CHAPTER I: THE ROLE OF THE GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL OF ARAB STATES TO MEMBERS IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE THE UNITED NATIONS MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION
- Background of the Study
Since the end of the 20th century, issues such as extreme poverty, equal human rights for all gender and ethnicity, health services improvement, environmental sustainability and equal development have been in the forefront of both regional and international affairs. According to (), several proposals and programs have been presented by various world leaders, however, a workable framework that can be applied to any nation is difficult due to the difference of each nation politically, socially and economically. With the impact of these identified issues to both developing and developed countries, the United Nations had outlined a collective strategy for its member nations to resolve these concerns. In 2000’s Millennium Summit, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had released a report entitled “We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the Twenty-First Century” which outlines the issues identified to be of immediate importance and must be resolved. In its strategy, the UN had outlined eight important goals catering to the top issues affecting each nation at the present time. The eight goals, now known today as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, outlines specific targets, strategies and dates to ensure that equal development throughout the globe can be attained, especially in heavily impoverished nations.
Some of these heavily impoverished nations are located in the Middle East or in the Arab world, which currently faces several crucial issues that affects its regional stability in all possible fronts. According to Salem (2010) the unstable political, economic and social environment, topped with the region’s scarce resources, makes it crucial to attain the goals set by the UN to improve the Arab world’s current state. Currently, it is visible that while the Gulf States are capable of sustaining their needs and resources for their tiny population, the middle and low-income nations in the region are not aided by the richer states. The region also grows in population, reaching up to 320 million, which makes it hard for any nation in the Middle East to sustain their straining land, water and resources: which are identified as three of the MDGs set by the UN. There is also the problem of unemployment in a majority of these countries, resulting into high rates of poverty and illiteracy for all. Women and children are also poorly treated by their governments due to the governing nature of Middle Eastern countries concentrating on men. Urbanization also removes the resource of many to harvest food and create shelter, adding to the already dangerous impact caused by global warming in the region. Politics also makes it hard for these Middle Eastern countries to improve their policies for the MDGs since the region is currently unstable due to the security and political challenges which has been ravaging the region for decades. While the region receives aid from the international community, many still notice that the lack of good governance and political structure prevents the region from making any commitments such as the MDGs.
Although these problems currently are spreading throughout the Middle East, the governments themselves are already making negotiations to improve the situation in the region and apply the MDGs to foster development. Leading the attainment of the MDG in the Arab World is the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf or the Gulf Cooperation Council, comprised by the Arab states located the Persian Gulf – Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The members of the GCC can be considered some of the best-off countries in the region, which is why others see it as a plausible leader in the region to the attainment of the MDG. Others, however, see the GCC to be ill suited to be of influence in applying the MDG to its members because the influential capacity of the Council to apply its own programs is still unstable and unorganized. There is also the sentiment that like other international organizations, the GCC may just be a recommendatory body and a figurehead that has no bearing without the approval of its member countries. In the application of the MDG to the member countries, what should be the role of the GCC?
- Nature of the Problem
The Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations outlines many of the Arab region’s current struggles as the region finds itself at the midst of political, economic and social unrest. As such, following the proposals of the UN to resolve the eight (or nine) issues undermined by the MDG would be a benefit for any nation supporting it. In this case, the attainment of the MDG is crucial for the GCC to improve the Arab image to the world and show its hidden potential for its citizens and partners. However, the question firmly remains on how much influence the GCC can have on its member countries in applying such frameworks like the MDG and how the member states would interpret the goals into their own criteria. In this case, the main question this study would try to answer is what the role is played by the GCC in the application of the UN Millennium Development Goals to its member states. . Would the GCC be an influential entity or an advisory body? In support to this question, this study also aims to answer the following questions:
- What is the role of regional organizations such as the ASEAN and the African Union in the application of the MDG? Is it any different with the GCC role?
- What is the structure of the GCC especially in terms of its programs, policy-making capacities, and member responsibilities?
- How does the GCC utilize its structure in the application of the MDG to its member countries?
- What are the issues and difficulties the GCC found in the application of the MDG to its member countries?
- What are the possible recommendations that the GCC could take into consideration to improve the success of the MDG to its member countries?
- Purpose and Scope of the Study
With the current regional instability happening around the Arab nation, it is clear that the region would play host to several important concerns like poverty, poor health facilities, scarce resource for food and water, and inhumane treatment of people. Even the well-off members of the GCC did not escape these concerns as there are still several areas in their territories in need of proper attention to solve these cases. In this end, the purpose of this paper is to explain how regional organizations, such as the GCC, important in creating influential actions in attaining collective action such as the MDG for the benefit of their member countries and to their neighboring territories
For this study, the coverage would begin in the discussion of the United Nations Development Goals and how it is currently being applied to regional organizations such as the ASEAN and the African Union. This will allow an in-depth analysis on how regional organizations like the GCC can act towards their member countries in applying international programs such as the MDG and to provide a comparison on what is the GCC’s current role in the issue. The discussion would then cover a brief explanation of the GCC’s history and structure would provide some ideas on how the organization works. Analyzing its agenda, structure, and influence in its member countries would provide a clear idea on how capable the GCC is with regards to other issues. Finally, the discussion would analyze the current role of the GCC in the application of the MDG, which will also include the issues and recommendations identified with their current capability.
- Research Method
In order to answer the main question of this research, as well as the secondary questions identified to support the main question, this research will be using the descriptive-qualitative research method as it would enable a clear description of the updates done throughout the GCC states to improve their application of the Millennium Development Goals. It would also provide a clearer perspective on how influential programs for the MDG are applied by the various organizations (ASEAN, African Union, and GCC) and how well it is received by the people. This research method would also enable the researcher to identify the challenges faced by the members of the GCC, as well as other organizations in applying programs set for the program.
This paper would also utilize the descriptive-quantitative research method as it would provide numerical data to showcase the improvement between GCC states since the introduction of the MDG up to the present. Given the members under the GCC, this type of research would be able to identify the different characteristics and qualities each member state have and what its impacts would be for the implementation of the MDG. These two research methods would highlight also important factors that the GCC, as seen by the international community, can apply to improve their programs pertaining to the MDGs. A more effective assessment to the GCC framework and its capacity to influence its member states would be plausible with these research methods in effect.
- Data Collection
In achieving the scope and objectives set for this research, data collection would be mostly done through the use of both primary and secondary sources. Most of these sources are available online, from the official websites of the United Nations, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the ASEAN, the African Union, and from the various homepages allotted to member states included to the GCC. These primary sources would contain official program communiques, updates, and announcements from these organizations and its member countries regarding the developments about the Millennium Development Goals. These sources are also crucial in creating a chronology of events - from the beginning of the MDG to the current developments of member states applying the MDG. Most of these sources would also detail the criticisms, positions, changes, and recommendations filed by member countries or the organizations themselves in improving the MDGs to their own territories.
The secondary sources, on the other hand, would come from books, journals, news clippings, and commentaries coming from experts and other organizations discussing the topic. These sources would provide another interpretation of the primary sources, providing a comparison of facts. Some of these articles would also provide their own recommendations on how the Gulf nations a part of the GCC can improve on their policy making strategies and improve the GCC's influential power by resolving several local and regional issues that hinders their progress towards the MDGs. The span of the research would utilize sources from the creation of the Millennium Development Goals and the establishment of the GCC.
- Data Analysis
Data analysis for this topic would be done in several phases. The first phase would entail the literature review that would discuss the UN MDGs goals, including its brief background and proposed programs. The UN had proposed its own recommendations on how the development goals, which may not be applicable to each member nation given their own situation in each developmental goal. Understanding how each program must be done in the eyes of the UN would allow a basis on how the GCC can utilize its own policy agenda and organizational framework to apply the MDGs applicable to the Arab nation. In support of this, the literature review would feature how organizations like the ASEAN and the African Union utilized their own policy agenda and framework to apply the MDGs. This would provide a comparison to how the GCC's actions vary or mirror these organizations.
The second phase would provide an introduction to what the GCC is and what its agenda and organization entails. This phase would identify how members under the union influence the entire agenda and how capable the union is entirely in imposing its own policies to its members. Understanding the GCC's brief history and how its organization works would enable the researcher to expound on how the GCC enacts the MDGs to its members and whether or not its voice is influential. The third phase would discuss the answer to the research questions, expounding on the GCC's policies and programs tackling the MDGs and the update it has currently for the program. With 2015 nearing for each member country, it is said that the developed countries, including the GCC nations, would easily attain the goals earlier. Is the GCC capable of performing in an active role to its member nations or is it just an advisory body? Issues and sentiments influencing the GCC action on the MDGs would also be discussed as it would identify the policies and programs the GCC could change or improve on for the attainment of the UN goals for 2015. Finally, the final phase would summarize the entire research and identify recommendations for further study and considerations when it comes to the importance of the MDGs.
- Limitation of the Study
There are several limitations this research would not be able to include and discuss. The first limitation is the comparison organizations that can be compare with the GCC in terms on how effective their roles are for its member states to follow - may it be for the MDGs or for their own interests. The GCC can be compare with the likes of the European Union, the Union of South American Nations, and the Arab Union, however, considering the number of members the GCC currently has and their respective government types, the ASEAN and the African Union would be a good comparison to the GCC as they have a variety of governments and different situations when it comes to the MDGs. In addition to this, another limitation this research would not tackle are the in-depth criticisms over the MDGs, especially on the gaps seen by experts over the selection of the goals.
This research would not be discussing several aspects of the GCC in depth such as the expansion of the union to other nations such as Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Jordan, and its nature as a trade bloc. Considering that this paper would need to concentrate on the application of the MDGs in the side of the GCC, this research would only concentrate on the policy-making process, agenda, and current situation of the GCC nations with regards to the issues identified. This research would also have a limited scope as it would only cover sources from 1981 (inception of the GCC) up to the present as it would provide a clear chronology on how the research would showcase the programs and the progress reports pertaining to the MDGs and to the GCC’s improvements over the issue.
For this research, it can easily be assumed that like other organizations or unions, the Gulf Cooperation Council also has the capacity to bring together the Gulf States under one common banner and can easily enforce policies to its member countries. The GCC, as a powerful political and economic union that brings together the major oil producing states in the region, already possesses a political framework that can easily adapt to the MDGs. While the system is still thwarted by local, regional and international concerns in fully optimizing the GCC's capacity to be an active body in enforcing the MDGs, experts have seen that the GCC is capable of meeting the target set by the UN due to the good governance each member of the GCC possesses. The GCC nations are also advanced like its Western counterparts, enabling it to identify the points in which they need to improve on and work slowly to ensure sustainable progress for all its citizens.
If in any case the research overturns the assumptions that the GCC has not played an active role in enforcing the MDGs, it can be concluded that the GCC still has points to consider in improving its political, social, and economic stance as one entity for it to be able to apply the MDGs and reach the target year set by the UN. Although the GCC comprises the richest Arab nations to date, it should be able to mold its governing bodies and create a scheme to be an active actor in the region. The GCC must also be able to consider the impact of local, regional, and international events over their decision-making scheme to change its influence to its members in terms of making policies directed to the MDGs.
- Definition of Terms
- Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - known as the eight (or nine) international development goals identified by the United Nations as the most crucial issues that must be resolved by 2015.
- Development Assistance Committee (DAC) – the group under the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to discuss the issues over aid, development and poverty reduction for many donor countries.
- International Development Goals (IDG) – the predecessor of the MDGs and it has been outlined by the OECD
- Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - also known as the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (CCASG). It is a political and economic union comprised by countries bordering the Persian Gulf.
- International Country Risk Guide (ICRG) – an index that outlines the political, economic, and financial indicators that enables experts to identify if there is an improvement in the institution in question.