Mar 19, 2016 09:41 UTC

In this episode, we study the root causes of non-materialization of the goals of the Millennium Development Plan in a number of countries.

As of the foundation of the United Nations, one of the main goals of this international organization has been to help the economic and social development of its member states. This goal has been stated in the UN Charter. For more than five decades, this international body has made a number of theoretical and practical efforts to overcome the problems impeding development; and to promote the state of welfare in the community, while preparing and regulating a whole host of strategies to this end. The outcome of these efforts was approved the heads of state of 189 world countries throughout the UN Millennium Summit meetings in September 2000, under the heading of the Millennium Declaration. This declaration covers a wide range of commitments in regard to development, human rights, appropriate ruling system, and democracy. The Millennium Development Plan general goals were eight in numbers, in addition to twenty-one operational aims which all countries pledged to fulfill by the year 2015.

In this manner, the international community started the third millennium with an unflinching determination to liberate from the yoke of several challenges, especially poverty. The UN General Assembly approved a charter, according to which developed and advanced countries vowed to make every effort to dispel poverty, promote human honor and equality, gain access to peace and democracy, and protect the environment by the year 2015. Attainment of these goals was practically the driving force behind the development policies in poor countries in a bid to provide a healthy and beneficial life for one billion poor people in the world and to maintain global peace and security.

At the end of the year 2015, many thinkers and authors of the field of development admitted to a string of relative successes in the 15-year deadline that was set for materialization of the goals of the Millennium Development Plan, while reminding that the full materialization of the related set goals is not even possible in the near future. In order to provide documented proof for their claims, they cite the inability of some Asia-Pacific countries which due to budget deficit did not achieve the Millennium Development goals till the end of 2015. Some countries such as China made resounding accomplishments in the campaign against poverty. However, the African countries grapple with major problems in this regard and have failed to achieve the majority of their set goals. Developing countries, such as Northeast Asian, Latin American, Caribbean, North African, and West Asian states have taken a number of steps in materialization of a number of Millennium Development goals, and have made a number of relative accomplishments in this realm. The sluggish activity of governments for achievement of the Millennium Development goals led some thinkers to refer to Millennium Development goals as Millennium Development holes.

The Center for Global Development, in accordance to UN reports, has specified twelve underdeveloped countries which maintained the least progress. At the end of this list is Guinea Bissau, and Afghanistan, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Liberia, Haiti, Ivory Coast, and the Central African Republic. Some countries such as Syria and Yemen, who have been embroiled in war, naturally failed to take steps to fulfill these goals.

According to a senior UN Development Plan official, some countries and regions maintained a good performance in fulfillment of some of the set Millennium Development goals. But, this has not been the case for a number of other countries. Meanwhile, some crises, and natural disasters contributed to the sluggish pace of materialization of some of the set goals. For instance, global financial slump in the past few years, and major natural disasters, such as the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean in December 2004, the earthquake which jolted Haiti in January 2010, and the flashfloods in Pakistan, all impeded progress. Moreover, mismanagement, break out of wars and/or political and economic instability in many countries, posed serious challenges against the materialization of Millennium Development goals, causing the failure of efforts of some world leaders, economic enterprises, and civil organizations in fulfillment of the millennium goals.

Meanwhile, according to other analyses, it was proved that the rate of progress in achievement of development goals is closely tied to the rate of growth of per capita Gross Domestic Product, economic growth, level of support for disadvantaged strata, and quality of activities of economic organizations. Moreover, corruption negatively impacted efforts for accomplishment of these goals.

The reformation and reinforcement of economic organizations via effective decentralization and/or improvement of governmental services in different sectors can help fulfillment of these aims. Transparency in the campaign against corruption, adoption of appropriate policies to support disadvantaged and low-income strata, improvement of services rendered in cities, transparency of markets, and respect for human rights are some of the necessities which can assist the materialization of these goals.

Experts opine that economic growth on its own was insufficient for the fulfillment of Millennium Development goals, and to achieve these aims it has been essential for developing countries to amend structure, and improve the quality of economic growth; while shaping appropriate developments in relation to national development strategies. Meanwhile, several vulnerabilities, and a string of structural challenges have made it more difficult to achieve the Millennium Development goals. The UN Chief, Ban Ki Moon, in his keynote speech at the UN General Assembly pointed out this fact, noting major achievements have been made in fulfillment of the Millennium Development goals, in comparison to the past. However, further measures should be taken to this end in the future.

Pundits opine that for materialization of development goals, countries should attain the minimums in the governance, health and education sectors, infrastructure, access to global markets, and protection of the environment. Otherwise, countries will be mired in poverty and destruction of the environment. Undoubtedly, in the absence of integrated, all-encompassing plans, it would be impossible to fulfill the development goals in countries; and such countries would continue to suffer from poverty and underdevelopment.