To Be Truly Effective, SDGs Should Address, Advance Democracy

Quartz: How the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals undermine democracy
Jeffrey Smith, founding director of Vanguard Africa, and Alex Gladstein, chief strategy officer of the Human Rights Foundation

“…Billions of dollars of investment have been spent and donated to [the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]. … There is one glaring problem: the SDGs are pushing an agenda carefully calibrated to avoid upsetting the world’s dictators, kleptocrats, and this century’s worst human rights offenders. Search the 17 SDGs and you will fail to find a single mention of the word ‘democracy.’ Out of thousands of words of text, ‘human rights’ is mentioned merely once (and not as its own category, but as a secondary bullet point). … In other words, the basic freedoms that underpin and advance human development are missing from the SDG equation. … Until we collectively focus on the true building blocks of democracy, abusive leaders and dictators will continue to be feted at glitzy conferences, pat each other on the back with a wink and a nod, and maintain a brutal level of repression against their own people. What’s more, the repression will continue to proliferate under a faulty and counterproductive guise of ‘development.’ It is time to change course” (6/7).