The Art of the Impossible: Measurement Choices and the Post-2015 Development Agenda

40 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2013 Last revised: 28 Aug 2013

See all articles by Malcolm Langford

Malcolm Langford

University of Oslo, Faculty of Law, Department of Public and International Law

Date Written: December 20, 2012

Abstract

Despite the recognised weaknesses of the Millennium Development Goals the embedment of indicators within a simple global measurement framework has proved compelling and communicable. The result is a surge of interest in the design of the post-2015 agenda. This has produced innumerable and innovative proposals for new goals and targets and a backlash from those wishing to maintain a focused, statistically robust and politically feasible framework. This paper argues that a third perspective is soon needed – the criteria for making choices between different options. These choices will and should be ultimately political choices but it is worth considering on what basis they should be made. The Rio Declaration 2012 establishes a number of criteria for this purpose but they remain at a general level and gloss over some hard trade-offs. This paper begins by surveying the context for the post-2015 discussion (Section 1), considers the potential functions and purposes of the post-2015 agenda in light of the impact of the MDGs (Section 2); proposes criteria for both thematic selection and measurement (Section 3); and applies these criteria to the seemingly hard case of human rights and governance (Section 4).

Suggested Citation

Langford, Malcolm, The Art of the Impossible: Measurement Choices and the Post-2015 Development Agenda (December 20, 2012). University of Oslo Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2013-24. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2208314 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2208314

Malcolm Langford (Contact Author)

University of Oslo, Faculty of Law, Department of Public and International Law ( email )

P.O. Box 6706 St. Olavs plass
N-0130 Oslo
Norway

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