December 2019 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 website.

1. David Steven hands over the reins as Pathfinders Director…

This is my last newsletter as Pathfinders director before Liv Tørres takes over from me in New York.

Liv is in her last few weeks leading the Nobel Peace Center. Just a few days ago, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Liv starts at the NYU Center on International Cooperation on 2 January 2020.

As Pathfinders mobilizes for the Decade of Action on the SDGs, this is a great opportunity to take our work onto a new level. As CIC Director, Sarah Cliffe said when Liv was appointed:

“Liv brings twenty years of leadership experience on the links between peace and development — her passion for expanding access to justice and promoting equality and inclusion will be an enormous asset to the initiative and to the governments, multilateral organizations, and civil society partners it serves.”

It’s been a huge honor steering Pathfinders through its early years — and seeing so many countries and partners come together to turn the SDG16+ targets into an agenda for action.

And I will continue to play a strategic and advisory role — based in Tuscany (tough, I know) and working with Maaike de Langen to develop the next phase of our work on justice for all and developing our grand challenge on global violence.

Thanks so much to everyone who has worked with us over the past four years to make Pathfinders a success.

2. …and proposes some priorities for the year ahead

The HLPF and SDG Summit in 2019 provided us with a solid platform to build on in 2020 — a year that will see a new mobilization for the SDGs.

  • In January, the Secretary-General will launch “the largest and furthest-reaching global conversation ever on building the future we want” as part of the UN 75th Anniversary preparations. Throughout the year, we need to get as many implementers involved in the conversation on what action is needed to what action we need to take to bridge the gap on the SDG targets for peace, justice, and inclusion.
  • In July, the High-level Political Forum will explore accelerated action and transformative pathways. The President of ECOSOC — who chairs the HLPF — has made financing the SDGs a priority for her year in office. That gives us six months to flesh out financing strategies for bridging the SDG16+ gap.
  • Then in September, the SG will host the first SDG Action Platform — an opportunity for leaders to present transformative commitments to accelerate action. This is a chance to draw on a growing body of inspiring national action for SDG16+ and to bring together an ambitious coalition of countries to take it to another level.
  • If we get this right, we will put SDG16+ at the heart of the Decade of Action for Sustainable Development as it’s launched at the beginning of 2021. And begin the drive to demonstrate measurable improvements in people’s lives by the second SDG Summit in 2023.

3. Peace in 2020

In 2019 we have begun laying the groundwork to accelerate action and delivery on SDG16.1, and other peace related goals, as we prepare to launch the Movement to Halve Global Violence. In 2020 we will:

  • Publish a landmark study setting out a case for action, advocacy and convening efforts on violence prevention and reduction, which draws on the evidence, strategies, and opportunities across violence prevention communities (conflict, urban violence, violence against women and children, human rights abuses and mass atrocities, and violent extremism).
  • Amplify the work of mayors through the Peace in Our Cities Campaign, and further support them in their efforts to identify specific areas for significant urban violence reduction.
  • Highlight the need for arms control and a reduction in the illicit flows of weapons, including through a roadmap that sets out strategies for promoting women’s leadership in arms control and support for the development of the Gender Equal Network on Small Arms Control (GENSAC) together with the German Federal Foreign Office and other partners.
  • Contribute to efforts to end violence against children, working with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, and other partners, and supporting the development and launch of the Global Status Report on Preventing Violence against Children.
  • Contribute to efforts to eliminate violence against women, including through support for the Action Coalition that is expected to be one of the outcomes from Beijing+25.
  • Showcase and consult our work on halving global violence at international policy forums and convenings to grow the network of partners and contributors, and mobilize the peace/violence community for action at marquee events such as Peace One Day concert in New York on September 21, 2020 (International Day of Peace).

4. Justice in 2020

2019 was the Year of Justice and the Task Force on Justice and its many partners inspired a strong political mobilization for people-centered justice, developed an evidence-based agenda to provide Justice for All and created robust partnerships to drive implementation around the world. In 2020 we will:

  • Build and support the Justice Action Coalition, a leadership group of countries with the ambition to accelerate action at home and to work together internationally to take the political mobilization to a new level. This group will lead the mobilization for the Decade of Action and intensify the call for national Acceleration Actions.
  • Finalize and launch the joint justice strategy at the Innovating Justice Forum. This joint action plan sets out short, medium and long-term priorities, that will help partners align support, increase justice financing, collect data and evidence on what works, and drive implementation for measurable progress by 2023.
  • Prioritize financing for justice in the first half of 2020, with HiiL’s pulse report, the World Bank’s work on investing in justice and several studies being done on modalities for justice funding, as a solid basis for Financing for Development discussions at the HLPF. Pathfinders will also rally funders in a collaborative with the goal of presenting a package of financial commitments at the Secretary-General’s SDG Action Platform in September.
  • Work with partners on a series of regional and thematic meetings of Justice Leaders, including in the Sahel, MENA region, Manu River Union, Melanesian countries, and in the context of the OECD, the g7+, the Open Government Partnership, ASEAN and the Commonwealth.
  • Continue to accelerate action, gather evidence of what works and mobilize partners to increase justice for women, including during the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and Beijing +25 events, and justice for children, including during the Kyoto Crime Congress and HLPF, and develop a challenge paper with a coalition of people working on justice for refugees.
  • Develop a shared narrative and identify justice champions to support campaigning and mobilization on Justice for All, working with the Elders, the Justice for All Campaign, and new partners such as Global Citizen.

5. Inequality and Exclusion in 2020

In 2020, the Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion will:

  • Draw attention to how addressing gender equality leads to improved outcomes for everyone, as part of the week of CSW.
  • Support polling exercises in different countries to better understand the priorities of citizens and test the political acceptance of different measures to tackle inequality and exclusion, as a contribution to the UN75 global conversation on the world we want.
  • Help make the case for investing in policies that reduce inequality and promote inclusion. In April, at the Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank, the Grand Challenge will showcase progressive fiscal taxation policies which can both address inequality and make the journey to political acceptance.
  • Hold meetings of the Advisory Council in Jakarta in Spring 2020 and Addis Ababa in Fall 2020 where Ministers from member states and research experts will engage to make sure the solutions produced will be adapted for relevance in terms of country context and setting.
  • Undertake country visits to Sweden, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Uruguay and Tunisia to help showcase the successful actions that countries are already taking to reduce exclusion and inequality, share relevant learning between countries and provide accompaniment to members on challenges they face.
  • Produce a series of solution papers in crucial areas ranging from political participation, empowering social spending, spatial inclusion, fiscal compromises and the future of decent work.
  • Continue to raise exclusion and inequality on the international agenda, and make the case for policies that can tackle both in tandem.

6. SDG16+ in Ethiopia

The CIC-Pathfinders team with members of Ethiopia’s Planning and Development Commission

In early November, a group of CIC-Pathfinders staff traveled to Ethiopia to meet with government and civil society representatives working to deliver SDG16+. Hosted by the Planning and Development Commission of Ethiopia (Commissioner Fitsum Assefa Adela is a member of the Advisory Council for the Grand Challenge of Inequality and Exclusion), the mission’s goal was to gain a better understanding of the context and dynamics at play on issues which are central to the Government’s priorities in delivering the SDGs.

The team was able to meet with the Ministers of Innovation and Technology, Labor and Social Affairs, and Finance, as well as high-level officials of the Peace and Reconciliation Commission, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Peace, the Human Rights Commission and the Attorney General’s Office, among others. These discussions explored how to incorporate policy approaches to SDG16+ into Ethiopia’s forthcoming National Development Plan and the different Ministries’ agendas. Further conversations with civil society groups and visits to different social development program sites informed the team’s discussions and recommendations offered to the Government. The trip also included visits to the World Bank, the IMF, and UNECA, and meetings with representatives of bodies like the AU, IGAD, in order to understand regional dynamics of peace, justice and exclusion.

A site visit to a social development program.

7. Welcoming a new Pathfinder

Over the last year, the Pathfinders have supported a series of high-level meetings with Pathfinders member states to discuss the latest developments and opportunities for engagement on SDG16+. The Permanent Mission of Indonesia kindly hosted the final breakfast meeting of this year to have a strategic conversation on upcoming activities, events, and proposals for bridging the gap and accelerating implementation on peace, justice, and inclusion. The dialogue also outlined opportunities to support the UN75 global conversation to the Decade of Action for Sustainable Development and the first SDG Action Platform, which will be held as part of the 75th anniversary.

During the breakfast, the Pathfinders welcomed its latest member state — the Republic of Costa Rica. Now with 32 members and other partners, the Pathfinders will work together to seize the opportunity over the next year to increase ambitions and actions for SDG16+.

8. Exploring new dimensions of inequality — HDR 2019

This year, the UN’s Human Development Report has a clear overarching message: “To answer global protests, tackle new inequalities.” The 2019 HDR explores new dimensions of inequality brought forth by phenomena ranging from technology to climate change. The report encourages looking beyond income to how inequalities originate at early stages of people’s lives and are exacerbated by disparities in access to health, education, productive employment, and political participation. It emphasizes the multiple factors that contribute to inequalities today, the entrenched cultural norms that damage societal relations and further these disparities. Importantly, the report lays the groundwork for adapting policy approaches to tackle inequality and promote a human development approach that brings people together rather than further apart.

In his contribution to the 2019 HDR, Ben Phillips, who is supporting the Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion, describes three fundamental lessons to truly tackle inequality: 1) part of the journey requires steering away from acceptance and advocating for unpopular ideas; 2) organizing coalitions to build collective power; and 3) construct a new narrative to breathe life into the new vision of a better society.

9. Youth and the State: addressing the violence of exclusion

Last week, Pathfinders’ Michael Higgins, Program Director for the Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion participated in a meeting on Youth and the State at Wilton Park, an international forum for strategic discussion focusing on issues of international security, prosperity and justice. The meeting was held as a follow-up to the Wilton Park dialogue on Youth, Peace and Security and CVE, which took place in Washington, DC in April 2019.

The purpose of the meeting was to identify key constraints and opportunities for reversing youth exclusion and improving relations between young people and their respective governments, linking this to broader processes of building peaceful, just and inclusive societies. This included developing a plan for concerted action that draws from the reports and existing normative and policy frameworks, and then addresses the specific roles of youth activists, governments and regional organizations, other development partners/donor institutions and practitioners. An action plan may be developed in subsequent meetings.

10. Justice for Women strategy meeting

The question, “What’s next for Justice for Women?” brought together key stakeholders for a strategy meeting on 10 December in New York. Pathfinders’ Maaike de Langen presented the joint strategy on Justice for All for 2020–2023. Following the same three priorities the meeting discussed:

  • Accelerating national action to deliver justice for women
  • International and regional support to national action
  • Mobilization and building the movement for justice for all.
Pathfinders’ Maaike de Langen participating in the Justice for Women strategy meeting.

Participants included representatives of IDLO, UN Women, UNDP, The Elders, Justice Canada, World Bank, Global Citizen and Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security. They discussed new and ongoing projects, and identified potential areas of collaboration around data, upcoming events, and the key opportunity of 2020, during CSW and the events related to Beijing +25.

Look out for events and more information coming soon!

11. Peace in Our Cities

The Peace in Our Cities campaign continues to build momentum since its launch in September. A group of city officials are due to meet in Amman, Jordan in February, 2020 for an expert kick-off meeting to identify the focus areas on violence reduction and prevention and asks for support.

The campaign also continues to attract new partners. We are happy to have the Stanley Center for Peace and Security onboard as the latest member of the campaign. Read the Stanley Center’s pledge to help us amplify the impact of mayors and city officials in the coming year.

We are also thrilled to welcome Oakland, California as the latest city to join the Peace in Our Cities campaign as an early adopter city, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise on urban violence reduction and a desire to continue enhancing and improving its violence reduction strategies.

12. Webinar: Access to Justice reforms and Open Government

There is growing interest by many governments and civil society organizations to link access to justice with open government, and to use the platform of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) as a mechanism for making progress towards global goals such as SDG16+.

A recent webinar focused on access to justice reforms in Argentina and Sierra Leone. The government of Argentina is currently co-chair of the Open Government Partnership and has made justice one of its priorities. The Webinar also discussed the OGP Coalition on Justice, as well as other justice actions globally that seek to put people at the center of justice systems as envisioned in SDG16+.

Speakers included Gustavo Maurino, National Director of Access to Justice, Ministry of Justice, Argentina, Eleanor Thompson, Human Rights Lawyer and Policy Advocate, Namati Sierra Leone and Maaike de Langen, Justice Program Lead, Pathfinders.

Listen to the recording of the webinar or learn more about access to justice in OGP’s Justice Policy publication series.

13. Accelerating implementation of SDG16

Pathfinders’ Maaike de Langen participated in a panel discussion on “Accelerating the implementation of SDG16: Countries taking action for Justice for All” on 4 December.

UN Conference Room 6 was packed with people who came to hear what countries are doing to accelerate action for Justice for All. The Permanent Mission of Georgia organized the event, jointly with Pathfinders, the Republic of Korea, Argentina and Sierra Leone. The discussion provided concrete examples of people-centered justice at the national level and placed access to justice in the context of broader global trends.

Ambassador Kaha Imnadze from Georgia opened the panel by calling attention to the global justice gap with over 5.1 billion people deprived of justice — as estimate in the Justice for All report. With two-thirds of the world’s population lacking meaningful access to justice, he emphasized both the foundational nature and the universality of SDG16. “How can we attain any of the targets in the 2030 agenda if there is no access to justice?” he asked.

Anthony Triolo, who recently joined the Pathfinders team to work on accelerating justice action, reports on the full discussion here.

14. Legal Empowerment Leadership Course 2019

Legal empowerment is: knowing, using and shaping the law.

The 5th Legal Empowerment Leadership Course took place earlier this month in Budapest, hosted by Central European University, and organized by Namati, Open Society Foundation, and NYU Bernstein Institute.

Pathfinders’ Alisa Jimenez joined civil society leaders from around the world for an inspiring and energizing week-long course, making connections across different disciplines and contexts. Focusing on gender and environmental justice, participants shared methodologies, experiences, and lessons while supporting one another in the development of individual action plans. Courses included case studies on the paralegal movement in the Philippines, land rights movements in Kenya and the United States as well as participatory defense.

On the last day of the course, Alisa presented the findings of the Justice for All report and plans for the upcoming year to all participants.

The Global Legal Empowerment Network is a powerful network of practitioners and their allies, to learn more, check out:

15. Champions of Change: Eddie Hartman

“There must be a different way to give people access to legal help — we can do it cheaper, we can do it more efficiently, we can do it to a higher level of quality.”

In our latest Champions of Change interview, Eddie Hartman shares the story of LegalZoom, founded out of a search for a way to break down barriers to civil and administrative justice procedures, and the need to disrupt the traditional legal market, where high fees remain significant barriers for the average person. Since it launched in 2001, LegalZoom has helped almost 4 million Americans address their justice problems using a people-centred approach to justice.

Read the interview to learn more about how the role of entrepreneurship, innovation and people centered justice came together to challenge, and change, the way people engage with the legal system.

16. Champions of Change: Jhody Polk

Legal empowerment advocate, Jhody Polk.

“When people become legally empowered, they can become leaders and they can be their own change makers, no matter where they are.”

Justice advocate, Jhody Polk, saw first-hand the transformative role of legal empowerment, not only inside prisons, but also among those affected by incarceration in her community. In 2018, Jhody founded Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Hub (LEAH) home to the first participatory defense hub in the state of Florida and the Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative.

In her Champions of Change interview, Jhody walks through her journey from inmate, to jailhouse law clerk, to advocate and change-maker. Read more, here.

Plus 16 things we’re reading

  1. An innovative approach to access to justice in Brussels: ‘Justibus
  2. How to build justice for children, with children, by Kristen Hope, Research, Advocacy and Participation Advisor, Terre des hommes
  3. How to Tackle Inequality: Lessons From Mexico’s Successful Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage’ from Ben Phillips
  4. An exploration of the current ‘debtors’ prison’ model in the U.S., from Pathfinders‘ Alisa Jimenez
  5. Why we need to ‘get serious about civil peace’, from International Alert’s CEO, Michael Young
  6. The Stanley Center for Peace and Security’s commitment to the Peace in Our Cities Campaign
  7. The New York Times’ fascinating deep-dive on inequality in American cities
  8. What can we learn from the climate movement?
  9. How impoverished Moroccans are being ‘left behind by the development boom’ in the country
  10. Corruption is destroying the world’s forests’ from Transparency International
  11. An interview with the co-founder of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project to bring emergency legal aid to asylum seekers and pushing for justice for all in the U.S
  12. An investment case for SDG16
  13. My eight-year plan to dramatically reduce urban gun violence’, by Thomas Abt
  14. ‘The rich and powerful threw the first stone’, Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman examines what’s behind ongoing protests in Chile
  15. The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations’s (IDDRI) ‘Initial assessment and conditions for success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  16. What we’re listening to: Global Goalscast