There seems to be an increasing agreement that the Post-2015 Agenda should focus on inequalities and be based on human right.
Regarding inequality earlier contributors have emphasised what I call disparity, which more that ‘inequality’ refers to the fact that we must simultaneously focus on both people living in poverty and people who are richer. For example Richard Kozul-Wright says “devoting attention to those at the bottom has resulted in insufficient attention being paid to those at the top with access to the resources needed to drive investment and create jobs”. It is indeed a matter of fact that apart from a few countries almost all countries in the world that have managed to eliminate poverty has done so primarily by redistribution of resources, primarily through progressive income taxation. For example, none of the Nordic countries would have managed to eliminate poverty without the adoption of a relatively strong progressive taxation policy. Originally this was the result of workers’ struggle and solidarity, now we know that there are also
significant economic benefits from reduced inequality.
Olivier de Schutter and others have proposed the creation of a Global Fund for Social Protection, arguing“would allow poorer States to draw on international funding to meet the basic costs of putting social protection in place”. I believe that before we discuss how such a fund would function, we need to agree on the concept of social protection. The concept of ‘social protection’ has very different meaning and consequences of the selection of priority action, depending on whether we assume a Basic Needs Approach or a Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA). The latter approach is well described and explained in a recent UNDP report (“Mainstreaming Human Rights in Development Policies and
Programming: UNDP Experiences”). It is very important that one clarifies explicitly the type of development approach one has in mind before discussion how to undertake and support development.
In a Basic Needs Approach a comprehensive set of
interventions based on assessed needs and context are identified and implemented, while in a HRBA human rights relationships are identified between claim-holders and duty-bearers (Pattern Analysis), followed by an analysis of
the capacity gaps of the claim-holders to claim their rights and of duty-bearers to meet their duties (Capacity Analysis). Actions are selected to reduce or close these gaps.
Bob Deacon brings up the important issue regarding the use
of a Social Protection Fund by suggesting “redistribution
from a global fund to support poorer countries develop a SPF should be in the form of matching funds. Every dollar in revenue raised by a country by its own fiscal policy which is earmarked for spending on its own social protection floor could be rewarded with a dollar from the fund”. This
has already proven to be true for the several cash-transfer programmes in Latin America and Africa.
I believe that it is high time to introduce some human rights-based conditionalities in international development cooperation. As is well known the Paris Principles on
Aid Effectiveness deliberately avoids any reference to human rights. I would like to suggest a Sixth Paris Principle: In order to continue receiving un-tied development assistance recipient countries must demonstrate a reduction in disparities.
Finally a word on the use of the term “the poor” (or even worse “the ultra-poor”). When I went to primary school in Sweden in the mid 1950s we were forbidden to use the term
‘disabled people’, and were taught to use the more proper term ‘people with disabilities’. Since then I never used the term ‘the poor’, but instead‘people who are poor’ or even better ‘people who live I poverty’. This is not just a play of words – it reflects a clear ideological position on
Former Regional Director UNICEF