Sustainable Development Goals and the Rise and Fall of International Solidarity
From the Normative to the Pragmatic. With Nathan Cooper, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Lincoln, UK.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have been heralded as the next stage in the international community's attempt to eradicate poverty and tackle the challenges of development.
The “Global Goals” build on the MDGs in a number of complex, interesting and policy-driven ways. However, there is a reluctance to join them up with other agendas, such as on human rights.
This lecture by Nathan Cooper, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Lincoln, UK, will explore the connections between SDG 1 on “ending poverty in all its forms, everywhere”, and SDG 17 on "Partnership for the Goals". While SDG 1 is articulating the overarching ambition of the goals generally, SDG 17 seeks to strengthen implementation of the substantive goals (1-16) through a range of targets broadly framed around finance, technology, capacity-building, and trade.
Setting to one side for a moment the individual, or collective, value of the selected metrics to measure SDG 17, this lecture will seek to critique the underlying rationale of SDG 17 and the numerous paradoxes it seeks to accommodate.
It may be argued that SDG 17 is the culmination of numerous attempts to jettison much of the earlier normative language, dating back to the UN Charter. The rationale of SDG 17 is that it operates instrumentally to identify effective means of implementation. What it has lost however is any sense of a wider normative objective to strive for, and secure, structural global change. Arguably, such loss threatens the ability of SDG 17 to revitalise partnerships towards eradicating poverty, protecting the environment, and promoting equality.
Cooper argues that the degree of co-operation envisaged in SDG17 falls short of previous, more substantial obligations. One consequence of such ‘lightening’ of this obligation is to weaken the normative impetus towards international solidarity – a concept we will introduce in more detail in the presentation.