March 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 website.

1. SDG16+ — The key to managing the COVID-19 crisis


“While hard to believe, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is just getting started. This is an outbreak, the likes of which we have not seen in our lifetime. This is not the time — and I am not the person — to dole out health advice or information on the virus from better-suited sources and authorities. I do, however, want to bring attention to the unprecedented risks we face in our work for peaceful, just and inclusive societies at this precarious moment. If we are not attentive to these challenges now, they may well reinforce and exacerbate this global health crisis, creating new cycles of social unrest and collective violence at a time when governments, businesses and civil society have limited capacity to focus on anything else. We will be able to manage one crisis, if we do it right: rapidly and dramatically reducing COVID-19 infections and scaling-up efforts to identify a vaccine. But if we allow spill-over effects, secondary problems and new crises to proliferate on top of this health emergency, we will be entering into truly uncertain and dangerous territory. We have to manage the pandemic whilst also strengthening governance, watching the distribution of resources and make justice more people-centered. In other words, we must manage the pandemic through the lens of SDG16+.”

In a new blog post, Pathfinders director, Liv Tørres outlines how continuing work to build more peaceful, just and inclusive societies may be the key to navigate through the current health crisis.

2. StatsCom adopts new SDG indicator on justice for all

The UN’s Statistical Commission has adopted a new — people-centered — indicator to measure progress in providing justice for all as part of the official SDG indicator framework.

  • Administrative data — which has been most commonly used in the past — tells us little about people’s experience of justice and injustice.
  • The new indicator is people-centered and can be collected by National Statistics Offices by adding just four questions to the surveys they conduct.
  • The original SDG indicator framework includes only two indicators on justice, both relating to criminal justice: the proportion of victims reporting violence and the proportion of detainees that are unsentenced (16.3.1 and 16.3.2).
  • The new indicator 16.3.3 will measure the number of people that have had a justice problem in the past two years, what type of dispute they had and if they have accessed a formal or informal dispute resolution mechanism.
  • At the national level the new indicator can be a fruitful basis for more detailed legal needs surveys that help us understand how peoples’ justice issues arise, are experienced and affect a broad range of development priorities.

In the same meeting of the StatsCom, the new Handbook on Governance Statistics was presented, which recognizes people-centered justice measures as a core dimension of governance statistics.

Many of our justice partners have worked for years to get to this point, in particular OSJI, the OECD, WJP, UNDP and UNODC. Recognizing these important efforts, the Pathfinders’ Task Force on Justice recommended to agree a new SDG16.3 indicator to measure progress on civil justice.

Pathfinders’ Maaike de Langen gave a brief explainer on the indicator in this Twitter thread.

3. Paving the Way towards bullet-proof inclusion in small arms control

From 20–21 of February, the Pathfinders, in partnership with the German Federal Foreign Office, organized the first-ever conference of the new Gender Equality Network for Small Arms (GENSAC) initiative “Towards Bullet Proof Inclusion”. The conference brought together more than 80 experts, practitioners, representatives of the security sector, academics, and diplomats working on the issue of arms control, conflict prevention, gender, and development from countries in Africa, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Read a summary here. During the meeting, we launched an Action Paper spelling out seven strategies for a more gender responsive arms control in the Decade of Action on SDGs.

Ever since joining Pathfinders in early 2019, Germany continues to champion efforts to harness women’s leadership on small arms control for conflict prevention and development, in line with SDG16 (target 16.4) and SDG5. The establishment of GENSAC and Germany’s firm commitment to placing gender and arms control is at the center of the Pathfinders’ broader mobilization for a movement to halve global violence.

4. Gender Perspectives on Arms Control and Disarmament

On 25–26 February, the Pathfinders took part in a regional workshop organized by UNIDIR (United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research) on “Gender Perspectives on Arms Control and Disarmament: Views from Africa”. Bringing together more than 30 selected participants from international and regional organizations, government and civil society from across every region of sub-Saharan Africa. The workshop asked how international commitments to gender responsive small arms control can be turned into concrete action.

The Pathfinders presented our Action Paper on Gender Responsive Small Arms Control in the Decade Action for the SDGs, facilitated discussions on how the seven strategies outlined in the paper can spur commitments at regional, national and local levels, and introduced the newly launched GENSAC initiative. Participants shared national and local examples of progress, including the importance of including a gender perspective in national laws on small arms control and the key role of national commissions for mainstreaming gender across small arms control policies. Opportunities for progress were identified in strengthening the evidence base for effective gender responsive small arms control, the importance of African nations committing to international instruments for arms control, such as the Arms Trade Treaty, and linking these efforts to existing national policy frameworks for gender mainstreaming such as 1325 National Action Plans.

5. Women Mayors Mark International Women’s Day by Committing to Peace in Our Cities

“Our violence challenges look different. Our streets, economies, city centers and communities look different. But our collective commitment to peace unifies us.”

Three women mayors, including Rosy Senanayake, Mayor of Colombo, Sri Lanka; Clara Luz Flores, Mayor of Escobedo, Mexico; and Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, OH, USA, joined forces on International Women’s Day, to underscore how inclusive leadership builds safer cities and communities. In their joint statement, they noted that as mayors they see the see value in linking local efforts with a mass global mobilization, like the Peace In Our Cities campaign does.

Read their joint piece here.

6. Pathfinders working towards gender equality

“2020 offers the promise that a growing urgency to address gender inequality can be translated into tangible action at international, national, and local levels.”

In a new blog marking International Women’s Day, Pathfinders’ Paula Sevilla highlights what Pathfinder member states are doing to advance gender equality and fight gender-based discrimination and violence. Read her blog here.

7. CSW Political Declaration

CSW64 was intended to be a global event with 12,000 participants from across the world, but had to be drastically scaled back due to concerns regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19). The meeting took place with New York based representatives in attendance and lasted only one day.

Some SDG16+ highlights from the political declaration that was adopted:

  • Countries pledged to ensure equal access to justice and public services for all women and girls. They also pledged to eliminate all discriminatory laws and to ensure that laws, policies and programs benefit all women and girls.
  • Countries expressed concern that, overall, progress has not been fast or deep enough, that no country has fully achieved gender equality and that significant levels of inequality persist globally.
  • Countries committed to eliminating, preventing and responding to all forms of violence and harmful practices against all women and girls, and ensuring access to justice, and the provision of support services, including legal, health and social, to all women victims of violence.

8. The Justice Alliance expands

Last month, Pathfinders and its partners presented the Shared Strategy for Justice for All for 2020–2023 with three key priorities: accelerate action at national level, build a global and regional alliance to support national action and mobilize for justice for all. Partners supporting this strategy have committed to align their work and to support and collaborate with one another.

The number of justice partners in the Justice Alliance is growing. For example:

  • The Elders have shared their strategy and will use the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action to champion greater prioritization and commitments on access to justice for women, taking forward the recommendations of the Justice for Women report.
  • The Justice for All Campaign will advocate for greater investment in justice, host donor meetings and hold discussions at key global and regional moments in 2020, including at the Asia Pro Bono Conference, RightsCon, HLPF, and the UN’s 75th Anniversary Celebration.
  • The Open Government Partnership will launch the OGP Coalition on Justice in 2020, where ministries of justice and civil society organizations can share their actions on justice and develop justice-related commitments in their OGP Action Plans.

They are joined by a growing list of other partners, including HiiL, OECD, C.S. Mott Foundation, World Justice Project, Open Society Justice Initiative, ICTJ, Namati, Microjustice4All, Cordaid, University of South Carolina, IDLO, ILF (International Legal Foundation) and Terre des Hommes.

To learn more:

9. Justice for Women Strategy Update

On the heels of the UN political declaration adopted during the 64th session of the CSW, Pathfinders is pleased to present the report of its Justice for Women Strategy meeting.

In March 2019, the Justice for Women Report was launched by the High-Level Group on Justice for Women as a contribution to the work of the Pathfinders’ Task Force on Justice. The report concludes with the hope that the High-Level Group and partners would continue to work together through “commitments, consultations and advocacy to inform and inspire actions by governments, civil society and development partners, businesses, and employer and worker organizations.”

This year we celebrate Beijing +25, amongst other milestones for gender equality. In response to the Call to Action of the Justice for Women report Pathfinders hosted a Justice for Women Strategy meeting in New York on December 10, 2019, with a core group of partners. The group met to discuss interventions, future plans and identify opportunities for 2020.

The report outlines specific measures to accelerate national action on justice for women; international and regional support to national action, and opportunities for mobilizing for justice for women.

10. Transitional justice, peace and war — a talk with President Santos of Colombia

Earlier this month, Pathfinders’ Liv Tørres moderated the 11th Emilio Mignone Lecture on Transitional Justice (hosted by the International Center for Transitional Justice, ICTJ and NYU School of Law’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, CHR&GJ), where she joined President Juan Manuel Santos, former president of Colombia, in conversation on the role of transitional justice in peace processes.

In her blog, Liv shares highlights from the lecture. Watch a recording of their conversation here.

11. Champions of Change: How improving justice for children in Georgia led to lower reoffending rates

Justice for Children means rethinking justice journeys for both perpetrators and victims. Reforms can bring significant, people-centered change to individuals and societies. In 2015 the country of Georgia reformed its juvenile justice system with this very goal in mind, and as a result drastically decreased the reoffending rate.

In our latest Champions of Change interview, Pathfinders’ Maaike de Langen spoke with Zurab Sanikidze, Chairman of the Public Service Development Agency in Georgia’s Ministry of Justice. Read the interview here.

We learned how Georgia successfully shifted their focus from punishment to rehabilitation and prevention. The reforms have made an ineffective system effective, ultimately reducing the number of children in prison and greatly reducing reoffending rates at the same time.

Georgia’s actions for justice for children were also presented in an event at the UN on 4 December 2019, about what countries are doing to accelerate action for Justice for All. The Permanent Mission of Georgia organized the event, jointly with the Missions of the Republic of Korea, Argentina and Sierra Leone. Read more here.

12. Inequality and Violence

Igarapé Institute’s Robert Muggah, in collaboration with Sameh Wahba of the World Bank, recently published a piece making the case that reduction of inequality is “one of the most powerful ways to reduce violence” in cities. They outline four essential strategies for violence reduction, informed by research and best-practices, including a focus on hot-spots, environmental design and smart policing, strengthening community engagement, and providing access to jobs and life skills.

Read the piece here.

13. Justice for All: Back-Burner issue or Backbone of Sustainable Development?

While the world is putting out fires on the fronts of the climate emergency, global health crises, and violent conflicts, justice is sometimes forgotten or left on the backburner. But the world’s justice crisis is not only a global emergency, it is at the very heart of the world’s most pressing challenges. Indeed, creating a just society and providing justice for all is central to overcoming those challenges — it is the backbone of sustainable development.

Recently, the Pathfinders hosted a brown bag with Clare Manuel, Marcus Manuel, and Pilar Domingo of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), as well as Colleen Duggan and Adrian Di Giovanni of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC | CRDI). They outlined their research and the importance of funding justice projects that are locally minded, far-reaching, and support the achievement of broader development goals.

Read a new blog by Pathfinders’ Ariana Lippi, detailing highlights from the discussion.

14. New: World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2020

The World Justice Project presented its 2020 Rule of Law Index in virtual launch events last week. The Index includes original, independent data covering 128 countries and jurisdictions, drawn from national surveys of more than 130,000 households and 4,000 legal practitioners and experts.

The global trend that emerges is that more countries declined than improved in overall rule of law performance for a third year in a row, continuing a negative slide toward weakening and stagnating rule of law around the world.

Civil Justice showed the most positive movement over the previous year, with 47 countries improving versus 41 declining.

Download the report or explore the interactive data here.

15. 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. Global report 2019: Progress towards ending corporal punishment of children (Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children)
  2. Op-ed: It is time for action! Uniting for Africa’s transformation (featuring the African Women’s Leaders Network (AWLN) (UN Women)
  3. Dean’s message: Peace in Our Cities (Impact:Peace, Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego)
  4. Planning for the world after the coronavirus pandemic (World Politics Review)
  5. The best foreign policy puts women at the center (Foreign Affairs)
  6. A new briefing paper analyzing the state of gender relevance in armed violence datasets (Small Arms Survey)
  7. Reducing violence is not impossible and cities are proving this (Strong Cities Network)
  8. A gender approach to gun control discussions in Colombia (RazonPublica)
  9. As Coronavirus Deepens Inequality, Inequality Worsens Its Spread (NY Times)
  10. Feminist responses against austerity (Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung)
  11. What would a world without prisons look like? (NY Times)
  12. The friends helping people divorce without lawyers (BBC)
  13. Op-ed: To end AIDS, we must end inequality (UNAIDS)
  14. Time’s up for violence against women and girls (The Elders)
  15. We’re listening to: Girls Tales Podcast
  16. We’re listening to: EQUALS (The Inequality Podcast)