April 2021 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. Visit our website: sdg16.plus and follow us on Twitter at: @SDG16Plus.

1. Reimagining Social Contracts: A call to put people at the center of justice

We need to ‘claim the space to make a difference’, Minister Sigrid Kaag of the Netherlands said in her opening remarks of the ministerial meeting on Building Peaceful and Inclusive Societies through Justice for All, that took place on April 14th, 2021.

A diverse group of ministers from 16 countries came together to unite behind a call to put people at the center of justice. In their joint letter to the Secretary-General, they agreed that it is necessary to rethink the social contract and the fundamentals of our societies. The letter states that by embracing people-centered justice, we can reduce inequality and exclusion, reduce all forms of violence, revive the social contract, and rebuild trust.

The ministers have asked the UN Secretary-General to include the principles on people-centered justice in the UN Common Agenda and to base the Common Agenda on a vision of justice where no one is left behind.

Reflecting on the pandemic and its impacts, Member States also ask the Secretary-General to identify justice as a guiding principle for the economic recovery and the societal reset. Finally, tying it back to the achievement of SDG16, the countries ask the SG to raise our collective ambitions to achieve the goal of providing equal access to justice for all by 2030.

The ministers pledged to continue to build political and financial support for people-centered justice, including through a justice action coalition that will be created in the course of 2021.

The meeting was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the g7+ secretariat, The Elders, and the Pathfinders. For more information read this blog by Pathfinders’ Maaike de Langen or explore our website.

The letter is endorsed by Afghanistan, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Liberia, Libya, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, São Tomé and Principe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Sweden, and Switzerland.

2. Inequality, Lockdown, and COVID-19

(Nelson Antoine / Shutterstock.com)

‘“We are all in this together” was a popular phrase when the pandemic hit last year. Soon enough though, we learned that it was the poor and underprivileged who bore the brunt of the crisis. Now we have enough data to illustrate how inequality and exclusion are not only a result of the pandemic, but that they can also compound virus infection rates. As we look towards a future with more pandemic-like crises, it’s crucial to make investments in equality and inclusion now in order to strengthen societies’ shock resilience.’

In a new study by Pathfinders’ Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion, Inequality, Lockdown, and COVID-19: Unequal Societies Struggle to Contain the Virus, we examined how pre-existing inequities impacted countries’ ability to withstand the pandemic, with implications for countries’ future shock resilience.

Learn more about the main takeaways from the study in The Independent and in a new blog by the paper’s author, Pathfinders’ Paul von Chamier.

3. Peace One Day Anti-Racism Live Global Digital Experience 2021

Since 1966, March 21st has been recognized by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. To commemorate the day, Pathfinders partnered with Peace One Day who, in association with The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, hosted The Anti-Racism Day Live Global Digital Experience on 21 March 2021. The live, virtual 12-hour event broadcasted thought-provoking, inspiring discussions, interviews, live moments, and performances from global artists.

Highlights of the event include:

  • The opening statement by Michelle Bachelet, urging people to take a stand individually and collectively against racial injustice whenever and wherever it appears.
  • Professor Thuli Madonsela, Law Trust Chair in Social Justice and Law at Stellenbosch University, noting efforts to drive justice for all in South Africa.
  • Hina Jilani, Elder, Lawyer, and Human Rights Champion, asserting the need to acknowledge the structural problems in our institutions in order to eliminate racial discrimination.
  • Tony West, Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, & Corporate Secretary at Uber Technologies, Inc., showcasing Uber’s initiatives to boost justice and equity for all.
  • Micheal Omoniyi, Founder & CEO of the Common Sense Network, highlighting technology is vital to ending racial injustice, keeping people informed, and providing spaces to mobilize.
  • Zulaikha Patel, Anti-Racism Activist, Black Radical Feminist, Writer, sharing her experience as a youth activist fighting against her school discriminatory policies.
  • Daniel Osweni Ajala, Owner and Director of the Leap Dance Academy, urging communities to build alliances to forge a future where everyone is treated fairly and equally.

The Pathfinders and Peace One Day launched a Call to Action on Equal and Fair Justice for All. Join us in our commitment to ending racial discrimination and providing justice to all by 2030 by signing this form!

4. Updates from the Gender Equality Network on Small Arms (GENSAC)

Action Paper: New and Updated

COVID-19 and its implications on small arms control and violence reduction take center stage in the revised and expanded edition of the GENSAC Action Paper on the Gender Responsive Small Arms Control in the Decade of Action for the SDGs. Updates to the report include case studies of best practices to operationalize gender responsive small arms control strategies from Latin America and the Caribbean region, as well as a self-assessment tool for international and regional organizations, national governments, and CSOs to evaluate their effectiveness.

GENSAC-WILPF Africa Grassroots Events

In past weeks, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Africa and GENSAC co-hosted a series of conferences and community outreach events in sixteen countries across Africa, under the theme: “Women Leadership in Small Arms Control”. The events brought together policymakers at the national level and women civil society leaders to discuss the importance of gender mainstreaming in small arms control decision-making, and the impact of gun violence on communities.

Gun Violence and Femicide

82% of victims of femicide are killed by an intimate partner. Latin America accounts for one-third of homicides across the world. Last month, GENSAC members launched a campaign in partnership with SEHLAC to raise awareness on gun violence in Latin America, particularly the correlation between gun violence and gender-based violence. In 12 videos released as part of the campaign, female activists, researchers and policymakers in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Uruguay call for tougher measures to stop the proliferation of small arms and bring an end to femicides.

5. Governance and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic struck the world at a time when the relationship between governments and their citizens, and the relationship between different sections of society were already under pressure. Responses to the 2008 global financial crisis had increased inequality and fueled resentment of elites, and populist leaders had emerged to channel that resentment into increasingly effective assaults on democratic institutions. The world was already off track to deliver the SDGs, even before COVID-19 dramatically worsened the health, educational, and economic plight of billions of people across the globe.

In a new background paper for the 2021 SDG16 Conference, Governance and COVID-19, David Steven and Margaret Williams argue that governance is the linchpin both to the pandemic response and to achieving the SDGs. They propose three overarching missions for governance in the coming decade:

  1. Rebuilding the social contract between governments and citizens
  2. Improving the performance of institutions so that they can solve the problems that matter to people during and after the pandemic
  3. International collective action and strengthened global and regional governance to help increase the effectiveness of institutions at national and subnational levels.

6. Justice for Women and Girls — It’s our business!

On March 17th, the Business Leaders For Justice Coalition hosted a CSW65 parallel event bringing together four outstanding business representatives to discuss how the private sector can advance justice for women and girls. The discussion was moderated by Jamira Burley, Head of Youth Engagement and Skills for the Global Business Coalition for Education.

These Business Leaders highlighted ambitious actions based on the Justice Imperative Principles:

  • Michelle Cirocco, Executive Director of the Televerde Foundation and Chief Social Responsibility Officer for Televerde, highlighted Televerde’s work to provide women in prison with jobs, training and opportunities.
  • Natalie Deacon, Executive Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Avon and President at the Avon Foundation for Women, spotlighted Avon’s commitment to creating a platform that protects women and prevents gender-based violence.
  • Ronda Carnergie, Chief Innovation Officer at The Female Quotient, and Nikki Darden, Head of Internal Brand Engagement and Global Integration at Citi, promoted The Female Quotient’s innovative tool, the Advancing Equality Calculator, that allows businesses to calculate their gender pay gap to start taking action to close it.

Learn more about the event here.

The Business Leaders for Justice Coalition provides an opportunity for businesses to share the concrete actions they are taking to advance justice, and connect with justice champions committed to accelerating the movement. For more information, please visit www.justice.sdg16.plus/businessforjustice and contact the Steering Committee directly.

7. Tackling Gender Inequality through a Care Economy

During this year’s CSW, the Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion, in partnership with WIEGO and ITUC, hosted a discussion on the role of the care economy in policy discussions about the future of work, and opportunities within COVID-19 recovery efforts to better recognize and compensate the labor performed by care workers. The event, with additional interventions from ECLAC, the UK Women’s Budget Group, and Oxford University, explored opportunities sparked by COVID-19 to invest in the care economy and informal workers’ livelihoods. Panelists reflected on the importance of having female leaders and policymakers, enabling women and informal workers to organize, and making the link between advocacy around appropriate compensation for women’s paid and unpaid care work and a transformation of the economic model.

Watch a full recording of the event here.

8. UNGASS and beyond

In June 2021, the UN General Assembly will hold its first ever Special Session against corruption (UNGASS). UN Member States are currently working on a Political Declaration in advance of the meeting which is intended to renew the commitment of all countries to fight corruption and to accelerate the agenda first set out in the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) of 2005.

The Special Session is one of several opportunities in 2021 to build momentum in the battle against corruption. The OECD held its annual Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum in March, which will be followed by the G7 Meetings in June, and the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development in July. September and October see the United Nations General Assembly session and a G20 summit hosted by Italy, followed by the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Global Summit in December.

Ahead of these events, the Pathfinders and OGP hosted virtual meeting on ‘Leading the Fight against Corruption: UNGASS and Beyond’ from March 2nd — 3rd. Participants discussed successes and challenges in anti-corruption efforts and explored ways to raise the level of ambition at UNGASS and the other 2021 meetings, and in the years to come.

Read highlights from the discussion on our blog.

9. Designing a Better Social Contract in 2021

What makes a social contract both “social” and a binding “contract” between parties?

In a recent blog, Pathfinders’ director, Liv Tørres and Prof. David Everatt of the School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, examine the social contract and explore what could make it better.

10. 2021 Voluntary National Reviews: An Opportunity to Advance Justice for All

The 44 countries that will present Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) at this year’s HLPF will have the opportunity to report on their progress towards realizing access to justice for all. To do this they can use available data for a new justice indicator adopted by the UN Statistical Commission in 2020.

A new Pathfinders fact sheet explains how countries can incorporate reporting on people-centered justice in their 2021 VNRs, in four key ways:

  1. Assess SDG 16.3.3. and people-centered justice
  2. Report on people-centered justice beyond SDG16.3.3
  3. Highlight policy innovations for people-centered justice
  4. Commit to strengthening people-centered justice data

Learn more in a new blog by Pathfinders’ Maaike de Langen and Peter Chapman, published on IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub.

11. Grasping the Justice Gap

“A shift towards better justice data is underway.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic places new pressures on health, policy and fiscal systems, some justice leaders are prioritizing a shift to people-centered justice data to target services and drive transformation. Recent practitioner exchange convened by the World Justice Project, the Open Society Justice Initiative, and the Pathfinders has begun to identify common data priorities and innovative strategies that are driving transformation.

These experiences and findings are summarized in a new discussion paper: Grasping the Justice Gap: Opportunities and Challenges for People-Centered Justice Data.

Peter Chapman, Fellow at NYU CIC, highlights the key takeaways of the paper in a new blog.

12. Spotlight on: SDG16+ Champions of Change

Pathfinders’ Champions of Change interview series highlights individuals, advocates, and organizations who are making an impact in their communities — helping to create more peaceful, just, and inclusive societies (SDG16+).

Read the latest interviews with:

13. Upcoming events

High-level Conference: “Towards people-centered e-Justice”, 26–27 April

Organized under the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union, at this conference participants will reflect on the transition to digital justice, on emerging opportunities and challenges to guaranteeing access to justice, as well as more effective, modern justice systems in the 21st century.

More information and registration here.

SDG16 Conference, 28–30 April

Organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) and the Government of Italy, the 2021 Rome Conference will consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on SDG16 as well as the transformative contribution SDG16 can make in helping to safeguard and accelerate progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

More information here.

2021 Stockholm Peace Forum, 4–7 May

Hosted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the 2021 Forum will feature over 60 panels, roundtables and workshops on the theme ‘Promoting Peace in the Age of Compound Risk’.

Stay tuned for a Pathfinders session on ‘Leveraging Innovative Global Coalitions and Resourcing to Halve Violence’.

Register for the Forum here.

Pro-equity and Inclusion Approaches to Digital Connectivity, 6 May

What does digital inclusion and equality mean and why does it matter? Join the Pathfinders for a discussion on the role of digital connectivity and approaches to breaching spatial divides in addressing inequality and exclusion. This is the first of a series of policy roundtables hosted by the Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion in the lead-up to the publication of its Flagship Report in Fall 2021.

Register for this event here.

For more upcoming events, explore our SDG16+ Calendar.

Plus 16 things we’re reading

  1. Op-ed: “Our ‘soldiers’ are not only in the military — key workers face risks for us too” by Sarah Cliffe and Ian Goldin (The Guardian)
  2. Action: “Calling all Businesses: It’s Time to Support #JusticeForAll” (Global Citizen)
  3. “Girls are not toys! — How one child activist is standing up for equality and justice” (Pathfinders)
  4. Report: “Still Not There: Global violent death scenarios, 2019–30” by Gergely Hideg and Anna Alvazzi del Frate (Small Arms Survey)
  5. Op-ed: “Covid-19 has worsened a shaky rule of law environment” by Ted Piccone (EqualTimes)
  6. “Biden wants to give anti-violence groups $5 billion. Here’s how it could be spent.” (NBC News)
  7. Op-ed: “Too many people are locked up for small thefts” (The New York Times)
  8. “Putting SDG16 front and center at the HLPF through an annual thematic review” (IISD)
  9. “The SDGs are our compass for bolstering Africa’s long-term COVID recovery” by Amina J. Mohammed (Brookings)
  10. Report: “People-centered justice for all: a route to scaling up access to justice advice and assistance in low-income countries” (ODI)
  11. “The Post-Pandemic Safety Net” by Jorge G. Castañeda (Project Syndicate)
  12. “People-centred justice — re-setting financial priorities in OECD and low-income countries” by Marcus Manuel (ODI)
  13. “The Invisibles: The cruel Catch-22 of being poor with no ID” by Patrick Marion Bradley (The Washington Post)
  14. “What could have kept me out of prison” (Marshall Project)
  15. “A Sahel City’s Residents Take the Lead on Justice and Security” by Abdoul Aziz Abouzeidi Sanoussi (USIP)
  16. Op-ed: “Slow the Iron River of Guns to Mexico” by Ioan Grillo (The New York Times)