Welcome to the Global Technocracy. SDG Indicators Adopted by UNGA

By Stefano Gennarini, J.D. | July 6, 2017

I am sad to report that despite our efforts to purge the indicators of controversial elements the General Assembly adopted an indicator framework for the SDGs this morning without as much as a reservation on what the IAEG has come up with so far. While some regard this as a victory, we see this as a very dangerous precedent of states giving the UN technocracy a blank check.

While the indicators for the 2030 Agenda, like the MDG indicators, will be for the most part useless, at least on select issues they may prove very influential for better or for worse, including on the hot-button issues, and especially in poor countries. Powerful or wealthy countries that do not want to pay attention to the indicators will ignore them. But poor countries that desperately need the support of the UN system will be subjected to entire framework as if it were normative.

The statistical methodologies so far proposed by the UN bureaucracy for measuring the final list of indicators in the resolutions would use notions such as “sexual orientation and gender identity,” “comprehensive sexuality education” for young children, and access to contraception and abortion for children as young as 10.

We had great success last year blocking this resolution. Sadly, this year our side was silenced by appeasing rhetoric and confusing messaging from some on our side and the UN bureaucracy. The resolution and the process for its adoption made sure that sovereign states have completely abdicated their authority and oversight on the indicators leaving it up entirely to the UN system.

We fought hard in the 2030 Agenda negotiations to ensure the GA would have the last word on the indicators to make sure that countries that object to LGBT, CSE and abortion rights could have their say, but they chose not to because of appeasing rhetoric from delegations purportedly on our side. Moreover, revisions of the indicators in 2020 and 2025 will not require GA review like the initial list. So the UN system has a blank slate to work with come 2020.

Here is the adopted resolution. This is not the final say. We need to keep fighting in the IAEG, StatCom, and GA. The indicators will be an ongoing thing now.

The problem is political UN bodies have now given up on indicator vetting and left it entirely to statisticians who are not aware of political issues. The result is that UN bureaucrats from DESA and UN agencies will basically decide what indicators to use promising statistical offices around the world capacity building money. Read: hire new personnel, give yourself a raise. This is an offer they can’t refuse, and statisticians from around the world will understandably end up accepting the indicators without a peep, as they already have.

Welcome to the global technocracy.