United Nations Human Development Report and the Need for International Democratization
The 2002 United Nations Human Development Report (UNHDR) is the result of many years’ study of international human progress and development. As declared in the first page of the report, "[This report] is about how political power and institutions, formal and informal, national and international, shape human progress". This statement outlines the principal theme of power dynamics and fragmentation (politics) on varying levels, public and private, rich and poor, male and female, etc. - that runs consistently throughout the work, analyzing global trends of political participation and democracy.
According to the UNHDR, human development is politically determined, not only socially and economically so as represented in many studies. The Report operates under the basic assumption that the current world is more free and more just than ever before, but that democracy (including structures of political participation, economic justice, health and education, and peace and personal security) is necessary to improve human development and to protect the freedom and dignity of all people.
Although the Report is outwardly concerned with all democratic countries, industrialized or not, it is most significant to developing democracies where necessary reforms in human development have not yet been realized. As expressed by lead author, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, this year’s Report emphasizes the growing divisions between "those who prosper... and those who do not... between the powerful and the powerless, between those who welcome the new global economy and those who demand a different course."
At times it seems as though both sufficient coherence and evidence are lacking (due to the Report’s monumental task of categorizing, defining, critiquing and giving examples of all areas of human development), overall, however, the document provides logical arguments that successfully necessitate reformed, participatory, accountable, "full" democratic governance for improved human development. As will be demonstrated in this essay, the Report effectively answers four key questions that are fundamental to an understanding of progress in human development.
First, the Reports asks, what is human development and why is it important? On the most basic level, human development is the social, economic and political progress of a society. Such development is crucial to humanity because it drives our desire to achieve the "good life"; without such aspirations for success and happiness, communities and governance would be without utility, and societies would cease to exist. From a liberal-democratic perspective, human development is having the means and ability to fight for one’s rights, to gain access to crucial information and markets, and, central to human empowerment, having decision-making power in one’s life. Fundamental to human development, then, is human dignity and freedom. As...