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Millennium Development Goal 8: Indicators for International Human Rights Obligations?
Abstract

Millennium Development Goal 8 is arguably the most significant step since the Covenant on Economic Social Rights in taking the idea of global solidarity and international responsibilities for development from a statement of principle to international policy. It commits the international community to strengthen partnership for poverty reduction, and defines benchmark targets and indicators of progress. This article examines this goal as a human rights tool to measure progress and hold states accountable. It argues that the concept of international obligations concerns, at the core, state policies that address obstacles that developing countries cannot address on their own. It also presents a conceptual framework for human rights measures. The article then analyses Goal 8 indicators and targets against the commitments made in the 2000 Millennium Declaration and the 2002 Monterrey Consensus, as well as policy priorities identified in recent studies commissioned by the United Nations. The article concludes that Goal 8 is weak as a human rights framework because it lacks quantitative and time bound benchmarks. The targets are expressed as general objectives rather than concrete policy changes and it is narrow in the scope of policy issues addressed. For the human rights agenda, the most glaring gaps are the need for systemic reforms to enhance the needs of developing countries in international decision making. The article calls on the international community to review Goal 8, and shift international cooperation from charity to solidarity.