The Trouble with Justice in UN Sustainable Development Goals

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 7, Issue 2 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the pieces. 

In this paper, the author argues that Goal 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and its associated 12 performance targets and 21 proposed provisional indicators, as well as the SDGs package as a whole adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, are not sufficiently specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. He explores two intertwined problems at the root of the problem with Goal 16—peace, nonviolence, safety, and security; access to justice, and just and inclusive societies; and effective, inclusive, and accountable institutions. The first problem lies in the lack of conceptual clarity and imprecise definitions of the goal. The second is the difficulty of translating the stated ambitions of the goal, targets and indicators into actionable performance measures of success and, ultimately, meaningful development outcomes. The author argues these problems may be more acute for Goal 16 and its 12 associated targets and 21 indicators than those of the SDGs as a whole. The goal needs to be made measurable and actionable in order for it to have a positive impact on sustainable development by 2030, the deadline set by the UN, comparable to that of the narrower predecessor Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expired at the end of 2015. The paper concludes with the recommendation of three courses of action that the author believes will result in a cohesive framework, including a set of precise indicators that constitute a balanced scorecard for assessing progress toward the elements of Goal 16— peace; just and inclusive societies; and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions. First, formulate detailed operational definitions and instructions for the performance indicators and associated targets; second, streamline the proposed provisional indicators to a more limited number of measures, i.e., a vital few trimmed from the current 21 provisional indicators; and, third, ensure that countries and their statistical offices and performance measurement departments take ownership of the framework of indicators.

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Ingo Keilitz is an Adjunct Professor at the College of William & Mary. Other affiliations he holds include the Courts and Tribunal Academy, the Sir Zelman Cowan Centre, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia (2016), the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations, and CourtMetrics. 

Policy Review Symposium: Justice Concerns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 7, Issue 2 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. This specific article is the transcription of a William & Mary Policy Review symposium, moderated by Irene Wang, which was convened in 2016. The introductory remarks of Ms. Wang are excerpted below. 

Good afternoon everyone, thank you all very much for joining the annual symposium hosted by the William & Mary Policy Review. We are a student-run, academic journal that publishes scholarly work twice every year. Today our topic will be on the justice concerns in the latest United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals 2016-2030. We are very honored to have our three speakers here on the panel. They are all both academic and field experts in economic development. We will have our speakers each speak for about 20 minutes, and then we will open up the floor for discussions. Before we start, I would like to introduce our three speakers:

Dr. Ingo Keilitz is the principal of CourtMetrics, a management consultancy in Williamsburg, Virginia, specializing in performance measurement and management in the justice sector. He is also a research associate at the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations, and a research professor at the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy at the College of William and Mary. Additionally, he is an adjunct professor at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. He is a former Senior Justice Reform Specialist at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. and former Vice President of the National Center for State Courts. He has worked with over a hundred justice institutions and legal organizations in Africa, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Mid-East, East Asia and the Pacific, Canada, and the Caribbean, as well as all 50 states of the United States, helping them to build world-class performance measurement and management processes.

Mr. Steven Sharp is an international development professional with over 25 years of field experience in community development and citizen participation. He supported global local government programs at USAID and was instrumental in establishing the Democracy Center there. Subsequently, he managed large civil society strengthening programs in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, D.R. Congo and Kenya. Last semester he taught a course at William and Mary on International Development at the Community Level. Mr. Sharp has a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida State University.

Mr. Jeremie Amoroso is a Consultant in the Education Global Practice at the World Bank Group. Prior to joining the Bank, he worked in management consulting, specifically in valuation and financial risk management. Mr. Amoroso’s background in finance and consulting is utilized to provide advisory services to Ministries of Education, implementing agencies, and universities in Croatia, Romania, Kazakhstan, and the Russian Federation. At the World Bank, he has been a contributing author for various World Bank publications on higher education financing, school resource use, school infrastructure, skills, and PISA analytics. He has also performed ex ante and ex post economic analyses on the financing of investment projects in education. Mr. Amoroso is an alumnus from the Public Policy program who graduated in 2012. We are very honored to have all of our speakers here today

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Food for Thought: Improving Canadian GM Food Safety Assessment

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Given the prevalence of GM foods in the commercial market, Canada should follow the guiding framework of the precautionary principle to prevent potential harm to human health and the environment. The author examines the transparency and impartiality challenges in the Canadian GM food regulatory regime and presents the precautionary principle as a framework that Canada should follow, as required by its international commitments. The regulatory framework and governance structure for the GM food safety assessment process is analyzed to show that the Canadian regulatory regime governing genetically modified organisms hampers the effectiveness of the precautionary principle to serve as the basis for regulatory reform in the Canadian agricultural biotechnology sector, as Health Canada appears to interpret the precautionary principle to respond to the needs of the biotechnology industry. The author subsequently suggests that Canada’s regulatory regime for GM foods could impact its ability to trade agricultural and agri-food products with the EU and Canada needs to further integrate the precautionary principle into its GM food regulatory framework to capitalize on the potential agricultural trade opportunities.

Recommendations include regulatory reform in the GM food safety assessment process to improve Canada-EU agricultural trade relations, creating a distinct regulatory regime for GM foods and re-working governance structures to establish an independent regulatory body with a mandate to ensure access to information, procedural transparency, and impartiality. The author proposes public review to address consumer concerns about the potential impacts of GM foods on health and the environment. Finally, mandatory labeling of GM foods and a public list of GM foods pending approval with a public comment period to address consumer concerns should be introduced to align the Canadian GM food regulatory regime with the guiding framework of the precautionary principle.

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Anna Poliszot is a graduate of the Master of Laws program at the University of Ottawa and a licensed lawyer in Ontario, Canada. The author thanks Heather McLeod-Kilmurray, Nathalie Chalifour and Justin Smith for sharing their valuable expertise and knowledge. This article reflects the Canadian GM food regulatory framework as of summer 2016.

A Comparative Look at International Approaches to Social Enterprise

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 7, Issue 2 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. 

There is no global consensus on the meaning of the term “social enterprise.” Recent decades have witnessed an increase in the number of social entrepreneurs, those who seek to fill the social needs left unmet by traditional nonprofit and charitable organizations. The manner in which social entrepreneurs fill this gap varies according to a country’s social, political, economic, and cultural experiences. In some countries, the social enterprise label is only available to those entities formed as not-for-profit organizations, while in others, commercial for-profit ventures can be considered social enterprises. More recently, new types of hybrid entities that combine both the desire to aid society and the desire to make a profit have also been brought within the social enterprise umbrella in places such as the United States and the United Kingdom. This article seeks to identify common ground that transcends geographic and cultural boundaries by providing a look at the rise of social enterprise and exploring representative examples of international approaches to this sector in countries such as Brazil, Canada, China, and India. Having concluded that it is only supportive government efforts that will ensure the recognition of social enterprise as an indispensable aspect of a country’s landscape, this article provides an overview of government actions that can effectively be utilized to propel this sector into the mainstream.

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Mystica Alexander is an Assistant Professor at Bentley University. The author thanks Katie Dunn for her research assistance. An earlier draft of this paper was submitted as part of the University of Connecticut Social Enterprise Symposium (April, 2015). Special thanks to Stephen Park and Robert Bird for this opportunity