An Alternative Post-2015 Agenda
by Bhaskar Menon on 18 Aug 2015 0 Comment

As noted in my last post, the draft of the post 2015 agenda that governments have agreed upon is the disastrous product of a dysfunctional UN. To show what a meaningful agenda could be, I’ve drafted the text below. If governments go ahead with their agreed text I invite civil society organizations to consider adapting and adopting the following. 


We live at a time when the growth of global connectivity has ushered in a range of new political, economic and social realities and opened up unprecedented potentials for sustainable human development.

Within the next 15 years we can realistically look forward to ending poverty and war, the most formidable obstacles to sustainable development. 

In the process we can eliminate also the interrelated scourges of drug trafficking, terrorism and organized crime which at present exact a huge cost in lives and treasure from the poorest countries of the world.

To realize these objectives there are two fundamental requirements.

One is the full partnership of men and women and nations large and small in repairing a world devastated by the poisonous processes of the industrial age. 

The other is the fundamental reform of the United Nations system of agencies. 

Progress towards these ends will be framed by the values set forth in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Within that framework we recognize that nations have a sovereign right to determine their own course of development.


We endorse the Goals set out below and will take action to achieve them within our nations and in sub-regional, regional and global frameworks. We urge international agencies to prioritize South-South and Triangular modalities of cooperation wherever possible. In listing the Goals below, we set out the rationale that will guide policies and programmes and note (in italics) the action that we will take.

1] Eliminate Poverty: The extreme poverty afflicting nearly a billion people who live on less than $1:25 a day is caused by systemic factors rooted in the colonial era and sustained by current socioeconomic arrangements, especially those noted below under other Goals. We expect that as those are addressed, the problem of extreme poverty will be greatly ameliorated. To accelerate the process, we will frame specific policies and field well-funded programs to end hunger, extend good quality education to all children and ensure that the poor have access to health care. 

2] Promote Social Inclusion: Poverty is not just economic; everywhere, it is associated with forms of social exclusion and discrimination. Many who are not poor also suffer exclusion and discrimination on the basis of their gender, age and sexual preference. To counter this, we will formulate appropriate laws and policies, initiate media campaigns targeting discrimination and make social inclusion a high priority in housing, education and access to the Internet and the worldwide web.

3] Combat Organized Crime: Most of the violence visited on societies around the world is the work of criminals organized around a nexus of economic interests, especially drug trafficking. They are empowered by existing financial and legal arrangements at the global level that must be changed if we are to root out all forms of organized crime ranging from sexual exploitation of children and women to trade in counterfeit goods and environmental crimes. To that end, we pledge to:


Revoke the existing prohibitionist conventions on the manufacture, trade and use of so called “illicit drugs,” and replace them with one that will promote a medical and social approach to addiction and abuse. This will be done at the Special Session of the General Assembly that will convene in 2016 to deal comprehensively with the issue of “illicit drugs.” 


Declare illegal all “shell companies” that allow criminals to hide behind corporate identities, and subsequently, seize the assets of all entities whose beneficial ownership is not verified. To this end, the Sixth Committee of the current session of the General Assembly will inscribe a new item on its agenda and come to an agreement within a year.


Decree that banks caught laundering money will automatically lose their license to do business and that the individuals involved will be subject to mandatory prison sentences. 

4] Build Peace and Security: The action under 3 a, b and c above will eliminate organized crime as a major threat to international peace and security but state-sponsored terrorism and proxy wars for control of resources or strategic space will continue. To address those sources of violence a twin-pronged approach will be necessary.


On the one hand, we must make a concerted effort to end the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and stop the illicit trafficking in arms. On the other hand, the defensive responses of victimized societies must change. Instead of relying on heavily militarized police and secretive agencies that conduct massively intrusive surveillance of their own citizens, the first line of defense should be community-level organizations working with lightly armed local police organizations. To these ends, we resolve to: 


Work with corporations manufacturing weapons to create a clear, transparent and global registry of small arms and light weapons


End the illicit trade in weapons by putting brokers out of business and into prison. 


Explore and promote community-level networks supporting local police to ensure security.

5] Change Production/Consumption Patterns: Existing patterns of production and consumption are rooted in the realities of the industrial era that are now fading under the influence of the technologies of the Information Age. The Internet and the Worldwide Web now allow small and medium corporations to identify and sell to niche markets, in effect destroying the mass markets essential for the survival of giant corporations. The rapid evolution of 3-D printing is making it possible for the highest quality of industrial production on a very small scale, in effect, setting at naught the single greatest advantage of mega corporations. As networks of small producers emerge to maximize their efficiencies, the mega corporations with their top-down decision-making structures and concentrated production/service centers will become increasingly inefficient dinosaurs.


This will inevitably affect patterns of trade and urbanization, especially as cheap off-grid renewable sources of energy become plentiful. In sum, these trends will change all the wasteful production and consumption patterns of the last few centuries. To accelerate the process, we will:


Review all policies based on industrial era assumptions of production and consumption, especially of fossil fuels.


Promote the evolution of 3-D printing to meet the requirements of small and remote communities.


Set in place educational systems capable of providing the highest quality of instruction in the remotest rural locations.


Encourage entrepreneurs to meet the cultural needs of remote or widely dispersed rural populations


Consider how best to adapt our nations to the reversal of long standing trends towards urbanization.

6] Reduce Social Inequalities: Growing inequalities within societies has been one of the most unsustainable of trends over the last decade, accentuating injustices that have been a characteristic of all civilizations. The most obvious difference between the haves and the have-nots, and historically the most irreducible, has been access to high quality housing.


However, as the connectivity of the Information Age has made crowd-funding a new economic reality, that great divide can now be closed. A crowd-funded housing sector can not only eliminate the issue of homeless populations, it can, in the process, rapidly expand employment, build infrastructure and drive economic growth. To make this possible a range of monetary and environmental issues will have to be ironed out. We will initiate a global research effort to illuminate and address those issues with an eye to providing housing for all by 2030. 

7] Reform the United Nations System: The system of international agencies set in place at the end of World War II 70 years ago continues to function with little change in its modalities. It adopts hundreds of resolutions every year phrased in arcane diplomatic jargon addressed mainly to governments. No one knows what actually happens to the resolutions, for there is no systematic feedback on their implementation.


To rectify this state of affairs, we will move to hook the operations of the UN System into the networked world of the 21st century. That will entail crisply action-oriented resolutions circulated on all public, expert and organizational networks worldwide, eliciting feedback and responses in a fluid interactive process.


In sum, the achievement of these goals will lead towards the long-standing UN goal of general and complete disarmament, anchoring sustainable development to deepening peace and security. It will result in a world transformed by 2030.


Bhaskar Menon blogs at and  

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