SDG16+ — June 2018


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, of course, read the Roadmap for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies.

1. Pathfinders in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone convenes the Pathfinders with Brazil and Switzerland. In Freetown this month, the new government, led by President Julius Maada Bio, underlined its ‘relentless commitment’ to leading on SDG16+ — both at home and internationally.

  • Dr Alie Kabbah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation told a workshop for government departments that a fourth post-war election underscores Sierra Leone’s progress towards a hard-won peace and stability.
  • “A more just and equal society is the only assurance to avoid another war and reoccurrence of political instability.”

Other speakers at the workshop included the Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and the Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Participants began to explore priorities for SDG16+ implementation and commitments the government could make at the High-level Political Forum in 2019.

2. Sierra Leone’s New Direction

The government was elected based on a promise to deliver “inclusive politics, inclusive economic growth, inclusive development and inclusive governance.” In his speech at the State Opening of Parliament, President Bio placed a strong focus on justice, human rights, and national cohesion.

  • A national dialogue on justice and a new sector plan will bring justice to people through a cadre of trained paralegals and a strengthened Legal Aid Programme for vulnerable citizens.
  • Corruption is a threat to national security. It will be tackled through reform of the Anti-Corruption Commission and Audit Service Sierra Leone, and a new National Public Sector Transparency and Accountability Initiative.
  • National cohesion is a priority, with an independent commission planned to confront “tribalism, divisiveness, exclusion and the weakening and subversion of state governing institutions.”
  • Violence against women and children will be tackled with a focus on sexual violence, early and forced marriage, child trafficking, and child labor.

3. Sierra Leone’s Civil Society and SDG16+

During the Pathfinders visit, 35 civil society representatives came from across Sierra Leone to explore the role civil society plays in SDG16+ implementation.

  • Civil society is actively engaged in demystifying justice and making justice services more user-friendly. It will develop a coordinated input into the government’s new sector plan and wants increased public financing for the justice system.
  • The election has surfaced grievances and division, which must be addressed if the government is to build a more inclusive society. Greater accountability is needed from international and national actors.
  • Civil society recognizes that the government has made commitments at the international policy level but has not been successful in translating them into change on the ground. The new development plan must be more strategic and implementable.

The meeting concluded with an agreement to form a working group to coordinate inputs into the justice sector plan and the national development plan.

Ibrahim Tommy, Executive Director of Coalition for Accountability and Rule of Law and John Caulker, Executive Director from Fambul Tok will spearhead this effort.

4. An Inclusive Dialogue

Sierra Leone was on the agenda at the FriEnt Peacebuilding Forum in Berlin, in a panel moderated by Mark Mattner who leads the GIZ’s program on peace and security, with David Steven presenting findings from the Pathfinders’ mission.

  • The International Dialogue on Peace and Statebuilding is sponsoring a country dialogue as the new Ministry of Finance and Economic Development begins work on a national development plan for 2019 onwards. This will build on the New Deal Fragility Assessment of 2016.
  • Speakers included Lucy Brewah from the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (recently split from the Ministry of Finance) and Valnora Edwin from the Campaign for Good Governance.
  • A key challenge emerged from the debate: how to move from a ‘winner-takes-all’ system, where elections lead to stark swings in political power, to a model that promotes social, economic and political inclusion.

5. A New Movement for Prevention?

Image: Twitter / @elsa_benhoefer

The FriEnt plenary explored the potential for a new movement that will bring together the many communities working to prevent different forms of violence.

  • On the panel, Graeme Simpson, lead author of the UN study on youth, peace and security, and Emma Leslie, Executive Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in Cambodia.
  • The study celebrates: “extraordinary young people creatively seeking ways to prevent violence and consolidate peace across the globe, in devastated and conflict-affected societies as well as in those enjoying relative peace.”
  • SDG16.1 promises to significantly reduce all forms of violence everywhere. In June, the Pathfinders will begin to work with partners to explore how this target can drive evidence-based prevention strategies in the 2020s.

6. High-Level Group on Justice for Women — Off To a Strong Start

The High-Level Group on Justice for Women will place women and girls at the heart of the agenda of the Task Force on Justice. The group is off to a strong start after its first meeting in The Hague, with IDLO and UN Women bringing together an impressive group of justice leaders.

  • Opening the meeting: Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, and Chair of the Task force on Justice; Irene Khan, Director-General of IDLO; and Phumzile Mlambo, Director-General of UN Women.
  • Justice Ministers from Argentina, Canada, and the Gambia were joined by senior representatives from the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, international organizations, civil society and academia.
  • Ms. Sandie Okoro, Senior Vice-President and General Counsel for the World Bank Group: “Women’s Access to Justice is not just for women, it is good for all. If we get justice for women right, it will be better for everyone”.

Read the group’s terms of reference and expect a hard-hitting report at next year’s Commission on the Status of Women.

7. We’re Sitting on a Goldmine

“Now that justice has rightly earned its place at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, it is time to look beyond the ‘why’ and focus on the ‘how’,” writes Maaike de Langen, head of research for the Task Force on Justice, in a new blog.

  • Three strategies to answer the ‘how’ question: understand legal needs, empower people and solve their legal problems, and learn from people’s experiences as they navigate justice systems.
  • Individual cases are a neglected resource that help us map justice journeys and identify the systemic shifts that allow injustices to be tackled at scale: “Even the most basic hand-written register — such as the carefully maintained log that I encountered years ago at a legal clinic in Bamako — offers rich insights into justice in people’s lives.”
  • When you start solving legal problems, you start gathering information — we’re sitting on goldmine of knowledge that can help us deliver justice for all. “Unlike in other sectors, such as health, the justice sector lacks a culture of turning evidence into action. We need to get better at organizing and analyzing information from individual cases and turning this evidence into proposals and actions for structural legal change.”

Read the whole article.

8. Law at the Crossroads

From 7–10 June, over 2,500 academics gathered in Toronto, Canada, for the Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association.

  • Maaike de Langen, Head of Research for the Justice Task Force, presented a paper at the conference and immersed herself in the world of socio-legal research.
  • Canadian Supreme Court Justice, Rosalie Silberman Abella opened the Conference with a passionate plea for innovation: “I cannot for the life of me, understand why we still resolve civil disputes the same way we did 100 years ago! We need fundamental experimentation and reform.”
  • An Innovation Working Group, convened by HiiL, will soon start deepening the case for innovation, exploring both prevention of and response to the most urgent justice needs. This takes forward a recommendation from the 2017 justice leaders dialogue.

9. OECD Policy Roundtable on Equal Access to Justice

The OECD Equal Access to Justice Policy Roundtable will be organized in collaboration with the Task Force on Justice and hosted by the Government of Latvia, on 5–6 July in Riga.

  • The ministerial roundtable will explore new approaches to investing in access to justice for all.
  • An expert workshop will take forward the work on estimating the justice gap and making the case for investment in justice — two key elements of the Task Force’s terms of reference.

10. Pluralism in a Paradoxical World

As part of its commitment to social, economic and political inclusion, the Pathfinders co-hosted a seminar in May with the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa:

  • The Centre: “created to advance positive responses to the challenge of living peacefully and productively together in diverse societies.” (Read its paper on pluralism and the SDGs).
  • We live in a paradoxical age: more democracy, but less political stability; greater prosperity, but growing economic insecurity; peace in most countries, but people feeling unsafe and scared of ‘others’.
  • Speakers from the government explored Canada’s experience of diversity — both its successes and failures. At the Human Rights Council, it joined with 82 countries in a statement which described diversity as an indisputable fact, but inclusion as “a conscious choice to respect diversity and maximize its economic, social, cultural, civil and political benefits, both locally and globally.”
  • A Pluralism Index could help countries understand the importance of inclusion to sustainable development.

A report from the seminar will soon be available — and we plan a second workshop in New York in the fall.

11. Investing in Women

Inclusion was also on the agenda at the ECOSOC special meeting on implementing the SDGs through civil participation and engagement. This built on a preparatory meeting in Prague (see April newsletter) and a series of breakfasts (covered in March).

In a panel we moderated, impact investor and social entrepreneur, Nathalie Molina Niño spoke about her investment in businesses that benefit women:

  • The problem is scale — “you see beautiful things being done all round the world, but to the tune of a $10 million fund, a $20 million fund.” The challenge is to find businesses that can change the lives of millions and millions of women as customers and workers.
  • Women need sustained support — the classic venture capital model looks for rapid returns, but expects most investments to fail. “But we’re in the business of building societies, not in the business of banking on 90% of failure of anything… Women don’t bounce back from bankruptcy, women don’t have trust funds to fall back on when their companies fail.”

12. The Road to the HLPF 2019

Read our challenge paper on how we can maximize the potential of the High-level Political Forum in 2019:

  • In July 2019, SDG16 will be reviewed at ministerial level, while leaders will conduct the first four-yearly review of all 17 SDGs in September.
  • The High-level Political Forums are an opportunity to showcase success and solutions in implementing SDG16+ and to make commitments to demonstrate results by the end of a second four-year cycle in 2023.
  • To seize this opportunity, a ‘guiding coalition’ of champions for SDG16+ should unite behind four objectives: demonstrate progress and results; mobilize actions to accelerate implementation; build the movement for peaceful, just and inclusive societies; and consolidate links to all 17 SDGs.
  • This challenge paper proposes actions for each of these objectives, with reactions invited from all stakeholders.
  • Priorities include maximizing the number of countries with strong reporting on SDG16+, launching a registry of voluntary national commitments, developing an advocacy and communications strategy that draws on the strengths of multiple partners, and working closely with partners from other sectors as they prepare for 2019. The option of a ‘commitments conference’ in 2020 is also suggested.
  • A full plan will be developed at a meeting this month. The plan will then be the subject of an inclusive consultation.

13. Launching

The new Pathfinders website is now live. Let us know what you think!

14. Strengthening the Pathfinders Secretariat

Harshani Dharmadasa has joined the NYU Center on International Cooperation and will be at the forefront of supporting the Pathfinders platform:

  • Harshani specializes in justice and human rights, working with the UN Special Rapporteur for Health, the Open Society Justice Initiative, the UN Democracy Fund and UN Women.
  • She joins from BRAC USA, where she worked with governments to design programs that make it easier for people to graduate from poverty.

15. For your diaries in the next month

20 June — The Global Focal Point: Taking Stock and Looking Forward, part of the UNDP Rule of Law Annual Meeting, New York

21 June — Achieving Access to Justice for All through the SDGs, part of the UNDP Rule of Law Annual Meeting, New York

22 June — The Path to HLPF 2019 retreat meeting, a Pathfinders, Global Alliance and 16+ Forum event, New York

5–6 July — Equal Access to Justice: OECD Policy Roundtable in collaboration with the Task Force on Justice, Riga, Latvia

9–18 July — High-level Political Forum 2018, New York

10 July — “Transforming Security Sector Governance for Safe and Resilient Cities”, a Side Event for the High Level Political Forum 2018 Review of SDG 11, co-hosted by Colombia, Guatemala, Slovakia, Switzerland, UN Women, and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), New York

16 July — Pathfinders, Global Alliance, and 16+ Forum HLPF side event, New York — details coming soon

16 July — 16+ Forum Mid-Year Expo, New York

17–19 July — Open Government Summit 2018, Tbilisi, Georgia

16. SDG16+ round up

  • Somalia’s Minister of Women and Human Rights on the country’s prevention priorities: her Ministry sees the next election and the ongoing constitutional review as windows of opportunity which it will seize “by enabling diverse groups of women to develop joint demands and strategies to make their voices heard”.
  • Income inequality has increased in nearly all world regions in recent decades, but at different speeds.
  • Research that is for the people and with the people.
  • Meeting expectations for justice in The Gambia.
  • Highlighting the links between SDG8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG16.
  • Linking SDG16 to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
  • Collecting data on illicit arms flows (SDG16.4).

Plus 16 things we’re reading

V-Dem Institute Annual Democracy Report 2018 ▪ Global Peace Operations Review ▪ All sessions from the Bernstein Institute Conference on human rights and access to justice ▪ OGP and EITI collaboration ▪ Netherlands Report on progress on the SDGs ▪ United Smart Cities opens its first Smart City Lab ▪ Large datasets and resilience ▪ OGP year in review ▪ SDGs Data Dashboard ▪ World Bank’s Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2018 ▪ Women’s land rights around the world ▪ Front Line Defenders Award ▪ Stopping violence like it’s a virus ▪ Malawi launches public reporting system for online child abuse ▪ Apply for the Tomorrow’s Peacebuilder Prize ▪ Child marriage is costingEthiopia billions of dollars