Global Goals – the UN experience

2003 Occasional Paper
By Jolly, Richard

Since the United Nations Development Decade of the 1960s, governments have agreed in the UN on a number of time bound quantitative goals to as guidelines and benchmarks to influence national and international action and development assistance. Contrary to much opinion, many of these goals have had a major influence on subsequent action and many have been largely or considerably achieved. This paper reviews this experience, summarises the wide range of goals adopted, underlines the need for a more nuanced and critical approach to what is meant by goal achievement and draws lessons for the process of pursuing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and for the HDR 2003. Goals, in this paper, are taken to mean quantitative, time-bound objectives. Global goals are taken to cover all UN goals which were applied to a sizeable number of countries, mostly all developing countries or all developing countries within a particular region or groups of countries, like the least developed.