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#OGP15

Is adoption of governance as a SDG an empty gesture?

Vinay Bhargava's picture



The adoption of governance focused SDG #16 and its targets is being claimed a great victory for proponents of good governance.
 
All UN member states approved the goal to “build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels” and committed to develop action plans to achieve targets that “substantially reduce corruption”, practice “responsive, inclusive and participatory decision making”, and “ensure public access to information.”
 
On the surface this appears to be a major paradigm shift from the MDGs.

A closer examination suggests that these intentions have a caveat that may weaken the supposed shift in the political economy of governance for development. All of these commitments are subject to national legislations that vary broadly in scope in terms of access to information, public participation and strength of anti-corruption policies and institutions. Moreover, governments involved have different opinions on what key concepts such as rule of law, fundamental freedoms, and accountable institutions mean.