Friday, May 31, 2013

UN's Global Development Goals are Important for the US

Despite the resistance of many Americans, UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) should matter to the US. This is the conclusion of a report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies' (CSIS) Global Health Policy Center. This non-profit, non-partisan, research group released a report at the end of May 2013 titled “Do UN Goals matter to the United States?” This report is relevant because many Americans have questioned the effectiveness of the UN and the value of global development goals for the US. In recent years the US has has an increasingly ambivalent relationship with the UN and Congress even withheld its dues from the organization. In the last decade the UN has also figured less prominently in US foreign policy than in previous decades.

A March 2013 Gallup Poll indicates that two thirds of Americans believe the UN is needed. Resistance to the UN comes largely from Republicans and older Americans. Only 46 percent of Republicans indicated they believe the UN is necessary compared to 80 percent of Democrats. The split between older and younger Americans is less pronounced but there is still a 20 point spread. A total of 76 percent of young Americans (18 - 29 years of age) feel that the UN is necessary, while only 56 percent of Americans over 65 share that view.

A January 2013 Heart Reseach poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans (86 percent) believe it’s important for the US to maintain an active role within the UN.

According to Nellie Bristol, the CSIS report's author, UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) matter to the US because they are:

  • An effective tool for rallying resources for and attention to priority development issues worldwide. Donors and many developing countries explicitly use the goals as an organizing framework for foreign assistance delivery and application. 
  • The goals sometimes played a behind the scenes role in US funding decisions, (although US programs have retained their own identities). Recent examples of their influence in the US include Feed the Future, AIDS-Free Generation, and the Child Survival Call to Action. 
  • US development assistance feeds into progress on the MDGs, including goals 1 and 4 through 6, as they reflect long-standing US commitments to food security, maternal and child health, and combating infectious diseases.

Bristol goes on to say that going forward American input is critical to the future of global development:

"As the process gets under way to develop successor goals to the MDGs, U.S. involvement is critical to ensure UN goals continue to reflect U.S. strategies, to generate U.S. input into the future development agenda, and to foster political buy-in into growing development needs that are likely to go beyond traditional U.S. priorities."

To access to the full report click here.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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