Proposing Alternative Criteria for Choosing Indicators
So human rights principles would call for modulation of the application of openness and non-discrimination in the trading system. Indeed, the word “equitable” qualiﬁed the trading system being pursued in the MD, but was removed when formulating the target (OHCHR 2008, 45). More in contrast with human rights objectives than the language in the target may have been the way
many countries interpreted it; namely, as a call to conclude a new round of trade negotiations. The WTO “Development” Round, launched at the Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, is considered one of the post-MD events that shaped MDG 8 (Herfkens 2008). The Doha round promised to put development concerns at the heart and to focus on redressing issues that were hindering developing countries’ prospects to use trade for development. However much the Round came to be associated with MDG 8,3 none of the trade-related indicators
called for a round of trade negotiations, and the target to “Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading… system” certainly admits interpretations that do not require a new multilateral round, or even further liberalization. To the contrary, a new round by deﬁnition would come with additional quid pro quos from developing countries. This could represent a departure from what MDG 8 indicators, focused on market access concessions by rich countries, prescribed. The choice of trade-related indicators in MDG 8, however, focuses attention on a number of beneﬁts
for developing countries and least developed countries that, even if offered without demanding a reciprocal concession, are not necessarily guided by human rights priorities. Factors such as the number of jobs depending on certain sectors in the favored countries could be a lot more important than the number of tariff lines that are non-dutiable, but they receive no attention in the indicators. Human rights impact assessments could be a useful tool to determine which of the trade concessions a country might receive that would be the most supportive of human rights in a particular country context, but they are not mentioned within the indicators.