October 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 sdg16.plus website.

1. Our new Pathfinders’ Director

Liv Tørres will take up the baton as director of the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies starting January 1, 2020. Liv has served as executive director of the Nobel Peace Center since 2016.

In addition to her four years at the helm of the Nobel Peace Center, Liv previously served as secretary-general of Norwegian People’s Aid. In that role, she managed 2,500 staff working worldwide to bring humanitarian assistance to some 40 countries, and a sense of hope and justice to the most marginalized communities in war-torn areas. She is also a well-known analyst on peace, justice, equality, and inclusion, and the many research programs she has led have played a central role in helping to build the evidence base for accelerated action on these targets for the sustainable development goals.

“I’m excited to take up this opportunity,” said Liv. “The Pathfinders have been paving the way for new thinking around policy development and the link between knowledge production, policy, and delivery. I am keen to take that forward with the amazing Pathfinders team. Having worked in academia, politics, the humanitarian sector, and peacebuilding, I am acutely aware of the critical need to inform policy development and supply decision-makers with facts and rigorous knowledge in order to move the world in the right direction.”

David Steven, who has led the Pathfinders initiative since its inception in 2016, will remain a senior advisor.

2. Decade of Action and the Path Ahead

Priscilla Schwartz, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Sierra Leone

As part of the Global Goals Week — an annual week of action for the SDGs — we hosted a reception celebrating commitments to accelerate action for SDG16+ from pathfinder countries and other partners.

The event demonstrated political support for SDG16+ and amplified the call for a Decade of Action on SDG16. It spotlighted partnerships, initiatives, and actions as part of a global mobilization for SDG16+.

Speakers included representatives from the governments of Switzerland, Sierra Leone, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Timor-Leste, and Mexico. We also had support from our partners at OECD, Clifford Chance, and Open Government Partnership, along with Ms. Alaa Murabit, an SDG Advocate, Ms. Miatta Mulbah, Director of Leemah, and Ms. Jhody Polk, Founder of the Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Hub.

At the SDG Summit, the Secretary-General issued “a global call for a decade of action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

Over the next year, the Pathfinders will help convene a global conversation on closing the gap on SDG16+ as part of the UN’s 75th anniversary celebration. We will work with partners from all sectors to identify further opportunities to accelerate action on SDG16+.

These actions will be presented at the Secretary-General’s first annual platform for driving the Decade of Action, which will be held at the UN’s 75th anniversary summit in September 2020. The SDG16+ community will then work together to demonstrate measurable results by the second SDG Summit in 2023.

Read a review of the Pathfinders’ work at the SDG summit here, and our three-part blog series on reflections on SDG16+ at the SDG Summit, as well as lessons for the future.

3. Inequality Advisory Group meeting in Mexico

On September 30, in Mexico City, the first meeting of the Advisory Group of the Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion took place. The Advisory Group is chaired by the Government of Sweden, with other countries and prominent individuals cosponsoring and participating as members.

Minister Martha Delgado of Mexico, State Secretary Annika Soder of Sweden, and CIC Director Sarah Cliffe opened the meeting, with Sweden, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Uruguay, a number of Mexico government officials, and the World Bank, OECD, ITUC, OSF, Civicus, Oxfam, Transparency International and other civil society actors, actively contributing to discussions.

The Advisory Group heard presentations from a number of politically relevant sites of research, including stories of successful spatial inclusion in Latin America; the development of tools to assist policymakers to address service disparities in cities; research related to the future of work, including new ways to broaden access to rights over productive assets; successful grassroots efforts to build political common ground; the latest regional efforts to tackle corruption; and a broad range of progressive taxation measures.

The Advisory Group offered feedback on the findings and solutions of the work of the Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion, provided advice on the political and technical feasibility of policies, and offered guidance on next steps. Closing out the meeting, ECLAC’s Alicia Barcena lauded the valuable work of the Grand Challenge, which represented a novel and necessary new way to address and reverse inequality and exclusion.

(Photo: CEPAL)

4. Call to Action

More than 30 countries — one fifth of the UN’s membership — endorsed our Call to Action on SDG16+ during the HLPF and the SDG Summit. Together, they make a loud collective voice to accelerate action on implementation of SDG16+ targets for peaceful, just and inclusive societies. The call will remain open throughout preparations for the Decade of Action and Delivery on SDGs, and we welcome new member state support. Please contact us if you are interested in supporting the call.

5. Acceleration Actions

With the SDG Summit in our rearview mirror, how far did we come on the road to achieving access to justice for all? One measure is the number of acceleration actions — voluntary commitments by governments and other partners — registered on the UN SDG Summit Registry.

Currently, the Registry shows SDG16 as having more acceleration actions than any other goal, bar SDG17. At the time of writing, 56 actions are registered for SDG16. Almost half relate to increasing access to justice. The majority of these are connected to the Task Force on Justice — as either the direct result of Task Force engagement or Task Force members and partners modeling leadership. These registered actions should be applauded, while recognizing there is much more to be done.

As we look to the road ahead, justice for all is still in the distance. There is an urgent need to speed up action that puts justice at the heart of sustainable development and people at the center of justice systems. Similar to the experiences of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Paris Agreement on Climate, an increasing number of countries and organizations are speaking up for justice, helping to build a groundswell of support for action. Progress on the way forward will pivot on these efforts.

6. The SDG Butterfly Wings

Partnering with the UN SDG Action Campaign, the Pathfinders supported the launch of the SDG16 wings at the Decade of Action Reception, as part of the SDG Butterfly Effect Campaign.

Using Augmented Reality, the campaign invites people round the world to take action on the SDGs by making a specific commitment. Through earning their wings, individuals show leaders at all levels that they stand by the 2030 Agenda, starting a global butterfly effect that inspires others to act and transform the world.

Dr. Alaa Murabit officially launched the SDG16 wing, highlighting her personal commitment to accelerating action as an SDG advocate. She stressed the urgency of using the SDG Summit for governments and partners from all sectors to make ambitious, but concrete, commitments to accelerating action.

Two activists also shared their own personal stories on their commitment to action on SDG16+. Miatta Mulbah, founder of Leemah, a Liberian NGO, spoke of the importance of protecting teenage girls from harmful practices that endanger their health or their future. Jhody Polk, a Soros Justice Fellow, shared her inspiration to work for the legal empowerment of incarcerated people, as founder of the Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative and the Legal Empowerment & Advocacy Hub in Florida.

The campaign will run until September 2020 as part of the SG’s call for a Decade of Delivery.

7. The private sector and SDG16+

The call for a decade of action, issued at the SDG Summit, requires all actors to come together in a global and sustained effort to realize the SDGs by 2030. The private sector has an indispensable role to play and new opportunities exist to galvanize the business community to increase ambition and accelerate action on SDG16+.

During the SDG Summit, two events sought to bring the private sector on board for SDG16+

Building on this growing interest among the business community, Global Citizen and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies will host a meeting on the Global Movement to Close the Justice Gap in New York on October 22. Participants from the private sector, foundations, justice partners and UN member states will discuss upcoming opportunities to build a wider movement for justice and develop a strategy plan for global campaigning for justice for all.

8. Busan Democracy Forum and SDG16+

The Busan Democracy Forum held by KOICA and Busan Metropolitan city on October 14–16, brought together leading international and local partners engaged on global citizen education (SDG 4.7) and peace and justice (SDG16) to share best practices and explore ways to strengthen partnerships in the lead up to the UN’s 75th anniversary next year.

President of KOICA, Ms. Lee Mi-kyung, opened the Forum sharing “during the HLPF in July, I realized how important it is to protect peace and justice, which is threatened every day. Korea has been at war for decades, and we as a country recognize the impetus of peace and affirm the possibility of achieving peace and justice on this land by working with all partners, from the community to the global levels.”

During the workshop, the Pathfinders presented SDG16+ as a guiding organizing framework that brings together different interest groups and communities to collectively advocate and accelerate further action on peace, justice, and inclusion across the 2030 Agenda. Participants also attended the first official commutation ceremony of the Busan-Masan people’s democratic uprising in 1979.

9. Launch of the 16+ Forum Annual Showcase

The Annual Showcase of 16+ Forum will take place on November 11–14 in Dili, Timor-Leste. This global event brings together SDG16+ policymakers, practitioners, and thought leaders committed to showcasing what it takes to deliver peaceful, justice and inclusive societies. The 16+ Forum is a partnership of member states, the g7+, and the World Federation of United Nations Associations.

  • The plenary session on “People-Centered Justice: Making the System Work for All” will include the Timor-Leste launch of the Justice for All Report.
  • The Rule of Law Collaborative of the University of South Carolina will moderate a panel on national experiences, connecting actors in the justice sector, bringing together experiences from the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, and Papua New Guinea.
  • The Pathfinders will convene a panel on tested approaches for increasing access to justice, featuring change makers from Indonesia and Pakistan, combined with insights from the Open Government Partnership.
  • Both panels will provide a platform for decision makers and practitioners to share their views on what it takes to realize justice for all.

10. 17 Rooms and SDG16

Rajiv J. Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation

Ahead of the SDG Summit, the Rockefeller Foundation and Brookings Institution ran their second flagship event on accelerating implementation of the SDGs. 17 Rooms brought together thought leaders for each SDG to explore game-changers in 2019 and 2020 that will significantly increase the chances of successful implementation in 2030.

The format is simple. A room for each goal. A dozen or so thought leaders in each room. And a chance for cross-fertilization between the rooms/goals.

Each room addresses the following questions:

  • What are the game-changers in 2019/2020 that would significantly increase the chances of the success of the room’s SDG by 2030?
  • How can the room’s SDG unlock progress for those working on other goals?
  • And what data, finance, advocacy etc. are needed to underpin success?

Pathfinders’ Director, David Steven hosted the SDG16 room, which mapped out a strategy for responding to closing political space and tackling the fatalism that blocks effective implementation. This will feed into our work with partners as we gear up for the Decade of Action on the SDGs.

11. The 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

(Photo: UNICEF)

November 20 marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child:

  • “Thirty years ago, the Convention recognised children as their own beings entitled to non-negotiable rights. Nearly all governments — to the exclusion of one — have pledged to respect, protect and promote those rights.”
  • Through the treaty, governments commit to take “all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.”
  • This commitment is matched by the SDG target to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.”

The next year offers many opportunities to accelerate action to end violence against children:

  • We continue to support the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, as its pathfinder countries implement the seven INSPIRE strategies.
  • Campaigns — such as Safe to Learn — demonstrate the powerful links between SDG16.2 and the other promises that the 2030 Agenda makes to the world’s children.
  • Next Spring will also see the launch of the second Global Status Report on Violence Prevention — a landmark publication from WHO, which will focus exclusively on children.
  • And following the SDG Action Platform in September, the second Solutions Summit will be towards the end of 2020, offering an opportunity to make ambitious action to end violence against children central to the Decade of Action.

12. Justice Champions of Change

Justice Champions of Change are people from around the world who have shown that change is possible when we put people at the heart of justice. Champions of Change that we interviewed recently are:

  • Mark Beer, the change maker who orchestrated sweeping justice system reforms in Dubai. He oversaw a transformation of justice delivery that improved quality and efficiency, by radically focusing on what users need and experience during the process. Read the interview here.
  • Arre Zuurmond, the ombudsman who moved into the neighborhood to solve people’s justice problems. For years, the city’s residents had complained to the ombudsman about noise, crime, and the excesses of tourism. For years, the municipality had done little to address these problems. So the ombudsman took a different approach. Read the interview here.

Catch up on all the previous interviews here:

The Justice Champions of Change interview series is produced by NYU-CIC as part of its work to support the Pathfinders’ Task Force on Justice.

13. Customary and informal justice providers accelerating achievement of SDG16+.

Last week, Pathfinders’ David Steven moderated a panel at Uganda House on Customary and informal justice providers accelerating achievement of SDG16+. The event was organized by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), Cordaid, Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, and was co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Canada and the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations.

A lively discussion from panelists of both scholars and practitioners focused on the importance of engaging with customary actors, whom the majority of individuals turn to in order to solve justice problems. Rather than an “either/or” paradigm, panelists stressed the need to engage and learn from these justice providers while also sharing strategies on how to approach the risks involved, including the critical importance of maintaining and respecting human rights, reflecting on recent reports and field experiences.

“Everyday justice providers are in communities working to understand and solve justice problems,” said David Steven in response to numerous in-country examples shared, including that of mobile legal clinics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and work done in Somalia. Canada’s Special Adviser for Indigenous Issues at the UN, Lea Nicholas-MacKenzie, highlighted the ability of customary and informal justice systems to resolve justice problems of an increasing number of people through the example of community courts in indigenous areas that are being used by both indigenous and non-indigenous communities.

To read more:

14. Peace in Our Cities

On September 21, 2019 — International Peace Day — we launched the ambitious campaign to reduce urban violence in cities across the world, together with 5 partners and 11 mayors and local leaders.

Read more here about the Peace in Our Cities campaign, and what to expect from the work of the exploratory action committee in the coming 12 months as we share city strategies, evidence, and political pathways for reducing urban violence globally.

15. A Regional Agenda on Inequality and Exclusion: The Case of Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean is known as the world’s most unequal region, and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has worked tirelessly to demonstrate the inefficiency of inequality, the experience of exclusion as a form of violence by citizens, and the need to promote the social and economic inclusion of all Latin Americans.

During the first meeting of the Advisory Council for the Pathfinders Grand Challenge of Inequality and Exclusion, which took place on September 30 in Mexico City, the Latin American experience offered insight into the complexity of the issues being discussed, but also demonstrated growing political commitment to act towards reversing the trends of inequality and exclusion in the region and beyond.

Read our blog post on the Latin American regional agenda to combat inequality and exclusion

16. Upcoming Events

Pathfinders will be at:

  • The Stanley Foundation’s 60th Strategy for Peace Conference: taking part in the discussions on making the case for peace in cities and halving urban violence by 2030.
  • UNGA First Committee: on the sidelines hosting a meeting with key stakeholders to consult on Gender Equality Network for Small Arms Control (GENSAC), and efforts to to accelerate action at the intersection of SDG5 and SDG16+ through harness ing women’s leadership on small arms control for conflict prevention and development.
  • Geneva Peace Week: hosting a panel on Ending Urban Violence to Build Urban Peace, featuring famed Harvard Professor Thomas Abt, in conversation with Rachel Locke from Impact:Peace at the University of San Diego and Angela Me from UNODC.
  • Save-the-date for the upcoming series of SDG16+ community convening calls in the lead up to the Decade of Action and Delivery and the UN’s 75th Anniversary celebrations. The first of The Countdown Call will take place on November 6, at 9:30am ET.

Plus 16 things we’re reading

  1. Peace in Our Cities campaign partners at Impact:Peace, University of San Diego, just published Kroc Insight on the campaign
  2. Harvard Professor Thomas Abt (our panelist at the Pathfinders’ Geneva Peace Week event on urban violence) and his new book ‘Bleeding Out’ on NPR
  3. Read the new report from ICNC on Preventing Mass Atrocities
  4. Legal aid as important for economy as hospitals and schools, say IBA and World Bank
  5. Mercy Corps’ Good Governance: Preventing Conflict and Building Peace
  6. Reporting on SDG16 in Egypt
  7. Governance as an SDG Accelerator from the OECD
  8. How violent extremist groups profit from the trafficking of girls, from The Hill
  9. How does gender relate to arms control? Watch this useful UNIDIR video
  10. Policy paper on creating political space for fiscal compromise, contributing the Challenge Paper for the Grand Challenge on Inequality
  11. And a Q&A with NYU CIC’s Paul von Chamier about the paper — and the reasons democratic countries choose to pursue or avoid more progressive tax systems.
  12. The challenge of inclusive social development as analyzed during ECLAC’s Third Regional Conference on Sustainable Development
  13. Coverage of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed
  14. Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer win the Nobel Economics Prize for their work in reducing poverty
  15. A reflection of inequality in the United States and how it is affecting today’s political battles
  16. Listen to a review of Milli Lake’s book on NGOs and gender justice in Congo and South Africa