Upon first taking office, Barack Obama promised that his presidency would be all about hope. He made this offer to foreigners as well as Americans. Five years on, Obama is fighting conflicts that stubbornly refuse to end, but he still has a potent diplomatic weapon. It is not hope, but fear.
Diplomats are facing a “100 times good” temptation as they work to establish new United Nations global objectives for development, known as Sustainable Development Goals, that will help set an overarching narrative for the world’s progress for the next 15 years.
There was fighting talk at last week’s NATO summit in Wales. The alliance’s leaders pulled few punches in criticizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine and agreed on plans to counter future provocations by Moscow. The U.S. corralled a posse of its allies to coordinate the fight in Iraq against the Islamic State. After a summer characterized by global turbulence and ill-concealed uncertainty in both the U.S. and Europe over how to react, the summit signaled that the West has some sense of shared purpose.
In July 2014, the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development proposed a universal set of post-2015 goals and targets to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The draft consists of 17 ambitious goals for social, economic and environmental sustainable development by 2030. Through the negotiations countries have agreed that the framework should be: universal – applying to all countries; focused on poverty eradication and sustainability; and “transformational”.