SDGs and the HLPF

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mark significant progress for persons with disability. While the SDGs carry forward the clear goals, targets, and target indicators that were praised from the MDGS, the SDGs make a departure by including references to persons with disability. In class, we discussed the process by which this language was put forward and incorporate into the SDGs. The process, which includes NGO lobbying states so that the state’s language changes once they arrive in negotiations and efforts by non-state actors such as the major groups and accredited NGOs to push for language that includes persons with disabilities, marks not only a huge success in terms of the SDGs, but also reflects the progress achieved by those who have been working to changing language to be more inclusive leading up to the creation of the SDGs.

Another notable success is the inclusion of persons with disability as other stakeholders on the High-Level Political Forum (HLFP). The intersectionality approach, which had been used to justify not including persons with disability as a major group, loaned itself towards the erasure of disability issues within the major groups. The major groups are already considered vulnerable and significant populations who are fighting hard enough as is to achieve their goals, so disability-specific issues within each group remained untouched. However, under the HLPF, persons with disability are included as other stakeholders, giving them access to meetings, information, and a voice on the forum (notably the ability to organize side events to focus on their issues). Through the inclusive language within the SDGs and the addition of persons with disabilities as other stakeholders on the HLPF, we can see a shift towards recognizing inclusive sustainable development as important and necessary to achieve development goals.

For my capstone project, I am focusing on SDG 8: Promote Sustained, Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth, Full and Productive Employment and Decent Work for All. Within this goal, Target 8.5 references persons with disability under achieving “full and productive employment and decent work for all”. While this is not the target I am focusing on in my project (Target 8.7), it is connected to the topic of human trafficking because both Target 8.5 and 8.7 share the indicator of ratifying and implementing fundamental ILO labor standards and compliance in law and practices. This indicator will be necessary to examine in my case study of South Korean law to see how people with disabilities have somehow been excluded from the progress towards this goal and been made vulnerable to human trafficking for forced labor.