State and Society: Facing the Challenges of the 21st Century

In the year 2000, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) established eight goals in relation to—poverty and hunger, education, women’s rights and empowerment, maternal and child mortality, reproductive health, HIV and addiction, and participation in the world effort to secure sustainable development-- to be achieved by the year 2015 as signposts to gauge economic, social and political development across the world, especially in the developing countries.

To facilitate reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), UNDP sent “country teams” to analyze and identify critical challenges to development in cooperation and partnership with governments and civil society institutions. The team in Iran identified the following five areas as critical: strengthening capacities and capabilities for achieving the MDGs; strengthening good governance; improving economic performance and management and generating employment; sustainable development, disaster management, and energy efficiency; facilitating the transfer of science and technology for development in all areas of cooperation.

This article examines the results and finds the performance of the Islamic Republic wanting in all five focus areas. Furthermore, it finds that the failure is a result primarily of the structure and character of the regime rather than a lack or inadequacy of general knowledge or particular expertise. The challenge facing the Iranian People is that on the one hand globalization necessitates a capacity to change and adjust and, on the other hand, the Islamic regime’s dependence on “absolute truth” for legitimacy in the eyes of its cadres, limits its capacity to change and adjust.  The questions to be posed are: Can the Iranian people prevail on the regime’s leaders to change the structure and character of their regime to adjust to the requirements of the world in the 21st century? Can the regime afford to change and adjust without losing itself?

غلامرضا افخمی*
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