In 2013, the UN Country Team supported Montenegrin Government in preparation of MDG Progress Report 2013. An important element of this report, and a novelty in comparison to the previous reports, is the attempt to observe the MDGs in the context of accession to the EU – the process that is dominant in shaping the country’s development policies.
- what is the impact of the Millennium Development Goals on the country’s development policies, particularly in the context of accession to the EU;
- what is required to accelerate and maintain the achievement of the MDGs in the long run;
- how can Montenegro achieve synergy between MDGs and the European Agenda;
- and what is the Montenegrin contribution to defining the global and national post-2015 development agenda.
Previously, in 2010, the UN supported Government of Montenegro to prepare a Medium-Term Report on Millennium Development Goals. Unlike the 2004 Report, the new report included nationalized targets and data series calculated with nationalized indicators. The MDG Report preparation was led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro, and the MDG team and included five thematic working groups comprised of representatives of relevant Ministries and Civil society organizations and the representatives of the UN system in Montenegro.
MDGs in Montenegro: In the Beginning
There exist significant regional and ethnic disparities. These were acknowledged in the Report which states that: “[I]n the Northern, and to a certain extent, in the Central parts of Montenegro, the incidence of poverty is far higher than the Montenegro average. Additionally, some ethnic and other groups are affected by poverty more than others, such as the Roma, Ashkaelia and Egyptian minority (RAE), the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees.” (page 6)
Therefore, the main development challenges initially faced by Montenegro were:
- Social Inclusion
- Gender Equality
- Sustainable Development
The challenges were numerous but the country showed great potential Montenegro was seen as a small, dynamic economy, rich in natural resources that could provide rapid economic upturn in the medium term and generate the funds necessary to address social issues without substantial external borrowing.
In order to harness this potential it was apparent that the country would need a solid plan of action. Between 2003 and 2008 the Government of Montenegro developed and adopted the following initiatives, all of which have been instrumental in the effort to achieve the MDGs:
- Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (DPRS-PRSP),
- National Sustainable Development Strategy,
- National Action Plan for Children,
- Strategy on Child and Social Protection Development,
- Strategy on Inclusion of People with Disabilities,
- National Strategy on Roma Inclusion,
- National Action Plan for Gender Equality,
- National Action Plan for Decade of Roma Inclusion,
- Programme to Fight Corruption and Organized Crime
- National Spatial Plan and
- National Energy Development Strategy
Some challenges posed by the implementation of these strategies include:
- Political commitments
- State budgetary allocations and the development of the institutional capacity to execute the identified priorities.
Montenegro dissolved its state union with Serbia following a referendum in May 2006 and the country was quickly recognized by the UN. Montenegrins had emerged from the darkness that had engulfed the Balkans in the last decade of the 20th century and were eager to move forward. To mark the momentous occasion Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic made his first address to the General Assembly as the leader of a sovereign state on September 20, 2006 and assure the world that he, his government and his country were committed to working with the international community to achieve the MDGs:
“The issues of today, such as international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, illegal migration and trafficking, poverty, threats to the environment and so forth highlight the need for a common action. This vision of the future is exemplified in the Millennium Declaration, which projects the principles and goals of the Charter to the world in a new age, highlighting common responsibility and solidarity in order to accomplish a vision of a more secure, prosperous and just world. Without stability there is no democracy, just as without democracy there is no stability and sustainable economic development. These are interdependent processes that must take place simultaneously, which highlights the importance of accomplishing the Millennium Goals.
“With full awareness and responsibility we will continue to build in Montenegro stable institutions that guarantee the rule of law, freedoms, equality and non-discrimination, human and minority rights, as well as solidarity and market economy. We will also continue to promote multiethnic harmony and tolerance, demonstrating even more strongly that ethnic, cultural and religious diversity is enriching and conducive to greater stability and growth. It is also conducive to striking a balance between the state and the individual, between a way of life and the common system of values, fully in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. In this context I wish to express my gratitude for the efforts and support we have had from specialized UN agencies.” (pages 2 – 3)
Having attained independence, Montenegro’s government turned much of its attention to drafting a Constitution. It completed the process on October 19, 2007.
Article 1 of the Constitution declared Montenegro to be the world’s first “ecological state”:
Montenegro is an independent and sovereign state, with the republican form of government.
Montenegro is a civil, democratic, ecological and the state of social justice, based on the rule of law. (emphasis added)
By declaring itself the world’s first ecological state, Montenegro once again demonstrated its commitment to MDG7 (Ensure environmental sustainability).
Article 18 committed the government to the realization of MDG3 (Promote gender equality and empower women):
The state shall guarantee the equality of women and men and shall develop the policy of equal opportunities.
On the whole, the new Constitution was observed to be in accordance with the spirit of other modern democratic states.
On September 25, 2008 a High Level Event was held at UN Headquarters to take stock of what had been achieved so far in the global MDG effort. Montenegro’s President, Mr. Filip Vujanovic, presented, in a roundtable discussion what his country had achieved, so far, in the areas of education and health care.
In his speech, President Vujanovic reported that his country was, indeed, making progress:
“Studies on the mortality rate in children under 5 years of age show decreasing tendency, which makes achieving of this goal by 2015 possible.
“Under the Constitution of Montenegro, the right to education under equal conditions is guaranteed, and elementary education is obligatory and free of charge.
“In Montenegro, everyone has adequate access to the health services and the principle of equity in health has been fully observed.
“At the same time, active steps have been undertaken for the development of the program for prevention of mother and child neglect and awareness rising on women’s rights.
“Although HIV/AIDS morbidity rate is low in Montenegro, this problem has been seriously considered within a wider concept of social justice, equality and human rights.”
This once again demonstrated Montenegro’s commitment to the MDGs. Specifically, MDG2 “Achieve universal primary education,” MDG4 “Reduce child mortality,” MDG5 “Improve maternal health” and MDG6 “Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.”
Now, over a decade into the new Millennium we can see efforts being made to move forward and achieve a more just and prosperous world for everyone. While Montenegro undoubtedly still has a way to go in terms of fully achieving the objectives set by the Millennium Development Goals, it is clear that genuine and dedicated effort is underway. We hope to see even more progress made and very much look forward to an exciting future for all of Montenegro.
UN MDG Report 2012, Montenegro
UN MDG Report 2011, Montenegro
European Commission Montenegro Progress Report 2009
UN Millenium Development Goals: Offical website