February 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 and @SDG16Plus.

1. Pathfinders spearheading action in 2020: A message from Liv Tørres

As we approach the UN’s 75th anniversary, we all know that multilateralism is under great pressure. That democratic space itself is under massive stress. That global inequality is increasing. That 5.1 billion people cannot access justice. That close to 500,000 people are killed in violence every year. And that unless we demonstrate urgent action to move things in the right direction, we will have problems spiraling out of control.

Yet, the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies are not inclined to complain, grow discouraged or give up. The Pathfinders are all set to identify results and what works, and to establish alliances and partnerships that promote action on the delivery of the SDGs, thereby contributing to a more peaceful, fair, sustainable and just world. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I am happy to be here at the Center on International Cooperation, and to be able to contribute to delivering the agenda and goals that the Pathfinders have so ambitiously set out. I have seen conflicts and massive humanitarian needs on the ground in many years in the humanitarian sector. I have seen the importance of leadership provided by Nobel Peace Prize laureates in my past few years with the Nobel Peace Center. I have learned the value of fact-finding and knowledge-building in many years in the academic sector. And I have learned the significance of politics through years spent in the field around the world. And I believe that in 2020 there is an urgent need for fact-seeking, results-driven, alliance-ready governments and leaders to spearhead action in the decade ahead.

Read a new blog post outlining what to expect from the Pathfinders in 2020, from our new director, Liv Tørres.

2. Follow us at @SDG16Plus

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our @SDG16Plus Twitter account, the official home to the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies. Follow us for the latest at @SDG16Plus, as we work to accelerate the delivery of SDG targets for peace, justice and inclusion!

3. Launching a new strategy for Justice for All

A growing group of organisations is coming together to shape the Decade of Action for Justice for All. They have embraced a shared strategy to accelerate implementation of the justice-related goals and targets of the 2030 agenda over the next four years (2020–2023).

The Shared Strategy for Justice for All, sets priorities, provides direction and is inspired by the Justice for All report. The three priorities are:

  1. Support accelerated action at national level, through greater political support for people-centered justice, strengthened capacity to implement evidence-based strategies and plans, and increased commitments by national justice leaders.
  2. National action needs coherent and comprehensive support from international and regional actors, and from multi-stakeholder partnerships and networks. Increased financing and better data and evidence will improve implementation and increase the likelihood of measurable results by 2023.
  3. An effective and empowered global, regional, national, and local movement for justice for all will amplify demand for change, create space for partners from all sectors to work for justice for all, and counter adverse political trends.

The Shared Strategy has been developed with partners and will remain a living document. It offers an opportunity for organizations to align their efforts and work more effectively together. Cooperation on communications will allow partners to strengthen the shared narrative on justice for all. Partners will increase their exchange around support to national efforts and evidence of what works.

(Photo: ©HiiL/Harmen de Jong)

The Shared Strategy was launched at the Peace Palace in The Hague during the Innovating Justice Forum. Task Force member Allyson Maynard Gibson emphasized the need for international cooperation to support national action, Pathfinders’ Liv Tørres spoke to the importance of making justice for all central to the achievement of the SDG16+ goals, and Maaike de Langen concluded with an African proverb: “Go alone, and you will go faster. Go together, and you will go further.”

Read the Shared Strategy and what partners are doing to support it on the new and improved website of the Pathfinders for Justice: https://www.justice.sdg16.plus/.

If you would like to join or know more about the shared strategy and the Justice Alliance, please reach out to: justice@sdg16.plus.

4. The Decade Action for SDG16+

UN Photo/Mark Garten

2020 marks the start of a 10-year countdown to the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Branded the “Decade of Action” by the UN, this decade needs to be defined by a unprecedented global increase in catalytic financing, inspiring high-level political, and groundbreaking collective action toward SDG16+ targets for peace, justice, and inclusion.

The Secretary-General recently remarked that this global milestone, in combination with the 75th anniversary of the UN, requires us to defeat the “four horsemen” in our midst — the four looming threats that endanger the progress we need and the future we want:

  1. escalating violence and conflicts that has displaced more families from their homes and caused widespread misery than at any time since the Second World War
  2. climate change and environmental degradation that is putting unprecedented pressure on finite resources and services
  3. deep and growing inequality that is breeding global mistrust, social injustice, and hostility, with more people frustrated that the status quo is not working for them
  4. new technologies that incite violence, fake information, oppress and exploit people and deepen the growing divide in societies.

Defeating these four horsemen requires more than simply beautiful speeches. At the upcoming SDG Action Platform in September, the ticket of entry for leaders will be announcements of concrete actions and transformational initiatives.

The Pathfinders are committed to making 2020 the year of urgency, giving a priority to the voices of young people who are at the forefront of demanding change and innovative solutions.

Below are five recent actions by champions already answering the call for a Decade of Action:

  1. Parliamentarians are translating political dialogue into tangible action worldwide
  2. Resident Coordinators share their message on the decade of action
  3. High-level panel on financial accountability, transparency and integrity (FACTI)
  4. Business leaders are standing up for a decade for sustainability
  5. 20 activists and 2,000 supporters issue an open letter calling for bolder SDG action

5. New acceleration actions for justice

Afghanistan has become the first g7+ country to register an acceleration action on justice for all in the UN SDG Partnerships Platform. The Ministry of Justice has committed to develop a comprehensive legal aid system across Afghanistan. This is meant to improve people’s justice journeys by empowering people and communities and providing access to people-centered justice services.

This commitment will advance implementation of Afghanistan’s 2019 Legal Aid Regulation by establishing a Legal Aid High Commission and Secretariat to ensure effective and quality legal services for all, in particular those at risk of being left behind. The Ministry of Justice will work with the International Legal Foundation. Read more about the registered acceleration action here.

The UN’s global registry of actions for the SDG’s remains open. For more information, or to register your acceleration action, visit this site. The world needs more transformative actions if we are to close the justice gap and increase justice in people’s lives and communities.

6. Peace in Our Cities

Since its launch on International Peace Day, Sept. 21, 2019, the Peace in Our Cities campaign has grown to include 15 cities (U.S. cities, Oakland, California and Dayton, Ohio are the latest additions) and more than a dozen of institutional partners supporting efforts to halve urban violence by 50 percent by 2030. Earlier this month, representatives of mayors and partners gathered for a senior staff strategy retreat in Amman, Jordan organized by the campaign co-facilitators, with the support of the Stanley Center for Peace and Security and hosted by the Generations for Peace. It was the first such gathering of campaign members, and an opportunity to further identify concrete commitments to urban violence reduction being taken forward by mayors around the world. Participants also worked on a draft “Mayors’ Declaration for A Decade of Action for Peace in our Cities,” to be presented at the upcoming UN General Assembly in September 2020. The mayor of Amman, Yousef Shawarbeh, welcomed participants and underscored his pride in his city, as one of the ‘early-adopters’ of the Peace in Our Cities campaign.

(From left: Pathfinders’ Bojan Francuz, Impact:Peace’s Rachel Locke, City of Oakland’s Guillermo Cespedes)

Following the Amman meeting, campaign co-facilitators Bojan Francuz, Pathfinders Program Associate, and Rachel Locke, Director of Impact:Peace, were featured on a panel at UN-Habitat’s World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi, UAE where they discussed the campaign and its significance in the context of the Decade of Action for the SDGs. The discussion was also an opportunity for the chief of the Urban Violence Reduction Unit for the city of Oakland, Guillermo Cespedes, to share insights on what worked for the city to cut homicides by nearly half.

7. Fighting inequality in Africa

From left: Joab Okanda, Obeth Kandjoze, Manty Tarawalli, President Bio, Dr Fitsum, Peter Kamalingin

During this year’s AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, high level participants from Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Namibia and Burkina Faso came together with Oxfam Pan Africa to host a dialogue on “Fighting Inequality in Africa” where they shared lessons, experiences and policy ideas. Sierra Leone and Ethiopia are core members of the advisory council of the Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion, and Namibia and Burkina Faso are frequent collaborators with the Grand Challenge. A key message from the event: inequality is a result of policy choices and not an inevitability.

Speakers included:

  • H.E Julius Maada Bio, President, Sierra Leone
  • H.E. Obeth Kandjoze — Minister of Economic Planning, Namibia
  • H.E. Dr Fitsum Assefa Adela — Minister, Planning and Development Commission Ethiopia
  • H.E. Alpha Barry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Burkina Faso,
  • H.E Manty Tarawalli, Minister, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Sierra Leone
  • Mr. Peter Kamalingin, Pan-Africa Director, Oxfam international

8. World Day of Social Justice

There has been an incredible response to Joaquin Phoenix’s acceptance speech at the Oscars. It’s not hard to see why. He noted that while people champion different causes and different rights issues, at their base is an impulse to fight injustice.

The upcoming World Day of Social Justice on Feb 20th which has the theme of “Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice”, is a chance for us to see the linkages and connections between our efforts to deliver justice, equality, peace and a sustainable environment.

We need to think of issues like injustice and exclusion, not as much in terms of processes, but in their outcomes for ordinary people.

When we talk of social justice, it’s important to move beyond the surface, and look at the deeper structural factors which lead to injustice being replicated and reproduced. We can’t neglect the underlying economic, ecological and ideological terrain.

Echoing Joaquin Phoenix, World Day of Social Justice is an opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless. We should take it.

9. Looking ahead: CSW2020

This year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW2020) also marks the 25th anniversary of Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA). To mark this anniversary, the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) will convene and event on Justice for Women and Girls: From BPfA to the SDGs: Moving from Commitments to Outcomes.

The event, taking place on Wednesday, 11 March from 6–8pm, and supported by The Elders and Pathfinders, will feature a panel to review progress on justice for women and girls across the Beijing Platform’s 12 critical areas of concerns, focusing on identifying pathways to create and catalyze real change.

Learn more about the Justice for Women agenda here. For more information on the event, please reach out to: justice@sdg16.plus.

10. Financing justice for all

In her inaugural speech as President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Ambassador Mona Juul of Norway, vowed to make financing for development a priority for 2020.

As an early contribution to these discussions, HiiL’s 2020 Trend report on Charging for Justice, brings together insights and evidence on financing Justice for All. The report was presented last week in The Hague and will continue to be strengthened over the coming months. Based on discussions at the forum, the report will be finalized ahead of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July 2020.

Two highlights:

  • We need to set an inspiring goal of 100% coverage of effective solutions for the most urgent and frequent justice problems. This can unite justice workers and policy makers and drive the accelerated action we need to close the justice gap.
  • The report identifies four potential game-changers that could dramatically impact justice outcomes for people: legal aid in criminal cases, one-stop shops for family justice, online platforms for legal documents and local delivery of basic justice.

11. How harnessing the power of the media achieved a justice transformation

Lurdes Barbosa Cárdenas

Lurdes Barbosa Cárdenas uses radio programs to trigger the cultural shifts that are needed if new justice-related policies are to have a lasting impact on people’s lives. The award-winning NGO she founded, Mujeres en Frecuencia (FM Women), has reached millions of Mexicans with its programming and messages on gender equality. Established in 1999, the organization deploys creative communication strategies to address discrimination against women and girls, increase awareness of the law among communities that have been excluded from its benefits, and help promote a culture of lawfulness that benefits those who have traditionally been vulnerable to abuse.

Pathfinders’ Alisa Jiménez spoke to Lurdes about her work and about the continuing relevance of radio and its ability to deliver messages to people. Read this justice Champions of Change piece here.

12. The mediators promoting justice for all in Nigerian courts

The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse team

Nigerians face an estimated 25 million new legal problems each year. Only two out of ten will engage with formal institutions. The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse was founded in 2002 as the first court connected alternative dispute resolution center in Africa. The courthouse has helped to reduce the backlog of civil cases in Lagos, the country’s most densely populated city and its economic capital. The average court case in Nigeria takes 4–10 years to conclude, but the lifespan of cases before the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse is between 3–5 months.

Director Adeyinka Aroyewun and Deputy Director Achere Cole spoke to Pathfinders’ Kimberly Brown to share how the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse accelerates justice for all. Read this justice Champions of Change interview here.

13. It takes legal empowerment to solve the housing crisis

Mukuru, Nairobi (Photo: Muungano wa Wanavijiji)

Globally 22% of justice problems that people face are related to housing, land and neighbors, one of the six most common justice problems identified in the Justice for All report. In a new guest blog, justice experts Adrian Di Giovanni (IDRC), Luciana Bercovich (Namati), Megan Chapman (JEI), Maria Silvia Emanuelli (HIC-AL), Leilani Farha (UNSR), Emily Kinama (Katiba), Pablo Vitale (ACIJ), discuss the global housing crisis, drawing on experiences in supporting informal settlement communities in Argentina, Kenya, Mexico and Nigeria.

Read the blog here.

14. How civil society action led to fairer taxation in Mexico

In October 2019, following an NGO-led legal case, Mexico’s tax administration was forced to publish information on almost every case of tax rebate and cancellation. The publication of this data, which included cases involving many of Mexico’s wealthiest and well-known personalities, sent shockwaves through Mexican society. Fundar’s success at leveraging strategic litigation, public outreach, and the changing political environment provides a model for how civil society can play an effective role in catalyzing reforms — both in Mexico, and beyond.

Read a new blog by Pathfinders’ Paul von Chamier here.

15. Carving our meaningful space for justice in the Women, Peace and Security Agenda?

UN Photo

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, Pathfinders’ Kimberly Brown wrote down her thoughts on how we can carve out meaningful space for justice in the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.

Read her quick backgrounder and thoughts on opportunities for 2020, here.

16. We’re hiring!

Pathfinders is seeking a Program Head for the Grand Challenge on SDG16.1 (significantly reduce all forms of violence everywhere), as we design a movement to halve global violence by 2030.

Interested? Read a more detailed description of this exciting position and apply here.

Plus 16 things we’re reading

  1. More than two-thirds of migrants fleeing Central American region had family taken or killed (The Guardian)
  2. Next generation urban planning: Enabling sustainable development at the local level through voluntary local reviews (VLRs) (Brookings)
  3. Fees, fines and ability to pay (The Hill)
  4. Op-ed: Most political unrest has one big root cause: soaring inequality (The Guardian)
  5. The domino effect of inequality (UNDP blog)
  6. Six Charts Explain South Africa’s Inequality (IMF)
  7. 6 facts about economic inequality in the U.S. (Pew Research Center)
  8. Op-ed: Digital IDs Make Systemic Bias Worse (Wired)
  9. Igarapé’s new report: Prevention of Youth Violence in Brazil (available in Portuguese)
  10. ‘I’ll put those monsters behind bars’: India’s law school for rape survivors (The Guardian)
  11. Accounting bodies call for urgent overhaul of corporate SDG reporting (BusinessGreen)
  12. What Works to Improve A2JL series: Making people agree … and comply, perhaps (HiiL)
  13. What Works to Improve A2J series: Not just more legal advice and access to courts (HiiL)
  14. The Future of Development is Local (Foreign Policy)
  15. Women, Burdened With Unpaid Labor, Bear Brunt of Global Inequality (New York Times)
  16. One in four countries beset by civil strife as global unrest soars (The Guardian)