[Otto Spijkers is Assistant Professor of Public International Law at Utrecht University and Arron Honniball is a Student of the LL.M. Public International Law at Utrecht University]
As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approach their target date of 2015, the international community has begun developing post-2015 goals; the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A number of concurrent work streams were established, including the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP). It was emphasised throughout the resulting report of the HLP and at the launch event on May 30, 2013 that various global public consultations shaped that report and will continue to shape the SDGs development process.
In this post we wish to assess whether there is a meaningful opportunity for global public participation in the formulation of the SDGs. Are citizens, individually or organized, provided with an opportunity to influence the development, implementation and/or evaluation of the SDGs?
For international lawyers and political scientists, it is especially interesting to look at this “experiment” in global public participation. Are we witnessing the start of a new process of global policy-making, with global public consultation as one of its principal steps? Such process would proceed roughly as follows: First the UN conducts a global public consultation; then a group of experts use the results of the consultation as the basis for a comprehensive report, and this report is then the basis of a UN-led negotiation process, which will ultimately lead to commitments accepted by the community of States.