HLP report on the Post-2015 Development Framework - Business … as usual

The HLP released its report at the end of May, after a “lengthy and broad consultation” process. The Trade Union movement welcomes the tone of the report when it comes to setting the desired outcomes and expressing the ambition to challenge some of the major obstacles to sustainable development. The option to consider the world as one and address development objectives as relevant for all societies and people is clearly a step forward, considering the scope of the previous generation of MDGs. However, upon reaching the HLPs recommendations, illustrative goals and proposed concrete targets, fundamental shortcomings and ideological bias emerge.

In the preliminary opinion, that is now open for discussion by the Trade Union Development Cooperation Network, a number of specifics are at the heart of our concerns as workers and trade unions: decent work, social protection, social dialogue and democratic ownership. Others have issued similar opinions and revealed other specific concerns that we share (e.g. the Women Major Group and others)

Overall, the ‘invisible hand’ of the private sector has clearly influenced the recommendations as market friendly approaches and business driven targets are interwoven throughout the report. Like many others, we are concerned about an apparent for profit commodification of the world’s global goods and the place of people herein as mere factors of production and/or consumption.
We are also highly concerned with the distortion of the rights based approaches, enshrined in the many Human Rights based conventions and declaration, through the promotion of voluntary, non-binding and uncommitted targets and hence the lack of accountability within the proposed system.

The Decent Work Agenda is sacrificed in favour of “good jobs”, Social Protection becomes social assistance and business is called upon to contribute to development through self-regulation and charitable sharing of benefits/profits. This new paternalism is indeed the main colour of the new proposed framework.

Besides the further commodification of the world’s development pattern and the new paternalistic approach we are also concerned by the growing democratic deficit that undercuts the HLP process’ legitimacy. It is obvious that the loose “consultation” system and the partiality in representation of civil society (only private business) have largely allowed the ‘invisible hand’ to mold the report to its wishes. The new development architecture must confront the democratic deficit by ensuring participatory process from the outset. It must be rights based and normative so as to allow appropriate and coherent action at country level and meaningful monitoring and assessment at global and regional level, again on a multistakeholder basis. The “democratic ownership” approach should by itself be rights based and eliminate the superficial “consultation” approach. Elaborating a “new” development strategy in the coming months cannot anymore be, as usual, business…

Article by Jan Dereymaeker, ITUC/TUDCN

- Read the Stakeholder Responses to the HLP Report

- Read the detailed trade union’s preliminary reaction to the HLP report - Some fresh paint, but the same busted engine ?