Opportunities and Limitations of Global Strategic Frameworks

A theme common across the readings is the issue of using neoliberal frameworks in development agendas. Su-ming Khoo writes, “we should not underestimate the problems accompanying the key assumption that the chosen means of economic growth and market liberalisation will lead to the ends of human development, especially from a rights perspective,” going on to discuss how market oriented policies are questionable in fulfilling rights-centered goals (Khoo 48). This criticism of neoliberalism and its failure to achieve rights-based goals, another criticism of global strategic frameworks, specifically the MDGs, is that agendas should move from being needs-based to being rights-based (Kett et al. 658). When moving to a rights-based agenda, it is essential that first, disability be regarded as a human rights issue, as this recognition has been long-neglected (Lord 312). Kett et al. build on this by stating that disability has for too long been a secondary issue in the international development field (Kett et al. 656). I find the exclusion of persons with disabilities from international development research and global strategic frameworks contradictory because this field intends to improve the lives of the most marginalized, yet it excludes one of the most marginalized groups, persons with disabilities, who experience compounding oppressions.

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Sen’s Development as Freedom

Conceptual frameworks are important in development studies because they provide a lens through which research is conducted, showing what types of data are needed to address the problem at hand (Sumner and Tribe 82). Frameworks also provide a more nuanced analysis of research and analysis. To begin, it may be helpful to describe Sen’s concept of development as freedom before discussing how the framework can inform disability-inclusive development projects. In simple terms, Sen’s development of freedom concept states that development should allow individuals freedoms and capabilities to live the lives they desire and value (Sen 18). Sen’s framework involves both the processes of allowing freedom of behavior and the substantive opportunities to live freely (Sen 17). In other words, development as freedom entails securing the processes by which individuals can attain freedoms and the resulting opportunities that such freedom allows. Two important reasons for prioritizing individual freedom in development are the ability to evaluate society and the promotion of societal effectiveness. Success of society can be evaluated based on the freedoms that people have (Sen 18), a view that is not utilitarian but rather is more humanizing. Freedom also determines individual motivation and hence, social effectiveness (Sen 18). Thus, people’s ability to help themselves in turn helps society. Sen’s framework aligns with the notion of development as a “friendly” process, a view that exchanges can be mutually beneficial, similar to Adam Smith’s argument regarding international trade (Sen 36). Sen’s framework highlights the need to ignore common conceptions that human development (Sen 143), the establishment of social opportunities that benefit human’s capabilities and quality of life (Sen 144), is a luxury in which only rich nations can afford to engage (Sen 143). Sen argues that this belief hinders human development globally and believes that the ability for human development to take place is not limited to a country’s economic situation. 

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Efficacy of Global Frameworks

Many internationally agreed upon frameworks, projects, and development goals all went through a process of evaluation to determine whether or not they were efficient and capable to follow through on on their implementation tactics. High-level meetings are an example of how these developed ideas can be assured an opportunity to prove their efficacy. In this case, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and issues/strategies dealing with Persons with Disability were at the focal point of developing actions to improve the international community, both developing and developed countries. It is unfortunate that persons with disabilities still have to face obstacles in different aspects of their life.

The MDGs focus on a wide range of goals, from poverty rates, to health and education, and much more. However, a number of relevant stakeholders have not ensured that developing policies take into consideration the needs and benefits of all persons with disabilities. These people can include: women, children, indigenous people and the elderly. It is important to develop plans that are relevant to the changes that must occur by 2015 and beyond, but all of this should also take into consideration the numerous inhabitants that are around the world who suffer from certain disadvantages.

It is possible to do as much as we can for others, but, like many things in the world, certain limitations don’t allow for progress to occur. For example, poor, developing countries might not have the voice or effective government to carry out the essential tools to implement development goals. The MDGs faced shortcomings as well. They were able to catch the popular imagination of national governments, a wide range of institutions, and the international community that sought to reduce the amount of poverty around the globe, which was the main focus of the MDGs. The CRPD came up as a result of the international community and national governments not taking accountability for those that did not have the means to be heard (poor countries/people). There was so little attention in regards to their development that policies had to be made and implemented to assure this community the rights they have and deserve.

Human development is a valuable purpose to focus on. As Deepak Nayyar stated in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: people are not just beneficiaries of development. They are the ones that can empower the people to facilitate the implementation of policies and goals. That is why it is necessary to rethink, redesign and reformulate everything that has to do with international development to maintain the efficacy that it deserves.