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Full faith in credit? : the power of numbers in rating\ud frontier sovereigns and the global governance of\ud development by the UNDP 1\ud

By Arthur Mühlen-Schulte


The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the oldest dedicated development institution in the multilateral system, yet remains one of the smallest in terms of funding and resources. This belies its\ud central role in contributing to rankings, benchmarks and ratings which have defined the process of development for states, nongovernment organisations and the private sector. The UNDP created the Human Development Index (HDI), coordinates the benchmarks of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and recently devised sovereign\ud credit ratings in partnership with Standard and Poor’s. In this regard mobilising numbers in support of development strategies is not new, yet it will be argued that the UNDPs development policy has seen a significant shift from the qualitative analysis of the HDI to the quantitative nature of credit rating. This paper will adopt a governmentality approach in looking at sovereign credit rating and the\ud way in which the power of numbers informs the rationality\ud underpinning the partnership between the UNDP and the rating agency Standard and Poor’s. It concludes that while pursuing sovereign credit rating may be seen as ‘capacity development’ for the UNDP, it in fact represents a shift by the organisation toward quantitative practices that\ud have particular consequences for the global governance of development.\u

Topics: HB
Publisher: University of Warwick
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

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