UNDP Panel Discusses Human Development Index
(With Patrick Fiedler)
Colleagues from Citizens for Global Solutions and we attended a panel discussion on Thursday, January 28, 2010, hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) entitled "Rethinking Human Development - Part One." The "Part One" indicates that this is the first of a series of such presentations to be offered during the year.
The panelists were Anne-Marie Slaughter, Director of the Office of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department; Kemal Dervis, former Administrator of UNDP currently at The Brooking Institution, and Jeni Klugman, Director of UNDP Human Development Report Office, all moderated by David Yang, Senior Advisor in the Washington Office of UNDP.
The focus of the panel was UNDP's "Human Development Index" (HDI), a ranking of nations that relies on measures of education, health and income, seeking to measure human well-being rather than merely economic growth.
The "Sarkozy Commission," headed by France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, has spearheaded a push to further legitimize the HDI and recommended that the HDI include improved and expanded indicators. In the panel discussion, Dr. Dervis suggested a greater reliance on "medians" rather than averages or "means" to make data more comparable.
Each of the panelists referred to a December address at Georgetown University by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton in which she expressed the importance of a U.S. foreign policy that emphasizes ensuring human rights. U.S. foreign policy, she said, should adhere to American values "including the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the prerequisite for building a world in which every person has the opportunity to live up to his or her God-given potential." From this perspective human rights are not merely a complement to foreign policy - considerations of human rights help guide the foreign policy decisions.
Dr. Klugman emphasized that the 2010 HDI will focus on implementation of human rights policies, not merely the empty expression of those policies. Dr. Slaughter thought that refinements to the HDI were valuable in that they will allow the more accurate measurement of progress to human development goals (or the absence of such progress).
We wondered whether the UNDP's work would be strengthened if the U.S. were to ratify U.N. multilateral treaties that support the principles of human development, such as the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Dr. Dervis seemed to agree, asserting that, "In a world with globalized issues effecting human development, a multi-partner approach is necessary."
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