the framework did not end there. The international community is continuously improving the global framework. The SDGs have since built upon the initiatives of the MDGs and incorporated a number of details that were previously lacking from the global framework.