A new agenda for peace

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Reporting back from the PyeongChang Global Peace Forum in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The 2018 winter Olympics in PyeongChang brought not only remarkable moments in sport, they brought remarkable gestures of cooperation between North and South Korea. The symbolism of togetherness between two countries long divided paved the way for an inspirational gathering of peace advocates from around the world.

A year after the Olympics concluded, five-hundred participants from 50 countries gathered in PyeongChang to usher in a new agenda for peace. The PyeongChang Global Peace Forum brought together a diverse gathering of civil society leaders, activists, government officials, parliamentarians, researchers, and others from around the world.

Just as diverse as the participants was the substance under discussion. Conversations explored ways to harness the power of sports for peace, the link between human rights and peace, the essential challenge of disarmament, ingredients for effective partnerships, and more. Many spoke with passion about recent efforts to bring meaningful peace to the Korean Peninsula, making eloquent connections between public diplomacy, sports and women led peacebuilding.

Recognizing that conflict and violence pose primary impediments to development, the Sustainable Development Goals received top billing at the Forum.

During a panel on the SDGs and Peace, I articulated how peace advocates could more deliberately and strategically leverage the opportunities presented by the inclusion of Goal 16.1 in the SDGs. This includes leveraging the commitment in Agenda 2030 to “leave no-one behind” and the fact that all governments of the world have committed themselves to these ambitious goals.

During conversations, participants made clear the need to do better to reinforce the spirit of integration across the SDG framework, ensuring promotion of peace that is linked strongly to justice, inclusion, gender equity, economic opportunity and more. Reinforcing the 16+ framing is crucial to this objective.

Some participants communicated the need for the SDGs to also sync up with communities that are not perhaps already natural allies. For example, while SDG16.4 calls for a reduction in illicit arms flows, broader disarmament was not included.

At the conclusion of the Forum participants adopted the PyeongChang Declaration for Peace, the main political outcome of the Forum. Significantly, the Declaration states, “Governments and official agencies must demonstrate their commitment to the prevention of violence and conflict by accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, including as a priority Goal 16.”

Those who are closest to the communities most directly impacted by conflict and violence know what’s at stake here. Their priorities are clear: Invest in the SDGs and invest in prevention.

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Rachel Locke
Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies

Heading research on SDG 16.1 for the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies