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Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
January 25, 2016, 11:12 am
Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies

“With diversity under verbal and violent attack in so many parts of the world, let us reaffirm our common humanity, defending our shared values and creating a better future for all.”  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

In a world that is increasingly divided, some regions enjoy sustained levels of peace, security and economic and social prosperity while others fall into seemingly endless cycles of conflict and violence. This is by no means inevitable or irreversible; it can and must be addressed urgently. If the world is to progress on its path towards sustainable development, leaving no one behind and ensuring dignity for all, then we need to work towards peace, stability, the upholding of human rights and effective forms of governance based on the rule of the law.

A country’s development and economic growth are stymied not only by conflicts with other nations, but by violence and insecurity within borders, as well as by grievances among and in communities that keep simmering and bubbling over for generations. Conflicts impact the level of access to basic social needs such as education and healthcare, especially to women, children and others most vulnerable in society. In addition, corruption, bribery, sexual violence, crime and exploitation become rampant when there is a breakdown of the rule of law.

Ironically, some of the most affected institutions by corruption and bribery are the judiciary and the police. It is estimated that corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost some US$1.26 trillion for developing countries every year. This amount of money would have been sufficient to lift those living below the poverty index of US$1.25 per day to above that level for at least six years.

Sustainable Development and the rule of law have significant interrelation and are mutually reinforcing, making good governance based on laws essential for sustainable development at the national and international level. There is no doubt that unstable societies impact some of the major Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) outlined in the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development that world leaders adopted at their summit in September 2015.

Insecure societies have a substantial bearing on achieving SDGs, including in eradicating poverty, ending hunger, ensuring good healthcare and providing quality education for all. For instance, in conflict affected countries the rate of children leaving primary school in 2011 was nearly 50 percent, or roughly around 29 million children. And, though maternal mortality ratio has decreased by half since 1990, the rate of such deaths in the developing world is 14 times higher than in developed countries. Moreover, with adolescent girls’ right to privacy and bodily autonomy not respected in many regions, and worsened in conflict zones, many girls report their first sexual experience was forced, and over two million adolescents are still living with HIV.

It is in recognition of the critical role of peace and the rule of law to social and economic development and to sustainable growth that Goal-16 of SDG is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, along with the provision of access to justice for everyone and to build effective, accountable institutions at all levels.

In general, Goal-16 of the SDG aims to significantly reduce all forms of violence, and work with governments and communities to find lasting solutions to conflict and insecurity. In addition, it seeks to strengthen the rule of law and promote human rights and human solidarity, as well as reduce the flow of illicit arms and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance.

One of the primary targets of Goal-16 is significantly reducing all forms of violence and related deaths rates worldwide, and ending the abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture of children.

The goal calls for promoting the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensuring equal access to justice for all, as well as substantially reducing corruption and bribery in all their forms by developing effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels. It also urges the ensuring of responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels and providing legal identity for all, including birth registration, by 2030

Another target of Goal-16 is broadening and strengthening the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance, as well as ensuring public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms, in line with national legislation and international agreements. It also aims for promoting and enforcing non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development

The Goal also calls for significantly reducing the illicit financial and arms flows, and strengthening the recovery and return of stolen assets and to combat all forms of organized crime, in addition to fighting terrorism and other crimes..

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his address to the UN on International Human Solidarity Day on 20 December, 2015 noted, “With diversity under verbal and violent attack in so many parts of the world, let us make the most of International Human Solidarity Day by reaffirming our common humanity, defending our shared values and creating a better future for all.”

Complimenting world leaders for coming together and achieving major outcomes in 2015 such as at the Paris Climate Summit and adopting the historic 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said with these agreements, “world leaders expressed their resolve to seek shared progress and prosperity based on a spirit of global solidarity.” These achievements, he added, were driven by two complementary goals, “to leave no one behind, and to build a life of dignity for all.”

He noted that it was especially true in addressing plight of the record number of people around the world forced from their homes and communities. “Far too many have fled violent extremists only to be victimized again by xenophobia, discrimination and abuse.” Decisive, collective action is needed to uphold our shared responsibility to save lives and enable people to live lives of dignity, he added.

Face the Facts:

Over 830 million people around the world are illiterate; 70 percent of them are girls and women.
Nearly 60 million people, half of them children, have been forced from their homes due to conflict and violence.
Around 27 million people are currently enslaved globally by the human trafficking trade
More than 300,000 children under the age of 18 are being exploited as child soldiers in armed conflicts worldwide.
Around 15 million girls are forced into child marriage every year, with one in three girls in the developing world being married by their 18th birthday.
An estimated 168 million children worldwide aged 5 to 17 are forced to work as child laborers.
Every 90 seconds, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth; most of these are from preventable causes.
Globally, at least 21 million people are victims of forced labor.
Human suffering from the impacts of armed conflicts and disasters has reached staggering levels. The human and economic cost of disasters caused by natural hazards is also escalating. In the last two decades, 218 million people each year were affected by disasters; at an annual cost to the global economy that now exceeds $300 billion.


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