October 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 sdg16.plus website.


1. A farewell message from Liv Tørres

“As I approach the end of my time as Director of the Pathfinders, it is also time for reflection. Reflection on the state of the world, on the health of multilateral collaboration, on challenges for peace, justice, and inclusion, and not the least, on what we have achieved over the last couple of years…”

Read a farewell message from our director, Liv Tørres, here.

2. Pathfinders at UNGA 76

Launch of the Halving Global Violence Taskforce at Peace Day Live 2021

During Peace Day Live 2021 on September 21, Pathfinders officially launched the Task Force for its Halving Global Violence initiative. Task Force Co-Chair, Minister Lindiwe Zulu (Ministry of Social Development of South Africa), and Task Force member, Ilona Szabó (Igarapé Institute), participated in Peace Day Live and presented the Task Force’s agenda and aims.

The 12-hour Peace Day Live event gathered world leaders, global celebrities, and experts to discuss the importance of building peace and reducing violence and presented ways in which the public can take action to build more peaceful and sustainable societies, while reducing violence.

Halving Global Violence Task Force Statement

On Peace Day, a group of Halving Global Violence Task Force Co-Chairs and Members also issued a statement urging renewed attention, and urgency, to violence reduction efforts. The statement concluded noting, “Now is the time for decisive action. The still elusive ‘post-pandemic’ period offers a tipping point and window of political opportunity to shift narratives and adapt multilateral solutions towards complex global problems… we call on the international community to join us, echoing the urgent need to reduce global violence levels and helping translate the audacity of our mission into reality.”

The statement also welcomed the UN Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda, and its suggestion for the New Peace Agenda, which gave a nod to our efforts by noting that one of the ways to “address violence holistically” is by “building on the movement to halve global violence by 2030.” Moreover, the SG’s call to put women and girls at the center of security policy further reinforces the mandate of our GENSAC initiative. We look forward to contributing ideas for OCA’s implementation and working with the UN system and Member States to deliver on its promise of peaceful societies.

Two years of Peace in Our Cities

21 September also marked the two year anniversary of the Peace in Our Cities initiative. Peace in Our Cities, which now boasts over 20 cities and two dozen partners united in a platform for knowledge exchange and policy support for urban violence reduction — marked the occasion with a new publication on the achievements of its first two years and a video presenting the initiative to a wider audience.

Delivering the UN Common Agenda: Action to Achieve Equality and Inclusion

Seven Presidents and Prime Ministers — representing Costa Rica, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sweden, New Zealand, Ireland and Bangladesh — alongside regional leaders, experts including Nobel Prize Laureate Prof Joseph Stiglitz, and Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, joined us on 23 September to discuss how we can build a more inclusive and equal world. The event, co-hosted with the Leaders Network, marked the launch of our Flagship report, From rhetoric to action: Delivering equality and inclusion.

We have a heard a lot of world leaders utter the words “build back better” — but what does that look like? The 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:

  1. Create visible material change: Adopting policies that directly impact people’s daily lives for the better, such as on housing, social protection, and minimum wages.
  2. Build solidarity: Tackle societal divisions alongside economic recovery using strong community-based programs, truth-telling and social dialogue tools
  3. Secure credibility: Secure trust and credibility by addressing corruption, state capture by elites and global corporations, and — with the help of the international community — ensuring sufficient financing for social programs.

Speakers at the report launch spoke about the need to prioritize global vaccine distribution. The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Winne Byanyima, told us that the cost of *not* vaccinating everyone was 33 times the cost of vaccinating everyone. None of us are safe until we are all safe.

Watch the event here.

From left to right: Ridgway White (Charles Stewart Mott Foundation), Atieno Odhiambo (Legal Empowerment Fund — The Fund for Global Human Rights), and Vivek Maru (Namati).

New Legal Empowerment Fund Launched at Global Citizen Live

The Pathfinders proudly partnered with Global Citizen Live on 25 September to launch a new initiative to support people-centered justice through legal empowerment. Namati, The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation collectively committed $20 million as seed funding to launch the Legal Empowerment Fund and jump-start its 10-year effort to raise $100 million for the people-centered justice movement.

Pathfinders at the General Debate 76

During this year’s UNGA, Pathfinder member states reiterated their ambition and commitment to driving action on peace, justice, and inclusion. Read a roundup of major SDG16+ commitments and actions announced throughout the General Debate, here.

3. Our Common Agenda

(Shutterstock.com / Alexandros Michailidis)

On Friday, 10 September, UN Secretary-General António Guterres presented Our Common Agenda, his response to the request for recommendations, made by UN member states in the 75th anniversary declaration adopted in 2020. The SG does not mince his words about the problems the world is facing, from the pandemic that is upending our world, conflicts that continue to rage and worsen, and the disastrous effects of a changing climate — famine, floods, fires and extreme heat — that threaten our very existence.

If ever there was a need for global collective action, it is now. Rather than dwell on geopolitical tensions, decades of international failure in Afghanistan, or the weakening of multilateral institutions, Our Common Agenda focuses instead on what we need to accomplish together and the urgency of getting to work. The most important UN policy document this year, the report is set to shape the SG’s second term and — hopefully — make the United Nations more effective and relevant to people’s lives.

In this quick scan the teams at NYU’s Center on International Cooperation and Pathfinders share their initial observations and impressions on how Our Common Agenda links to ongoing and planned efforts on peace, justice, inclusion, preventing humanitarian crises and supporting peacebuilding and multilateralism.

4. Leveraging data to address asymmetries in Access to Justice

People-centered justice data is critical for transformation. It will act as a catalyst in repairing the social contract and restoring trust by informing strategies and priorities for intervention.

At the Knowledge Platform Security Rule of Law’s Annual Conference on the 14 October, Pathfinders for Justice, together with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), curated a virtual panel discussion entitled, “Leveraging data to address asymmetries in Access to Justice,” featuring perspectives from South Africa, Sierra Leone, and Colombia.

Marriet Schuurman, Director of Stabilisation and Humanitarian Aid at the Dutch MFA highlighted the potential people-centered justice data has to address asymmetric power while reiterating the Netherlands’ commitment to the Justice Action Coalition in the keynote address.

Other key takeaways included: As numbers don’t always paint the full picture, panelists highlighted, it is necessary to incorporate qualitative approaches, as well. In doing so, different ways of collecting quantitative and qualitative data can complement each other. It is also useful for countries to report to the UN on their progress towards providing access to justice for all because this drives progress at the national level. Finally, national justice needs surveys need to incorporate the people-centered approach to ensure the amplification of people’s justice needs and the alignment of any interventions to those needs.

5. The past, present, and future of violence

More than 140 participants attended the inaugural Andrew Mack Dialogue on Peace and Security, hosted by Pathfinders, with support from Igarapé Institute, Simon Fraser University, SIPRI and GReVD, last month. The event––celebrating the life of Andrew Mack, a leading peace researcher, advocate, and dedicated student of violence––featured an in-depth discussion between Steven Pinker (Harvard University), Rachel Kleinfeld (Carnegie Endowment), Clionadh Raleigh (ACLED), Dan Smith (SIPRI), Gary Milante (SIPRI) and Robert Muggah (Igarapé/SecDev).

The speakers underlined the many ways the world is better off today than any time in the last century, and discussed the ways in which the world continues to feel dangerous and unstable — in light of the heightened risks for violence due to COVID-19 and new technologies. There was also general agreement that now more than ever, it is critical to show where and how violence has been meaningfully reduced and demonstrate how halving violence by 2030 is feasible.

We are currently in the process of designing a series of future Andrew Mack dialogues with partners, which will engage leading, diverse voices in global violence reduction, and assist us in setting a baseline for a potential future global violence monitoring mechanism.

6. We’re hiring!

Program Associate, Justice for All
Pathfinders is seeking a Researcher (Program Associate) for the Pathfinders for Justice program. This role will work closely with the Pathfinders team and CIC staff. It is a unique opportunity to be part of a global policy research initiative with the potential for meaningful impact in people’s lives.

Learn more about this exciting position and apply: here.

7. Upcoming Events

Join us for these upcoming Pathfinders events:

  • Geneva Peace Week: “Addressing gender inequality in arms exports control and its impact on peacebuilding: challenges and opportunities” – Join the Gender Equality Network for Small Arms Control (GENSAC) at Geneva Peace Week on 2 November, 10:30AM — 12:00PM (ET), for a discussion between practitioners from Latin America, Africa and the Western Balkans exploring the importance and challenges of, as well as lessons learned from gender mainstreaming in arms export control. Register here.
  • Geneva Peace Week: “Peace in Our Cities in a Time of Pandemic — Leveraging Technology for Peace” – Join Peace in Our Cities on 3 November at 9:30AM — 11:00AM (ET), for an online workshop on harnessing the digital sphere for peace. Register here.
  • “We have come together because we believe that an alternative vision of justice, where no one is left behind, is possible.”Chair’s statement, Global Week for Justice, October 2020.

    With trust in institutions decreasing and economic outlooks uncertain, societal tensions are on the rise. Wherever there are conflicts and disputes, justice actors have a role to play. If they put people at the center and make government more open and accessible, they can reestablish trust and pave the way for recovery.

    That is why the global justice leaders must come together once again.

    The second Global Week for Justice will be hosted by the Ministry of Justice, Latvia, in partnership with the OECD, the Open Government Partnership and the Pathfinders in the first week of December 2021. More details on dates and agenda will soon be available at https://www.justice.sdg16.plus/globalweek2021.

8. 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. Briefing: Peace in Our Cities: Two Year Review (Peace in Our Cities)
  2. Discussion Paper: Access to Justice for Vulnerable Groups in Times of Covid-19 — Palestine (ILAC)
  3. Opinion: Give the People the Law, by Vivek Maru (Democracy Journal)
  4. Report: DRC’s Growing Political Disengagement (Congo Research Group, NYU CIC)
  5. Opinion: The battle to save women on Death Row is part of the fight against gendered violence, by Sabrina Mahtani (gal — dem)
  6. Research: Community-based paralegals to build just societies: insights from a legal empowerment project in Pakistan, by Abdur Rehman Cheema & Mehvish Riaz (Community Development Journal)
  7. Opinion: Reinvigorating Multilateralism, by Carlos Alvadaro Quesada, Jacinda Ardern, Setfan Löfven, Cyril Ramaphosa, Macky Sall, and Pedro Sánchez (Project Syndicate)
  8. Report: The State of the Social Service Workforce 2020 (Global Social Service Workforce Alliance)
  9. News: Pandora Papers show how tax havens are part of the global inequity problem (NPR)
  10. News: Hello? This Is Colombia’s Antimachismo Hotline. (NY Times)
  11. Report: 2021 Women Peace and Security Index (GIWPS)
  12. Analysis: Climate Change Poses a Widening Threat to National Security (NY Times)
  13. Analysis: There’s No Such Thing as a Dangerous Neighborhood by Setphen Lurie (Bloomberg CityLab)
  14. Analysis: The problems with Chicago’s gang-centric narrative of gun violence by Lakeidra Chavis (Injustice Watch)
  15. Speech: Human rights and solidarity are at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals — Mary Robinson (The Elders)
  16. Opinion: Leaving no one behind? Development finance and the need for community support by Erin Kitchell (Namati) & Sam Szoke-Burke (Columbia