April 2020 Newsletter


Welcome to your monthly roundup of 16+ news and views from the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies. If you find this newsletter useful, please pass it on to others working on the SDG16+ targets for peace, justice and inclusion. Subscribe or unsubscribe here — and check out the sdg16.plus website

1. Justice for All and the Public Health Emergency

As the world struggles to get a grip on the pandemic and make sense of the new social, economic and political reality that we are suddenly in, the justice workforce finds itself on the frontline.

Governments are taking unprecedented emergency measures that place far-reaching restrictions on people’s everyday lives. Justice leaders are being asked to take on daunting responsibilities for the implementation of these measures.

People-centered justice approaches are needed now more than ever, both for societies to respond to the immediate health crisis and to manage the institutional, social, and economic fallout from the pandemic.

The justice team at Pathfinders, together with over 50 partners from around the world, developed a first briefing on Justice in a Pandemic, with a specific focus on Justice for All in the Public Health Emergency.

The briefing sets out seven priorities for an effective justice response:

  1. Enforce emergency measures fairly
  2. Protect people from violence
  3. Make people your partners
  4. Reduce demand on justice systems
  5. Increase innovation and smart working
  6. Protect justice workforce
  7. Prepare for future disease containment

The briefing includes a call to action from three eminent global justice leaders, Hina Jilani, Willy Mutunga and Jeroen Ouwehand:

“We call on everyone working for justice — globally, nationally, locally; in government, civil society, community organizations or the private sector — to pull together to resolve the justice problems the pandemic is creating, to prevent injustices from occurring, and to use justice as a platform for people to play the fullest possible role in their economies and societies.”

2. Brace yourselves for the worst or act — now!

“Millions of people without pay-cheques are not going to sit quietly, watching elites — who ignored the warning signs of this crisis — continue to enjoy their decadent lifestyles. Brace yourselves for the worst or act now. Never has the truth that we are only as strong the weakest link in the chain felt more salient. For, if any part of the chain is infected with the coronavirus, we will all soon be.”

In a new Op-ed, Pathfinders’ director, Liv Tørres and the International Trade Union Confederation’s General Secretary, Sharan Burrow issued an urgent call for global solidarity and action to extend social protection to all in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — focusing on the most vulnerable first.

Read the Op-ed in the Mail and Guardian here.

3. COVID-19 has a Postcode: How spatial inequality shapes the pandemic’s impact and the need for place-based responses

Kolkata, India (Source: Shutterstock.com)

A new blog from Jeni Klugman (Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security), Matthew Moore (World Bank), and Pathfinders’ Michael Higgins and Paula Sevilla Núñez, explores how spatial inequality shapes the pandemic’s impact and the need for place-based responses. COVID-19 has exposed the inequalities that characterize so many cities in both developed and developing countries. People living in cities are particularly vulnerable to the pandemic, but it’s not on an equal basis. From Barcelona, to New York, to New Delhi we have seen how place-based disparities mean the poorest and most marginalized bear the brunt of the pandemic and face crowded housing, lack of medical care, and shortage of access to water.

The Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion is seeking to develop tools that draw on local data to help partners track disparities in housing, health, service delivery, transportation, environmental vulnerabilities and other indicators in cities. Place-based policies and tools that provide a more granular assessment of local conditions can help governments respond to crises by identifying the areas with the greatest needs.

4. Peace in Our Cities webinar

Over fifty members and partners of Peace in Our Cities joined a webinar focused on a discussion of responses to COVID-19 and its impact on violence, this week. Speakers included representatives from the Red Dot Foundation based in Mumbai, the National Network for Safe Communities based in the United States, and REACH based in Edmonton, Canada.

The discussion highlighted that existing trends of violence have persisted in urban areas, while distrust of government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have been a challenge to overcome. Some organizations found that responses such as intelligence sharing are working better virtually. Cities also need to prioritize making resources for domestic violence victims accessible and to make reporting mechanisms available to those who may not have access to technology.

5. CIC perspectives on the pandemic

UN Photo/Evan Schneider

The Center on International Cooperation’s (CIC) staff, fellows, and partners are working to shed light on the intersections between the global coronavirus pandemic and the issues we study, from the future of multilateralism and the global humanitarian response to the ongoing work of building peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Visit CIC’s regularly updated collection of articles, blog posts, and policy papers on COVID-19, here. For Pathfinders’ up-to-date commentary and analysis, visit our Medium blog and follow us on Twitter.

6. From the SDG16+ community

Over the past several weeks, friends and partners of the Pathfinders have published a number of vital resources, commentaries, statements and initiatives on the impact of and response to COVID-19 and efforts to build a more peaceful, just and inclusive world. A selection, below:


Justice for All:

Inequality and Exclusion:

  • Oxfam has published a proposal for an ‘Economic Rescue Plan for All’ to tackle the COVID-19 crisis and rebuild a more equal world
  • IDEA has shared a global overview of COVID-19’s impact on elections
  • CIVICUS developed a resource webpage for civil society, outlining the key priorities shaping the organization’s response to COVID-19 and information, resources and support for civil society partners
  • International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Global Citizen issued a joint open letter to Finance Ministers around the world calling for emergency debt relief to enable developing countries to combat the COVID-19 pandemic

Plus 16 (more) things we’re reading

  1. “Solidarity in the Time of Corona” by Michael Higgins (Pathfinders blog)
  2. “Planning for the World After the Coronavirus Pandemic” by David Steven and Alex Evans (World Politics Review)
  3. “Building Trust, Confidence and Collective Action in the Age of COVID-19” by David Steven and Alex Evans (Global Dashboard)
  4. “Can Law Enforcement Handle Scofflaws Amid A Pandemic?” by RJ Vojt (Law 360)
  5. “COVID-19 and Conflict: Seven Trends to Watch” (International Crisis Group)
  6. “Nonviolent Action in Time of Coronavirus” (USIP)
  7. Report: “A Window of Opportunity: Support to the Rule of Law in Guatemala” (The International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC))
  8. “The qualities that imperil urban places during COVID-19 are also the keys to recovery” (Brookings)
  9. “Billionaire wealth just shrunk, but coronavirus is no great leveler” by Max Lawson (Inequality.org)
  10. “COVID-19: Peacebuilders aren’t the side dish. We’re the delivery service” by Mike Jobbins (Search for Common Ground)
  11. “COVID-19: UN chief calls for global ceasefire to focus on ‘the true fight of our lives’” (UN News)
  12. “We Can Make the Post-Coronavirus World a Much Less Violent Place” by Robert Muggah and Steven Pinker (Foreign Policy)
  13. “Diplomacy at the UN in the Time of Coronavirus” by Naureen Chowdhury Fink (IPI Global Observatory)
  14. “COVID-19 and Violent Conflict: Responding to Predictable Unpredictability” by Christine Bell (Just Security)
  15. “Why Women’s Rights Must be Central to the UN Security Council’s Response to COVID-19” (NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security)
  16. “COVID-19: A Human Rights Checklist” (Human Rights Watch)