The Millennium Development Goals in U.S. National Security Strategy

The Obama Administration’s National Security Strategy drops today. No big surprises for those who have been following Administration rhetoric and action over the past eighteen months or so.  The United Nations and “UN issues” — like global health, genocide prevention, and fighting poverty — feature prominently. The “Millennium Development Goals” are even mentioned by name.

This is a first for a U.S. National Security Strategy.  Though the MDGs have been in place since 2000, the Bush administration never made mention of them in its 2002 or 2006 National Security Strategy. For the Obama administration, however, the MDGs provide a framework to approach what it calls “dignity promotion.” To wit, this is the opening graf of the section titled “Promote Dignity By Meeting Basic Needs:”

The freedom that America stands for includes freedom from want. Basic human rights cannot thrive in places where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive. The United States has embraced the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals and is working with others in pursuit of the eradication of extreme poverty—efforts that are particularly critical to the future of nations and peoples of Africa.

The document then outlines the administration’s efforts to pursue a comprehensive global health strategy, promote food security and provide humanitarian relief during crises as examples of its efforts on “dignity promotion.”  

Many in the aid community will likely be parsing this section for hints as to what to expect from an on-going administration review of American policy toward the Millennium Development Goals. That review is due before a major MDG conference at the United Nations in September.  At the very least, though, the document formally establishes broad support for the MDGs — in name and in concept– across the administration.  Consdering where we have been, that’s progress.