Approach to normative development coherence from different perspectives

Approach to normative development coherence from different perspectives
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We all have certain principles, values ​​or norms in our lives that we follow. But what about those principles in politics? Especially since the beginning in 2030 agenda and its set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), norms should be represented in politics from the global to the local. in 2030 the agenda provides normative standards for development policy, as well as sectors where the agenda may not appear at first glance. One policy can have (intended or unintended) negative effects on other policies or even nullify efforts to promote sustainable development.

A popular example of extreme incoherence used to be the European Union’s enlargement policy and its Common agricultural policy. On the one hand, the EU used to invest a lot in developing countries and support local food production, but on the other hand, the EU produced too many goods that were exported to those countries and sold there cheaper than local goods due to the huge EU agricultural subsidy. Another example was the EU’s development and fisheries policy, where development aid was intended to help local fishermen increase their catches, but at the same time the EU had its own large fishing fleets just off the coast. If we are truly to achieve sustainable development, these inconsistencies need to be addressed and a strong normative dimension integrated, as without it policies risk reproducing the inequalities that have emerged from traditional development models.

What we are talking about here is Normative Coherence for Development (NCD), that is, the integration and implementation of norms across policy levels and policy areas. In our special issue “Normative coherence for development”, we look at different regions (EU, ASEAN, Central American and African Small Island States) from a normative perspective of development coherence and examine different policies at different levels of governance.

We show how policies are often consistent with, but not necessarily normatively compatible with, the underlying principles underlying the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. So why should we pursue sustainable development? What exactly is sustainable development? And what is sustainable development for? The SDGs focus heavily on the latter two questions without adequately addressing the first question, which addresses the 2030 vision goal. If we understand why?, we also understand that we cannot create a “better life for all” through a fragmented and internally competitive political system. Similarly, policy coherence for development has been implemented with little attention to the normative dimension of politics, which does not prioritize the ethics and values ​​that are fundamental to transformative change. Normative coherence of development can be seen as the compatibility of development policy with the goal.

Contributions address the normative coherence of development and regionalization through complementary perspectives that address the above issues. The first group of articles deals with the nature, potential and appropriateness of regionalization and development norms. Lauri Siitonen contribution provides a methodological basis for the content and function of norm analysis. He shows how norms affect European regionalism and applies his analysis to EU migration policy. Similarly, the second one article Edith Kauffer and Carmen Maganda explore the importance of global water norms in Central America. They discuss the hegemonic nature of global norms in supposedly weak regions, thereby introducing an important reflection on the relationship between normative development coherence and political power.

The second group of articles focuses on the development of normative coherence for regional implementation. Alexandra Berger contribution examines EU migration policies and shows that they are normatively incompatible with sustainable migration management and sustainable development, as these migration policies promote immobility as a political response to third-country immigration. Similarly, article Sandra Häbel, Harlan Koff and Marie Adam focus on migration in ASEAN countries. This paper documents ASEAN’s recent legal commitments on gender equality and examines women’s interregional migration within this framework. The article shows how ASEAN undermines gender harmony for development by mobilizing women’s rights and protecting migrant women within its cultural community. Economic community measures undermine gender equality by promoting growth-based strategies that exploit migrant women. The third article in this panel, Suzanne Graham and Victoria Graham analyze the African Union’s Banjul Charter, which establishes a framework for human and civil rights on the continent. This article shows that African small island states formally commit to the charter, but implementation varies greatly, indicating significant normative development inconsistencies in practice among these states.

Finally, Vladas Perekrestova article participates in regional integration as a system of actors. She researches women’s empowerment in Myanmar through the establishment of social entrepreneurship organizations. She argues that networks of non-governmental actors in Asia can promote NCDs more effectively than formal political bodies because they are unconstrained by norms of non-intervention and have a better understanding of the needs of local communities.

Normative sustainability of development can be viewed from different perspectives, but each of them emphasizes that the normative dimension is crucial for achieving sustainable development. Regions are an important interlocutor at the global, national and sub-national levels and are therefore crucial to the implementation of the sustainable development agenda. But regions alone will not be able to overcome normative incoherence – this must happen at all levels of governance and in all policy areas, even if it costs efficiency.


Special Edition’Normative coherence for development” is published in the Development Policy Review and can be read for free for a limited time.

Guest Editors: Sandra Häbel & Harlan Koff

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