Un Millennium Development Goals (Mdgs) AndThe Performance Of Turkey

Hüseyin ERGANİ (*)


The world has been going through tremendous changes and socio-economic and cultural transformation in the 20th and 21st Centuries. The countries and the communities all around the world has been affected in various ways and different rates from these changes. These ways and rates have defined the making of the “first, second and third world countries” of the Cold War era and “developed, developing and under-developed or least developed countries” of today. The disparities and the gap between these clusters of countries have reached to an alerting level in the couple of last decades.  Some countries performed well in terms of economic and social development and catching-up, whereas some others lagged behind dramatically, due to various political, historical, cultural or geographic reasons.
The disparities are two-folded and complicated in nature. The first is the disparities in socio-economic development among the countries. There are various categories ranging from developed to least-developed countries. The other involves the disparities between the communities/people within a given country.

MDGs in General:
"The Millennium Development Goals were adopted five years ago by all the world's Governments as a blueprint for building a better world in the 21st century."
Kofi Annan

There have been some attempts at global level aiming at alleviation of these disparities. Once predominantly ideological and politicized during the Cold War, these attempts gained vital importance in an environment where the gap between the poor and rich was widening, the isolation of iron curtains came to an end, the world politics has ripped off its sheer ideological perception of international affairs and globalization prevailed. There have been various efforts to address the postponed disparity question throughout the 1990s in the framework of the World Summits mainly under the aegis of the UN, the compilation of which constituted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
On 17 December 1998, the General Assembly adopted resolution 53/202  by which it decided to convene the Millennium Summit of the United Nations as an integral part of the Millennium Assembly of the United Nations in order to address the above-mentioned problem. The Summit opened at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 6 September 2000.   The MDGs consolidated by the Millennium Declaration adopted at the conclusion of the Millennium Summit as the ever comprehensive international framework which represents the ambitious quest for bridging the gap among and within world communities. They also represent collective will and resolve of governments, responding to the world's main development challenges and to the calls of civil society, to address the issues ranging from eradication of poverty, better health conditions through combating the HIV/AIDS and other diseases, better education, maternal health, child mortality, gender

The MDGs are an agreed set of goals that were intended to and can certainly be achieved by 2015 deadline, if all actors, public, private and even individuals work together and do their part. Poor countries have pledged, on their part, to ensure good governance, and invest in health care and education for their people. Rich countries have pledged to support them in their efforts, through aid, debt relief, and fairer trade.

Linking development with security and human rights:

The scientific researches show that, economically backward countries are more prone to insecurity, instability and human rights violations. And unlike the past, a globalized world makes it more difficult for any country to stay immune from instability and problems occurring even at most remote parts of the world. New epidemics like avian influenza once again shown that the diseases which outbreaks at some parts of the world can easily be transferred to other parts regardless of development level because of high mobility of people and goods. 

That is the reason why economic and social threats, particularly poverty, infectious diseases and environmental  degradation, should be addressed by the international community as an integral part of global collective security, without losing sight of the benefits of development as a pillar on its own. The report of the UN Secretary General issued in March 2005 adopts a holistic approach towards the issue of global development.  The report successfully and rightfully underlines the linkage between the global security, development and the human rights.

The eradication of poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and requires structural changes and reform. It is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development as well as global stability. Therefore, each country has the primary responsibility for its own sustainable development and poverty eradication policies. Concerted and concrete measures of all stakeholders are required at all levels to enable the developing countries to achieve the MDG’s.  In order to achieve the MDG’s a significant increase in resources for financing for development is imperative. In this context, the urgency of the implementation of commitments regarding the increase in the official development aid and their quick delivery to those in need is essential. 

Question of Implementation:

Setting the targets with global consensus is a great achievement in itself, yet the challenge comes from the implementation. However, the developments so far are not promising and cast shadow over the realism of the targets. International community is yet to develop more effective schemes and mechanisms for implementation of the targets.

The most important challenge comes from financing. There are donor countries who pledge money but when it comes to living up to commitments, they usually fall short. This creates disappointment in respect of planning and implementation. 

Many-folded complications of the disparities and the problems dictate the international community a multi-dimensional approach to cope with these problems. Implementation is naturally expected to be at global, regional, national and local, even individual levels and necessitates international co-operation and co-ordination. Implementation is coordinated globally by the UN. In the regional layer, sets of countries sharing similar sets of problems coordinate their efforts through regional international structures. UN Regional Economic and Social Commissions play an important role in this regard. National domain on the other hand is the one where governments have primary responsibility. The private sector as well as the civil society and even individuals have a part to do in this endeavor. In a globalized world each of the units mentioned above would have an interface with each other. This means that each of the units ranging from global international organizations to the individual human-beings has a part to do at all levels, in order to contribute to the achievement of the Goals. The governments have responsibility to their people as well as to the governments and people of other countries which have development problems. The private sector, especially the multinationals, may have significant contributions. International organizations as well, have a role to play for regional and global mobilization and coordination of these efforts through result-oriented strategies.

Practical schemes for Implementation:

In the meantime, several practical schemes had been developed by the UN as well as by the governments that would help improve the prospects for achieving the goals. Among all, the Millennium Project is the most ambitious one with its MDG-based poverty reduction strategies. However, the international community shall be precarious that it should not create an additional burden for the developing countries and not lead to new and time consuming planning exercises.  Millennium Project puts emphasis on the principle of national ownership in identifying priorities and strategies for country programs. This is in line with the widely shared concept of “one size does not fit all”.
“Global Compact” which was introduced by the UNSG Annan in 2000, on the other hand, as a voluntary initiative, brings in the concept of “responsible private sector”. Through collective action, the Global Compact seeks to promote responsible corporate citizenship so that business can be part of the solution to the challenges of globalization. In this way, the private sector – in partnership with other social actors – can help realize the vision of a more sustainable and inclusive global economy. The Global Compact is a purely voluntary initiative with the objectives of mainstreaming some principles in business activities around the world and catalyzing actions in support of UN goals. To achieve these objectives, the Global Compact offers facilitation and engagement through several mechanisms: Policy Dialogues, Learning, Country/Regional Networks, and Projects.
French Government identified and introduced a specific fund raising framework which envisages mandatory taxation of airways tickets. However many stakeholders have had scepticism about the proposal as it involves substantial complications for airways business which has been undergoing a crisis after the 11 September terrorist acts. The French proposal was not so much appealing also because a kind of charity issue was to be imposed by the governments on the people and the business, and process of using funds would not be participatory for those who make a kind of “mandatory donations”. 

US Government announced an ambitious plan in 2005, for fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa with huge financial support. Although the US Government do not recognize the MDGs, mainly because of the doctrines that differentiate between consecutive US administrations, this is also a remarkable contribution to the achievement of one of the health related MDGs. Mainly deriving from the row over the Kyoto Protocol on green-house gasses limitations, and the responsibility that the MDGs put for financing on the shoulders of the developed countries, US prefers “the internationally agreed development goals” instead of MDGs. Although this does not hamper the overall internationally recognized status of the MDGs, as the US is the key country in the volume of the green-house gas releases, and this has a significant negative effect on the environmental domain of the MDGs.

The TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement is a very practical and instrumental framework which enables the citizens of the least developed countries suffering from HIV/AIDS to procure generic anti-retrovirals with affordable price.

The facilities accorded to the status of the “least developed countries” are also instrumental in developing global partnerships that would help those countries to find sustainable ways for their economic and social development.

Official Development Assistance (ODA) consensus in the framework of the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, which will be explained below can also be cited among the practical implementation schemes.


MDGs monitoring takes place at global and country levels. It is UN General Assembly which undertakes global monitoring annually through the reports of the UNSG and takes action as necessary.

The governments are responsible for implementation, at the local level, of the Goals and report to the UN General Assembly. There are review processes the first of which has been carried out in September 2005 as the MDGs + 5 Review Summit. At the said Review Summit, it was evident that the world is far from achieving the MDGs and unless substantial efforts are concentrated to that aim, prospects for achieving them seem to be unlikely. Turkey presented its national report to the MDGs + 5 Review Summit in 2005.

Relevant Complementary Processes at Global Level:

There were two other UN Summits held after the Millennium Summit of 2000 and before the Review Summit of 2005.

The continuation of the Rio Summit of 1992 on Environment and Development, Johannesburg Summit of 2002 which is also called “the World Summit on Sustainable Development” was an attempt to address in a sustainable manner the issues of economic development, social development and environmental protection. It reiterates the resolve of the governments at the top level to address many issues also set out in the MDGs. The Monterrey Summit on Financing for Development of 2003, on the other hand, envisages allotment of 0.7 percent of GNP to developing countries and 0.15-0.20 percent of GDP to the least developed countries as Official Development Assistance (ODA). Both of the said Summits are closely linked to the MDGs as they were highly relevant to the core spirit of the MDGs.

Although criticized by the anti-globalization campaigners, WTO trade talks too, have relevance with the MDGs. Doha Ministerial Conference of the WTO in 2001 relates to the development agenda and the MDGs in its attempt to have development issue at the heart of the WTO negotiations. The member countries have agreed on a mandate for negotiations on a number of subjects ranging from agriculture, services, market access, as well as implementation of the existing Agreements, TRIPS and geographical indications. It involves, in several ways, development cooperation between the developed and the developing world. If the developing countries co-operate well and take up the issues of their interest in a coordinated and organized manner, they can wield their power more effectively in WTO negotiations, improving the prospects to convince their developed partners for fairer trade. The TRIPS Agreement concluded in the framework of Doha Ministerial Conference was enabling the people suffering from the HIV/AIDS in the underdeveloped countries to procure generic anti-retrovirals with affordable prices was a promising achievement. The failure in Cancun caused by agricultural talks was remedied at Hong Kong Ministerial meeting of the WTO to an extent where the governments have agreed on a scheme for continuation of negotiations. Once the trade blocks acknowledge the essence of each other and their interdependence, as well as the fact that it does not necessarily need to be a zero-sum-game and all can win in a partnership, there may be more comprehensive deals that would help develop a global partnership for development.

The overall reform of the UN system also worths mentioning in the context of the MDGs implementation because it will have important implications once accomplished. The negotiations in the reform process put development issues at the heart of the UN Collective Security system. ECOSOC reform on the other hand aims to make the one of the most substantial UN bodies more effective, responsive and functional. Yet there are a lot to be done in order to broker a consensus between the UN member countries. Turkey attaches great importance to the interaction and cooperation between ECOSOC and the Bretton Woods Institutions, which provide opportunities to discuss the global development agenda. This interaction should be strengthened to encourage collective action to support the MDG’s and the Monterrey Consensus. The general governance of the individual and specialized institutions should be part of the overall framework of a reformed and renewed UN.

Turkey’s Performance:

In the national domain, Turkey’s performance is better than many developing countries. Some of the goals have already been accomplished. Accession process with the EU has been the engine behind the performance. Quick recovery and over-performance of the Turkish economy after the 2001 economic crises gave momentum in the process. There is a synergy between achieving the MDGs and accession to the EU. The MDGs involve the improvement of the conditions of life of human-beings directly. EU accession process would help Turkey to fulfill its commitments for the MDGs.

Over the last two decades, Turkey has overcome critical problems in the fields of human and environmental development. Now, Turkey is on the right track towards meeting the Goals by 2015. Turkey has shown remarkable progress in reducing the gender gap and infant mortality rates. With regard to the universal primary education, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other communicable diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and joining in the international partnerships for development, Turkey has already reached all of the Millennium Development Targets. Although the legislative framework is egalitarian, there are certain problems in the areas such as gender equality and empowerment of women, as well as achieving universal primary education. But there are concerted efforts to overcome these shortcomings through public campaigns and incentives. Maternal and child mortality rates are still high although there are significant improvements, however the Ministry of Health is implementing programs and campaigns, in co-operation with the WHO to further reduce the mortality rates. These campaigns have promising results.

Concerning the commitments for the global domain, Turkey aims at putting particular emphasis on development issues in the Security Council Agenda as the linkage between the two domains has been acknowledged by all parties. As agreed in the UN Millennium Summit, the States have pledged to intensify their efforts towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Turkey particularly attaches importance to the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger (1st goal), and developing a global partnership for development (8th goal).

The total Official Development Assistance (ODA) provided by Turkey in 2004 amounts to USD 340 million, and it is expected to be around USD 600 million in 2005. Furthermore, Turkey is committed to do her part in addressing the needs of the Least Developed Countries. In this respect, Turkey is a donor country for the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility, established by the IMF in 1999.

Turkey supports the international efforts with respect to the infrastructure development and harmonization of transport regulations in the Landlocked Developing Countries, and also the efforts regarding the sustainable development of the Small Island Developing Countries. Turkish International Cooperation Agency is the legal entity to provide technical assistance to the newly independent Central Asian, Caucasus and Balkan countries as well as developing countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Turkey has declared 2006, as the “Year of Latin America”, and 2005, as the “Year of Africa”, with a view to contributing to the international efforts to alleviate the hardships faced by the least developed countries. There is substantial increase in the aid to the LDCs in the last couple of years.

The Way Ahead : What Needs to Be Done

As there are so many challenges to achieve the MDGs, the world community needs to be very creative in devising new strategies and means in their efforts.

Raising money is an important issue and a difficult task but spending them to targeted projects in an effective and efficient manner is more challenging. In kind contributions also can be instrumental if we can   set up national and global pools that could bring together offers and needs/projects that would match. However we should be careful in avoiding bureaucracy which will otherwise consume money and energy.

Donor countries have principal capacity and responsibility in MDGs implementation. Pledges made by the donor countries should be paid timely in order to direct them to MDGs implementation projects and to avoid the disappointment incurred by non-payment on other potential donors and those who take part in implementation processes. Countries should better abstain pledging money unless they are certain that they can materialize them.

At the global level, more effective coordination is needed. Some strategies that would guide the nations in their endeavors would be instrumental. However, one-fits-all strategies will cause waste of source and energy, because each country has its own peculiar dynamics.

The external debt issue should be considered with all its aspects and in an unrestricted manner, so that the promotion of policies for the creation and mobilization of funds to alleviate the debt burden can be properly addressed.  The recommendation of the UN Secretary General regarding the debt cancellation for the least developed and developing countries, and the concurrence with them through practical implementation by developed countries is encouraging.

Greater market access to developing countries and enhanced cooperation to increase their capacities and competitiveness in order to scale up their ability to trade is an important, yet controversial goal, however, we should also bear in mind the legitimate concerns of the developing countries if we are to provide immediate duty free and quota free market access for all exports from the least developed countries. 

At the national levels, the line ministries and institutions should be aware of their responsibilities and plan their activities accordingly, taking the MDGs as reference points. The private sector and civil society should be encouraged to concert their efforts in the same direction.

In this context, the vital economic role played by the small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in the developing countries should be taken into consideration. SMEs should be supported through micro-finance and micro-grant systems in order to help them to be integrated into the cycle of contributions for the realization of the MDGs.

The principles of good governance and accountability at the national level are essential components for development activities. It is necessary to create an entirely transparent public domain to fully adopt the principle of accountability to ensure the means for fast access to information and to effectuate the principles of productivity and effectiveness.  This will also give the donor countries and partners the sense that the support they give is well properly utilized.

The private sector, civil society and individuals should be involved in this process through more effective means. But the nature of this engagement shall be voluntary by definition, otherwise it will be counter-productive.

In order to create the “sense of ownership and responsibility” among all donors and stakeholders, mass media campaigns that would familiarize institutions and people to MDGs, would be useful, both at global and national levels.

All in all, we would consider launching a “Global MDGs Mobilization Campaign” where every entity; governments, international institutions, private companies, civil society institutions and even individuals, would find a space to act and contribute.  


1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day
- Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
2.  Achieve universal primary education
- Ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling

3. Promote gender equality and empower women
- Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015

4.  Reduce child mortality
- Reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five

5.  Improve maternal health
- Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
- Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases
7.  Ensure environmental sustainability
- Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
- Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water
- Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
8. Develop a global partnership for development
- Develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory, includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction— nationally and internationally
- Address the least developed countries' special needs. This includes tariff- and quota-free access for their exports; enhanced debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries; cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous official development assistance for countries committed to poverty reduction
- Address the special needs of landlocked and small island developing States
- Deal comprehensively with developing countries' debt problems through national and international measures to make debt sustainable in the long term
- In cooperation with the developing countries, develop decent and productive work for youth
- In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
- In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies— especially information and communications technologies


1- Turkey’s Millennium Development Goals 2005, Report to the MDGs + 5 Summit (14-16 September 2005) Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey
2- In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all; Report of the Secretary-General of the UN, 2005
3- OECD/DAC Development Co-operation Report, 2005
4- Report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change; A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, 2004
5- WTO Annual Report, 2005

(*) Başkatip, Çok Taraflı Ekonomik İşler Genel Müdür Yardımcılığı, Dışişleri Bakanlığı
equality, protection of environment, quality of human life and global partnerships for the financing development, by 2015. (See Annex)