What is commitment and how do we ensure that people, organizations, politicians live up to the promises they make? We have all witnessed stern-looking leaders, taking a stance and looking into the lens of the camera, claiming that THEY will make a difference in the lives of many in the fight against poverty/hunger/inequality etc. Later, promises are forgotten and initially passionate-sounding words die out, left to disappear into the aftermath of elections or fade into a pool of insincere camaraderie.
Although there are definitely some who do follow through on such promises, representing the marginalized has often been a means to a wholly different end, with symbolic rhetoric used as an instrument for self-promotion.
Even in aspects of mainstream development policy, trendy catchphrase words, such as gender, are often thrown into documents as a carefree afterthought, but for some reason rarely appear in the analysis and collected empirical data, and thereby lack the cause-effect duality that is needed to dig deeper and understand the dimensions of poverty and inequality, and differentiated experiences thereof.
What are words and proclaimed commitment without those who will follow through and those who can hold them accountable?
The recent UN post-2015 conference on inequality lanced the UN’s most ambitious and comprehensive consultation process (www.worldwewant2015.org), where everyone is invited to discuss what the world should look like after 2015.
Since Denmark chose to host the conference on the global inequality theme, Danish politicians are thereby committed to follow up and continue the discussion, even (and especially) after the conference has completed.
Don’t just make a conference and then be quiet*
By continuing to have an interest in the world around us, let us prompt our governments to follow up on obligations and remind our representatives to carry out their big words and promises.