Let's discuss PGU for real!

Since 2008, the government has been violating the Vienna Declaration on the Indivisibility of Human Rights by prioritizing civil and political rights over social, economic and cultural rights in the "new PGU". The same priority can be discerned in the new development assistance policy objective that the government is now proposing. The message of domestic and development policy is that it is the duty of individuals to meet their needs for health, education and work - not the government's. It is time to discuss PGU seriously, says policy and development strategist Petra Flaum, current with a new book about PGU,

It's fascinating how much resources are put into policies, guidelines and bills - given how little consideration is given to them once they are in place.

Just think how the bill ”Shared responsibility - Sweden's policy for global development (PGU)”Has been treated for the 10 years it has existed. PGU has mostly been ignored, sometimes debated and occasionally distorted.

The fact that PGU has been distorted from time to time is also fascinating, the parliamentary preparations were solid and the bill was actually adopted by a unanimous Riksdag. So why this distortion need and where was the big blow put in?

In 2008, the government presented the `new PGU 'in the form of the letter “Global challenges - our responsibility”, Whose content differs from PGU in many crucial respects. What was not said, however, was that a letter can never override a bill - despite this, Swedish development cooperation has mostly been based on this letter since then.

But before we start comparing PGU with the 2008 letter, what is it that makes PGU so unique? With PGU, a holistic approach to development was introduced - insights from The Brundtland report were woven together into what I call PGU's generic framework. This framework consists of interrelated, interplaying and interdependent parts that together form a system. It is thus not possible to remove any of PGU's individual parts without affecting the entire sustainability system.

PGU's generic framework consists of the parts:

• Vision: a just sustainable development, a world without poverty

• Motive: solidarity

• Overall goal: to contribute to a fair sustainable global development

• Ongoing goals: to create conditions for poor people to improve their living conditions

• Two methodological approaches: collaboration and coherence

• Two normative perspectives: the rights perspective and the perspective of the poor

It is thus these goals and perspectives that we must jointly collaborate on and act in accordance with.

Is there anything that is really outdated in PGU? Yes, in PGU, poverty reduction was limited to development cooperation, which was certainly completely logical at the time. Although poverty reduction is part of the process of contributing to sustainable development, we know today that it is of course just as relevant to have a clear and distinct zero vision for poverty - even in Sweden.

Why then is PGU so politically charged? I argue that it depends on these two multidimensional starting points:

"Global development policy affects everyone. The whole of Swedish society must be involved in the work. The policy must be characterized by a rights perspective and the perspective of the poor on development. "

It may be one thing to collaborate with the person you have chosen. But engaging the people and all kinds of activities on a broad front means that politics gains greater transparency, more demands, more interpretations and, above all, increases the risk of demanding responsibility in step with transparency.

It is clear that there is enough proven methodology for us to be able to systematically incorporate a rights perspective in analyzes and evaluations. The problem is rather that the results will certainly show more dimensions than we are willing to deal with.

Then we have this with the rights perspective, which is, of course, impossible to realize due to a lack of methodology. No, I was a little ironic now. It is clear that there is enough proven methodology for us to be able to systematically incorporate a rights perspective in analyzes and evaluations. The problem is rather that the results will certainly show more dimensions than we are willing to deal with. And the poor's perspective on development, think how costly and cumbersome it would be to have to engage in dialogue with poor people to find out how they subjectively define their needs and context, at every development effort and investment. Common to PGU's three starting points is that they have an individual focus.

Back to the `new PGU 'from 2008. In it, two writings were made that shifted the focus, from the ideological watershed - the individual level - to a more` manageable' societal level.

This is how the writing in PGU reads:
"(Sustainable development) is achieved through a more coherent policy and increased collaboration between other countries and actors."

In `new PGU ', this fundamental wording is changed:
"A fair global development means respect for human rights and democracy and is achieved through growth that leads to poverty reduction."

Switzerland, the combination of institution building, good business climate and the ability to demand human rights became the new anti-poverty mechanisms and anti-poverty turned from goal to effect. I leave the claim that growth automatically leads to poverty reduction without comment - there are enough analyzes and research that deal with the existence or non-existence of a causal connection between them.

But, now that human rights are still in focus, it can not go too wrong, can it? Yes, it can. That is, if one chooses to depart from the Vienna Declaration as once for all established that human rights are indivisible. And that is exactly what was done through this second writing that shifts the focus from the individual level in the `new PGU ':

"The Government emphasizes that the realization of human rights, in particular civil and political rights, is crucial for the extension of human freedom and thus for the development process."

A transfer always takes place at the expense of something else - and in the policy pursued, it is the social, economic and cultural rights that must pay the price. Why are there no protests against Sweden openly violating the Vienna Declaration since 2008? Instead, the government is now cementing the supremacy through the proposed development assistance goal "Better living conditions for people living in poverty and oppression" which - yes, that is - particularly highlights the area of ​​human rights and democracy according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

What is the name of the area within the rights perspective that the government practices here at home, with a focus on shrinking existing institutions in parallel with the state responsibility for realizing the right to health, education and work increasingly being transferred - to individuals? Maybe the time is right for a real PGU discussion?

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