With the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) expiration
date coming closer on September 2015 it is pertinent to analyze them from their
theoretical point of view to explain their successes and failures. The brief
analysis I will develop here is based on International Relations (IR) and
Development Economics (DE) theories. The importance of such analysis is that
with a flawed theory the design of public policies can be ineffective to solve
the problems they address or the comprehension of the social phenomena may be
incomplete. Thinking on liberal IR school terms the MDG are an instrument of
cooperation that States use to promote social progress. The objectives are to
optimize all resources to increase the benefits we get from them. Seen from the
realist IR school the MDG can be described as an instrument the States promote
to keep their own security and power for their survival in the best conditions.
This can be only understood when the States are seen as a part of a globalized
economic system where they need commodities and labor imported from other countries
to maintain their economies’ levels competitive. From a Marxist point of view
MDG can be seen as an instrument the States that possess most of the means of
production promote to maintain the minimum level of survival for the labor force
so much needed for accumulation of capital and the increase of the profit.
The review that can be done from the DE approaches is very similar given the historical background of the development of the theories themselves. Produced in developing countries, especially in Latin America and Asia, one of the two strongest schools, the International dependence theory, has neoMarxist routes. The other strong school is the neoliberal. Seen from the International dependency theory, the MDG are a mechanism through which developed countries perpetuate the capitalist system by, intentionally or unintentionally, promoting policies in developing countries that benefit them and reinforce the dependency to developed countries. Here, the problem is evaluated from the policies the developed countries suggest (through diplomacy in multilateral organisms such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, United Nations, etc. and the promotion of certain economic, political and social theories) to boost economic growth in the developing countries to help them leave underdevelopment behind starting from the premise that if developing countries follow the recipes used by developed countries, they will become developed.
Finally, the neoliberal school defends the position of the free-market, the small state with minimum intervention, financial liberalization and industrial privatization. For this they need the most basic needs of humans covered to have a rule of law strong enough to allow such a market organization to survive, therefore explaining the existence of the MDG. This is the dominant vision. It is so strong it has transcended the science and is the most used reference for the implementation of public policies, including the foreign affairs.
This is just a starting point for your further research.