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13 - International Obligations for Economic and Social Rights: The Case of the Millennium Development Goal Eight

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 December 2009

Shareen Hertel
University of Connecticut
Lanse Minkler
University of Connecticut
Sakiko Fukuda-Parr
Professor in the Graduate Programin International Affairs, The New School (New York)
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The idea of human rights as universal – that all human beings, by virtue of the fact that they are human, have certain entitlements to lead a life of freedom and dignity – is one of the most cherished principles of human rights. Yet there is much ambiguity in both law and theory about whether the obligations to respect, promote, and protect these rights stop at the boundaries of a nation state. This question has drawn increasing interest in recent years as the international community has been calling for urgent action to end extreme poverty, especially with the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as an international consensus. These Goals set quantitative targets for reducing poverty by 2015. They also contain a goal for stronger partnership of the international community to help developing countries achieve these goals. The purpose of this chapter is to examine Goal 8 as an instrument of international human rights obligation to measure progress and hold states accountable.

The chapter is structured as follows: the first section reviews the way in which international obligations of solidarity have been reflected in international human rights instruments and international development cooperation policy. The second section focuses on measurement issues including conceptual approaches and indicators for assessing progress. The third section attempts to identify the content of international obligations for economic and social rights. The final section examines the adequacy of Goal 8 targets and indicators in monitoring those obligations.

Economic Rights
Conceptual, Measurement, and Policy Issues
, pp. 284 - 309
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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