October 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. Visit our website: sdg16.plus and follow us on Twitter at: @SDG16Plus.

1. A message from the Director

(UN Photo / Rick Bajornas)

This year the United Nations turned 75. To mark the occasion amidst the ongoing global pandemic, Heads of State weren’t able to gather in Turtle Bay… Instead, for the first time in its history, UNGA went virtual.

Under the theme, “The Future We Want, the United Nations We Need: Reaffirming Our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism,” this year’s UNGA confirmed that we are in the midst of a historic moment of challenge and change. The pandemic has claimed over 1 million lives, is costing the global economy $375 billion a month, and 500 million jobs since the crisis erupted. Over the coming months it will get worse, hitting both the countries and vulnerable communities that are least able to cope, and creating major fractures in states that thought they were indestructible.

During UNGA, world leaders emphasized the multiple crises exposed by the pandemic: rising inequalities; widening societal divisions; rampant corruption; climate catastrophe; rising tensions and violence.

Overcoming these challenges requires approaches driven by unity, solidarity, and a deep commitment to building peaceful, just, and inclusive societies for all. We need solutions, services, and structures that address people’s needs. We need to mobilize patience and understanding but also innovation and persistence in our pursuit of reset and recovery. We need to rebuild trust between people and leaders. We need strong leadership inspired by evidence, empathy, and collective commitment to build stronger, more resilient societies in the wake of the pandemic.

We see people mobilizing for peace and solidarity all over the world. The UN75 Survey results are clear about people’s priorities for multilateralism, solidarity, and climate change investments. People across the globe are loudly demanding justice for all and action against racism. And Pathfinder country leaders at UNGA consistently underlined the need for violence prevention, for people-centered justice, for attention to women, peace and security, and for efforts to reduce inequalities and to commit to inclusion.

I see fear and despair every day on the streets of New York, but I also see hope, stubbornness, and a commitment to persevere. Yes, these are hard times, but it is in the darkest hours we must remain principled, patient, and clear-headed.

We at Pathfinders will continue to identify new alliances, evidence, and solutions as platforms for better times. The statement from the SDG16+ community is now endorsed by more than 120 organizations globally. A Pathfinder Statement on the need to give more attention to peace, justice, and inclusion will soon be launched. We are building traction on the movement to reduce violence and in our continuous efforts and campaigns for people-centered justice and increased inclusion.

Read are our main highlights from this year’s High-level Week: here.

2. Global Week for Justice

“The pandemic, its economic and financial impacts, and the socio-political dislocation that we are now witnessing, form the biggest challenge that justice systems around the world have ever faced. That is why justice leaders must come together.”

Next week is the Global Week for Justice, hosted by Justice Canada, in partnership with the OECD, the Open Government Partnership and Pathfinders.

Justice institutions are on the frontline of the public health emergency, asked to implement restrictions that aim to slow the spread of the disease and with a duty to protect women, children, and other people who find themselves increasingly at risk of violence and crime.

The economic crisis is creating soaring demand for justice, as people lose their jobs and houses, debts are spiralling, and businesses are unable to meet their contractual obligations. Bailouts and emergency public sector procurement programs create new risks of corruption and crime.

That is why the justice community is coming together around people-centered justice.

The week will be launched with a global dialogue of justice leaders, where ministers of justice of countries from all regions, including a number of Pathfinder countries, will come together to share how they have responded to the rise in justice problems and the increased demand for just societies.

The meeting will be chaired by Justice Canada and take place on Tuesday, 20 October at 8.30am Ottawa// 2.30pm Paris time. The event is open to all those who have registered.

Other events include:

  • Inaugural Meeting of the OGP Coalition on Justice
  • Round Table on Justice Data Priorities
  • Panel Discussion on Investing in Justice
  • Round Table on the Private Sector and Justice for All
  • Panel on Justice for Women and Girls amidst COVID-19
  • Webinar series on Access to Justice for Women

Join us to get some inspiration and energy and be part of the movement for people-centered justice!

For more information and registration: https://www.justice.sdg16.plus/globalweek

3. Pathfinders launches third “Grand Challenge” on Violence Reduction

On 21 September the Pathfinders launched the Movement to Halve Global Violence by 2030, which will unite a coalition of national and city governments, international agencies, NGOs, business, and philanthropic actors committed to ensuring a 50 percent reduction in violence in the coming decade. This is Pathfinders’ third ‘Grand Challenge’, building on the ongoing efforts on Justice and Inequality.

To mark the occasion, we teamed up with Peace One Day’s annual flagship event — this year fully virtual — which combined panels, interviews and live performances. Thought-provoking, energizing, and entertaining moments abounded during the 12-hour broadcast, which included messages from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, and WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus.

Particularly noteworthy for their spotlight on violence reduction were the panels ‘A Decade of Action for Peace’, with former president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Pathfinders Director Liv Tørres, Marina Ponti, Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign, and the Republic of Korea’s Minister of Gender Equality and Family, Lee Jung-ok, as well as ‘City-Game Changers’, with Costa Rica’s Minister of Peace and Justice, Fiorella Salazar and Clara Luz Flores, mayor of Escobedo (Mexico), among others.

More ground-breaking discussions occurred in the panel ‘Heroines for Peace’, which included sisters Iman and Ilwad Elman and SRSG on violence against children, Najat Maalla M’jid; and during the panel on ‘Education and Peace’, with Howard Taylor (Executive Director, End Violence Against Children), Kenyan activist Boniface Mwangi, and other experts.

Please watch and spread the Movement to Halve Global Violence’s video to join our efforts to slash global violence by 50% in the coming decade.

The celebrations on International Peace Day also marked the one year anniversary of the Peace in Our Cities initiative which today includes 16 cities from across the world and 22 partner organizations. It was also an opportunity to launch the Action Report which is a roadmap for the work of the Peace in Our Cities platform for the coming years.

4. Ensuring Universal Access to Covid-19 Health Technologies

During High-Level Week, Pathfinders was honored to co-host the event “The Challenge of a Lifetime: Ensuring Universal Access to Covid-19 Health Technologies,” in partnership with the Government of Costa Rica, WHO, and UNAIDS. Leaders came together to call for a fair and equitable approach to the development, production, and distribution of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants recognized that unless these tools are accessible to all and we ensure open knowledge exchange to develop the appropriate health tools, the world remains at risk, and that unequal responses to the pandemic will further fuel grievances that can turn health and economic hardship into political crises.

Participants discussed the vision and status of the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), a platform for open, collaborative sharing of knowledge, data and intellectual property on existing and new health tools to combat COVID-19. Speakers also encouraged Member States, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and other key stakeholders to support the call for a People’s Vaccine. The event featured interventions by H. E. President Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica, H.E. President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland, H.E Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia Retno Marsudi, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and UNAIDS Executive-Director Winnie Byanyima, among others.

A recording of the key messages from the event is available online.

5. Virtual gatherings showcase regional perspectives on justice for all

West Africa Virtual Legal Empowerment Summit

The Inaugural West Africa Virtual Legal Empowerment Summit held on October 5–9, brought together hundreds of justice actors to share experiences, innovative solutions, common challenges, and a myriad of good practices from legal empowerment projects throughout the region.

Pathfinders was proud to work in collaboration with a number of national and international actors in this endeavor including: The Legal Empowerment Network, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, The Carter Center, Open Government Partnership, National Coalition for Community Legal Empowerment (NaCCLE), Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative, and the Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI).

Former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf hailed the important work of paralegals and community advocates and called upon governments and civil society organizations across the region to strengthen partnerships to deliver on justice for All. Malick Sall, Senegal’s Minister of Justice, argued that West Africa, “must not give up its efforts to fight injustice even while we’re distracted by the pandemic.” Member of the Task Force on Justice and former Attorney-General and Minister for Legal Affairs of the Bahamas, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, argued that legal empowerment practitioners are vital for bringing remote and marginalized communities into the fold and play a crucial role in informing governments of the justice issues people are facing.

The summit culminated in a Call to Action from local, regional and international actors and resulted in a series of bold and transformative commitments that secure justice for all and uplift the region’s most marginalized and vulnerable populations. Musa F Dean, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Liberia, committed to continuing to use the Open Government Partnership (OGP) platform to advance citizen-centered justice reforms. “For too many people in the world,” he said, “government is seen as a distant, unresponsive and sometimes corrupt institution that doesn’t promote the interests of ordinary citizens.”

Live recordings of the Summit can be found here. A summary of the proceedings can be found here.

Asia-Pacific Justice for All Virtual Series

Tens of thousands of justice actors across the Asia-Pacific region gathered virtually for the first and second installment of the Asia-Pacific Justice for All Virtual Series. Pathfinders is proud to work in collaboration with the Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust (BLAST), the Open Government Partnership, and the Legal Empowerment Network in this endeavor.

The first session: “Adaptations and Collaboration: Grassroots Justice Work during the Pandemic” and the second session: “People-Centered Justice and Best Practices” called for stronger partnerships, innovative approaches and people-centered justice solutions across the region to address key justice problems experienced by marginalized communities during the pandemic. They emphasized the need to capture and analyze initiatives to ensure people-centric justice across the region, and to ensure knowledge sharing on how formal and informal justice systems have been accessed at the grassroots level.

The sessions highlighted speakers such as Hina Jilani, of The Elders, and co-chair of the Task Force on SDG16 and Justice and Sara Hossain, Member of the Pathfinders Task Force on Justice.

Please join us on October 28th for the final session of the series that will focus on “Resources and Partnerships.” Please see the following link to register for the event and for further details.

6. Spotlight on: SDG16+ Champions of Change

We’ve recently expanded our ongoing Champions of Change interview series to highlight more individuals, advocates, and organizations who are making an impact in their communities, and helping to create more peaceful, just and inclusive societies (SDG16+).

Our most recent SDG16+ Champions of Change include:

  • Najat Maalla M’jid, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children;
  • Ghida Anani, founder and director of ABAAD — Resource Center for Gender Equality in Lebanon;
  • Emmanuel Ametepey, Executive Director of Youth Advocates Ghana (YAG) and a Convener of the African Youth SDGs Summit ;
  • Justice Imman Ali, a judge in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh;
  • Nikole Nelson, Executive Director of Alaska Legal Services, which hosts the Partnering for Native Health program;
  • Kasha Nabagesera, a LGBTQI rights activist based in Uganda, and founder of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG);
  • Dr. Scilla Elworthy, founder of the Oxford Research Group, Peace Direct, and The Business Plan for Peace; and
  • Boniface Mwangi, an award-winning Kenyan photographer and founder of PAWA254.

7. In case you missed it…

A selection of new briefings, resources and commentaries from the Pathfinders and partners:

Plus 16 things we’re reading

  1. Initiative: “Factivism. Put a spotlight on what’s happening in the world right now and take action to help reach the Global Goals” (The Global Goals for Sustainable Development)
  2. Opinion: “Impact of COVID-19 on Women and Children” by Mary Robinson (IPS News)
  3. Report: “The local groups fighting violent extremism in the UK” (Open Democracy)
  4. Policy brief: “UN experts launch ground-breaking guidance on access to justice for people with disabilities” (OHCHR)
  5. Opinion: “Public security is more than ‘Law and Order’” by Enrique Roig and Guillermo Cespedes (Univision)
  6. Policy brief: “Rule of Law and COVID-19” (IDLO)
  7. Report: “Conviction, Imprisonment, and Lost Earnings: How Involvement with the Criminal Justice System Deepens Inequality” (Brennan Center for Justice)
  8. Opinion: “The Economic Case for a People’s Vaccine” by Sanjay G. Reddy and Arnab Acharya (Boston Review)
  9. Policy brief: “From Insight to Action: Gender Equality in the Wake of COVID-19” (UN Women)
  10. Analysis: “COVID-19 is increasing multiple kinds of inequality. Here’s what we can do about it” by Ian Goldin and Robert Muggah (World Economic Forum)
  11. Blog: “Violence can be prevented using dialogue backed by evidence” by Matodzi Amisi and Chandré Gould (ISSA Africa)
  12. Report: Silencing the guns in Africa by 2020 (Institute for Security Studies)
  13. Blog: “Pushed Out of Hospitals by COVID, Anti-Violence Programs Try to Adapt” (The Trace)
  14. Article: At Least 37 Million People Have Been Displaced by America’s War on Terror (NY Times)
  15. Analysis: “Locked out during the lockdown: an analysis of the UN system during COVID-19” (Reaching Critical Will)
  16. Blog: “Tracking The Trillions: 6-Month Checkup On IMF’s COVID-19 Emergency Aid” by Sarah Saadoun (HRW), M. Emilia Berazategui (TI), Simon Taylor (Global Witness) (Transparency International)