December 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 — and check out the website.


We are at a critical juncture in history. The COVID-19 pandemic presents us with a stark choice to breakdown or breakthrough. We can allow the impact of the crisis to result in less equal, poorer, more divided, and more violent societies. Or we can choose to change course, delivering a people-centered recovery that builds a safer and fairer world for all. The choices we face demand moral courage, bold action, smart solutions, and unflinching recognition that solidarity and trust is needed to meet the hopes and needs of all people.

The Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies come together to demonstrate such leadership. Bringing together 39 UN member states — high, middle, and low-income, and representing every region of the world — and over 100 partners across international organizations, civil society, and the private sector, we are dedicated to raising the political ambition on peace, justice, and inclusion (SDG16+).

Below, we highlight the action and significant progress made in each of our Grand Challenge areas in 2021, reflecting the positive steps forward on SDG16+ made despite the challenges of the past year:

1. Halving Global Violence in 2021

The Pathfinders’ youngest Grand Challenge, Halving Global Violence (HGV), continues to scale up its activities. In 2021, HGV has:

  • Secured political and thought leadership by forming the high-level Halving Global Violence Task Force, which was introduced at the Peace One Day’s 2021 annual flagship event and issued a joint political statement on International Day of Peace. We also welcomed a fifth Task Force co-chair, Hyuk-Sang Sohn, President of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), bringing the Agency’s experience and insights in advancing peace in Asia and more broadly.
  • Instigated discussions and shaped the conversation about the past, present and future of violence with prominent thinkers, among them Steven Pinker, and innovative coalitions and resources for violence reduction.
  • Contributed to shaping the UN Secretary-General’s recently launched Our Common Agenda, which referenced our efforts as an example of an innovative, inclusive way to approach the proposed New Agenda for Peace.
  • Continued to assist in growing the Peace in Our Cities (PiOC) network of mayors and city leaders committed to halving urban violence, including by facilitating knowledge exchanges, connecting them to practical support (expertise and resources), and amplifying their voices in the international forums. (see summary of achievements issued with Co-facilitating partners on PiOC’s second anniversary in September, 2021).
  • Boosted the capacities of the Gender Equality Network for Small Arms Control (GENSAC) secretariat, allowing it to better support its members through ongoing advocacy activities globally. GENSAC issued a statement during UN PoA BMS7 and a joint one with partner IANSA during CSW65. The network initiated regional campaigns with partners like WILPF in Africa and SEHLAC in Latin America, and increased knowledge production and exchange and direct support for members.

2. Justice for All in 2021

The political support for ensuring equal access to justice for all was strengthened in 2021 and the movement that works to put people at the center of justice continued to grow:

  • In April sixteen ministers sent a joint letter to the UN Secretary-General, with a call to put people at the center of justice. These same countries have joined forces in the Justice Action Coalition aiming to influence global agendas, exchange on national priorities and work on a set of joint deliverables ahead of the 2023 SDG summit.
  • Working towards these same goals are the Young Justice Leaders, a new initiative launched in November. It will create a space for young leaders working towards justice for all, to discuss, contribute, engage and share expertise with one another and as part of the larger justice movement.
  • The third and final briefing of the Justice in a Pandemic series, Justice for All and the Social Contract in Peril, was released in July.
  • A group of organizations representing key actors from across the justice sector have formed the Ibero-American Justice Alliance, with members from Latin America, Portugal, and Spain. The Alliance is a platform for exchange and will develop a regional strategy on people-centered justice, a progress report on justice for all and build a regional peer-to-peer learning network for practitioners.
  • The Global Week for Justice 2021 brought the global community working for justice together for a series of meetings and publications. It included the second Global Dialogue of Justice Leaders, hosted by the Ministry of Justice of Latvia, co-organized with OECD, OGP and the Pathfinders. The Global Dialogue was an official side-event to the US Summit for Democracy and adopted the Riga Justice Agenda.

3. Inequality and Exclusion in 2021

2021 marked the culmination of the first phase of the Grand Challenge, bringing together country, expert, and civil society insight on how we can address inequality and exclusion.

  • Our Flagship report launch, From rhetoric to action: Delivering equality and inclusion in September 2021, attracted seven heads of state and government — representing Costa Rica, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sweden, New Zealand, Ireland, and Bangladesh — alongside regional and civil society leaders from OXFAM, the Open Government Partnership (OGP), UNECA, experts including Nobel Prize Laureate Prof Joseph Stiglitz, and Oscar winner Forest Whitaker.

    The From rhetoric to action flagship report reminds us that change is possible, highlighting that almost half of all countries did witness a reduction in inequality or exclusion in the past 30 years. Although some of these countries saw this progress reversed subsequently, countries that have reduced inequality and exclusion overtime have acted to create visible material change, build solidarity across groups, and secure credibility by tackling corruption. As the public demands action to back-up the slogan “build back better” — this report will continue to be a policy toolkit for those wanting to enact progressive change. The initiative will now move to focusing on working with countries, civil society, and multilateral partners to implement policy change.

4. Upcoming Events

Stay tuned for these upcoming events and meetings:

  • 2022 UCLG Peace Prize for Local Governments — Thursday, 16 December
    Daniel Mack, Program Lead for the Halving Global Violence Grand Challenge, will join the virtual launch of the 2022 edition of the UCLG Peace Prize for local governments. The event will feature an impressive lineup of inspiring speakers discussing the potential of local governments in promoting peace.

    Get more information and register, here.
  • Space Transformers Live 2021 — Tuesday, 21 December
    We are partnering with Peace One Day for its upcoming global event Space Transformers Live 2021 on 21 December 2021 — a digital experience giving voice to young change makers, thinkers, and innovators who are working towards a more peaceful and sustainable world. During this event, Pathfinders will launch its Pathfinders Trailblazers initiative, as well as spotlight the recently launched Young Justice Leaders, which is part of a broader effort to raise visibility, voice, and leadership of young people that are blazing a trail in peace, justice, and inclusion within the Pathfinders.

    Be sure to register, here.

5. SDG16+ Champions 2021

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+). In case you missed it, explore a roundup of the inspiring SDG16+ champions we talked to and learned from in 2021:

6. In case you missed it…

Catch up on some of the best blogs and commentaries from the Pathfinders and guests throughout 2021:

Halving Global Violence:

Justice for All:

Inequality & Exclusion:

Plus 16 things we’re reading

  1. Opinion: I Was There When the Global Goal for Peace & Justice Was Born. Now I Want You to Fight for It. (By Rubén Escalante-Hasbún, Global Citizen)
  2. News: Action Coalition on Gender-based Violence calls on all actors to join the 5-year drive to eradicate violence against women and girls (Generation Equality)
  3. Analysis: The World’s First National Action Plan on Youth, Peace and Security — An analysis of Finnish commitments (GNWP)
  4. Policy brief: Delivering people-centred justice, rigorously. (HiiL)
  5. Report: State of inequality: HIV, tuberculosis and malaria (WHO)
  6. Interview: Q&A: Legal Empowerment Fund Director, Atieno Odhiambo (Pathfinders)
  7. Handbook: Making the Law Work for People: Legal Empowerment and Inclusive Innovation (Open Society Foundations)
  8. Report: Forgotten by Funders (Women Beyond Walls)
  9. Policy Brief: Taking Action for Justice: The Justice for All Movement and the Open Government Partnership (by Maha Jweied, Pathfinders)
  10. Podcast: The Elders Series: Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (Finding Humanity)
  11. Guest Blog: Global Justice Through Small Grants: What the COVID-19 Grassroots Justice Fund Did Right (Legal Empowerment Network)
  12. News: Andrew Mack Dialogue on Peace & Security discusses the transformation of violence (The Peak)
  13. Analysis: How debt is making global inequality worse (By Anthony Faiola, The Washington Post)
  14. Report: OECD Framework and Good Practice Principles for People-Centred Justice (OECD)
  15. Report: Good Practice Principles for People-centred Justice (OECD)
  16. Report: The Contribution of Parliaments to Sustainable Development Goal 16 Through Security Sector Governance and Reform (DCAF)