September 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: and follow us on Twitter at: @SDG16Plus.

1. A message from the Director

(UN Photo / Mark Garten)

75 years ago the United Nations was established amid the ashes of World War II. 51 countries promised the world they were committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights. That promise is still relevant 75 years on and in need of delivery, perhaps more than ever before.

Despite the fact that experts have listed pandemics as a highly probable risk for years, when COVID-19 hit, it took the world by surprise. Few were prepared. By now, almost a million people have died and the pandemic is far from over. More people will die. The after-shocks of economic and political instability will last for years to come, and will leave a lasting imprint on the fabric of societies and institutions. In June, the World Bank forecasted a 5.2 percent contraction of global GDP in 2020. This is the deepest recession we have faced in decades, and one that may grow more serious due to delays in domestic and global mitigation measures. The downturns are expected to reverse years of progress toward development goals and estimates show that, when compared with pre-crisis forecasts, COVID-19 could push close to 200 million more people into extreme poverty. The crisis is felt all over the world and most deeply among those who were already struggling or who had just managed to fight themselves out of poverty. Simultaneously, we know that the risk of unrest and conflicts is increasing, stemming from this economic shock and its effects on trade, supply chains, remittances, and migration, which are all still unfolding; from challenges to ongoing mediation and peace processes, and postponements of elections; from increasing food insecurity and broader geopolitical tensions.

“Today’s real borders are not between nations, but between powerful and powerless, free and fettered, privileged and humiliated. Today, no walls can separate humanitarian or human rights crises in one part of the world from national security crises in another.”

Those were Kofi Annan’s words as he received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the United Nations in 2001. He continued: “Scientists tell us that the world of nature is so small and interdependent that a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon rainforest can generate a violent storm on the other side of the earth. This principle is known as the “Butterfly Effect”.” We have certainly felt the “butterfly effect” over the past few months. So, now 75 years on, representatives of “we the peoples” will meet again to carve out the first steps of the next 75 years — and they have a big responsibility on their shoulders.

As Kofi Annan said in his Nobel lecture almost 20 years ago: “The lesson of the past century has been that where the dignity of the individual has been trampled or threatened — where citizens have not enjoyed the basic right to choose their government, or the right to change it regularly — conflict has too often followed, with innocent civilians paying the price, in lives cut short and communities destroyed.” Previous Secretary-Generals knew it before him, as did those who followed. Representatives of people from every corner of the world have learned the same lesson. We know the implications and risks posed by this crisis. We know what tools are needed to address it. And we know the magnitude of the responsibility of leaders in this crisis. So, now we wait to see how those leaders will act during this UNGA High-level Week.

UNGA75 is the most significant test of the promise our leaders made 75 years ago and the platform for the next 75 years to come. At CIC and Pathfinders, we will follow it closely and look forward to a busy month of events and conversations.

2. Peace One Day and the Movement to Halve Global Violence by 2030

This International Peace Day, the world is talking. From Kinshasa to New York, these voices will only get louder as we launch the ambition to achieve the most significant reduction in violence in history. On Monday 21st September, we start the countdown for a Decade of Peace with Peace One Day Live Global Digital Experience 2020 — a live-streamed, high-level celebration where we will announce plans for the Pathfinders’ third Grand Challenge: the Movement to Halve Global Violence by 2030.

Millions of people — including world leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists — are expected to affirm that the goal to halve violence worldwide by 2030 is attainable. The event will showcase new knowledge, promote solutions, and serve as a fueling station for government leaders, influencers, and advocates working to achieve a more peaceful world for all.

Notable speakers include Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, an Elder and the 24th President of Liberia; Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO; and H.E. Lee Jung-ok, Minister of Gender Equality and Family from the Republic of Korea. Music and words of peace will be performed by global artists such as Jude Law, Basement Jaxx, Annie Lennox, and Cat Stevens.

To date, 36 national governments, 16 cities and over 100 businesses, NGOs and champions have already committed to halving global violence by 2030. Together we will:

  • Build a powerful coalition of the willing in 2020;
  • Pursue the best data-driven and evidence-based strategies in 2021;
  • Provide targeted support to countries and cities throughout 2022;
  • Track all intended and unintended impacts as part of the SDG Summit in 2023, closing in on global hotspots and cities;
  • Build a Roadmap to 2030 in a leadership conference in 2024.

Watch our video to learn more about the Movement to Halve Global Violence.

Join us to celebrate Peace One Day by:

We look forward to seeing you online — and hearing you raise your voice for peace — on the 21st!

3. Act Now for SDG16+

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing humanity’s resilience to the extreme. 60 million people may be pushed into extreme poverty this year, deepening injustice, inequality, and violence around the world. In response, leading SDG16+ partners issued a joint statement during the HLPF calling for urgent action from all leaders to urgently make SDG16+ the foundation for reset and recovery efforts. The statement identifies a clear set of achievable policy actions required to reduce all forms of violence, drive people-centered justice for all, and build a more equal and inclusive society by 2030.

As part of the Decade of Action and Recovery and the UN’s 75th Anniversary, the Pathfinders, joined by over 60 organizations, are inviting all partners to add their voice to this call for action. If your organization wants to support the statement and feature their logo, please complete this google form. For further details, please email

4. Pathfinders and CIC at UNGA75

(UN Photo / Manuel Elias)
  • On Wednesday, September 23, CIC’s Sarah Cliffe will participate in two events — a panel on COVID-19 and Education organized by the Qatari mission to the UN from 8:30–9:30 EDT, and the International Crisis Group’s panel Spotlight on COVID-19 and Conflict: The Intersection between Health, the Economy and Peace & Security, at 11.00 AM EDT.
  • On Thursday, September 24, CIC will co-sponsor a High-level Event — COVID-19 and How Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Can Help to Build and Sustain Social Cohesion and Peace — organized by the Netherlands mission to the UN. Sarah Cliffe will serve as moderator, and Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag will participate. The event will be live streamed from 10:00–11:15 AM EDT.
  • On Friday, September 25, CIC and the Pathfinders will cosponsor an event on Ensuring Universal Access to COVID-19 Health Technologies with Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada. The event, from 10:00–12:00 AM EDT, will highlight the C-TAP (COVID 19 — Technology Access Pool) initiative housed in the World Health Organization.
  • Pathfinder countries are also discussing a declaration and event during UNGA to lift the awareness and importance of peace, justice and inclusion in COVID-19 response and recovery planning.

More details on our upcoming activities and on a wide range of SDG16+-related events will be available on the Pathfinders website soon!

5. Beyond UNGA75: Upcoming Events

The Inaugural “West Africa Legal Empowerment Summit: Community Paralegals Advancing Access to Justice for the Poor amid COVID19” is a week-long summit organized by ISA WALI Empowerment Initiative, Justice & Empowerment Initiatives, The Legal Empowerment Network, The Carter Center, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, National Coalition for Community Legal Empowerment (NaCCLE), Open Government Partnership and the Pathfinders.

The Summit will take place from October 5–9, 2020 and seeks to bring together justice leaders, actors, and organizations that support paralegals from across West Africa to begin a regional conversation on legal empowerment and how together we can better face common challenges and realize our collective aspirations in making access to justice a reality for all.

Stay tuned for more information on how to register!

Coming up later this month, the Pathfinders, Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust (BLAST), Legal Empowerment Network, and the Open Government Partnership are hosting the upcoming Asia-Pacific Justice for All Webinar Series. The first session in the series will take place during the Asia Pro Bono Conference on the 26th of September, followed by two other webinars on October the 14th and October the 28th.

This virtual series will gather legal professionals from both the formal and informal sector across the Asia and Pacific regions. Participants will share experiences, solutions and challenges, as well as broaden the conversation to explore legal empowerment from a regional perspective. Particular attention will be paid to how formal and informal institutions can address the needs of marginalized communities.

Register for this series here.

6. Looking back: A virtual meeting of the Advisory Council of the Grand Challenge on Inequality and Exclusion

The Advisory Council of the Grand Challenge of Inequality and Exclusion came together at virtual meetings held over two days to exchange perspectives on the successes, lessons learned and challenges of addressing inequality and exclusion in the context of COVID-19. The discussions identified promising avenues for collective international action, domestic implementation efforts, as well as areas for useful further study.

Participants included Ministers from Ethiopia, Indonesia, Tunisia, Sweden, Sierra Leone, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, as well as representatives from the World Bank, the IMF, Oxfam, ECLAC, ESCWA, and UNAIDS, among others.

Over the past year the Advisory Council, which has provided ongoing guidance on research and recommendations produced by the Grand Challenge, has highlighted opportunities for engagement and mobilization in the fight against inequality and exclusion. The Council’s first meeting took place in Mexico City in October, 2019. The two recently held sessions explored new evidence informing policy solutions in the areas of the future of work and inclusive urban development. Council Members also took the opportunity to brainstorm and coordinate international collective action on issues of immediate importance, such as equality of access to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.

7. Looking back: ‘Investing in Justice for All to Prevent Conflict & Violence’ at the World Bank Fragility Forum

On August 25, the Pathfinders, in partnership with the g7+ hosted a lively discussion on “Investing in Justice for All to Prevent Conflict & Violence” at the 2020 Virtual World Bank Fragility Forum. Participants discussed challenges to accessing justice in the pandemic and the issue’s important connection to preventing conflict and violence.

High-level speakers included:

  • H.E. Musa F. Dean, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Liberia
  • H.E. Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, MFA
  • Mr. Ferid Belhaj, VP MENA Region, World Bank Group
  • Moderator: Liv Tørres, Director, Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies

Watch the full event:

8. Welcoming a new member of the team

We are pleased to introduce a new member of the Pathfinders team!

Daniel Mack joined the Pathfinders as Program Lead on violence reduction in August. He has fifteen years of experience working on issues of armed violence reduction and international arms control. For the past five years as an independent consultant, Daniel provided research, policy or strategic advice for several United Nations agencies (UNIDIR, UNLIREC, UNODA, UNODC) and international NGOs, including Save the Children Norway, Small Arms Survey, Control Arms, Conectas Direitos Humanos (Brazil), PAX (Netherlands), and Asociación para Políticas Públicas (Argentina). Previously, Daniel worked at the NGO Instituto Sou da Paz in São Paulo, Brazil, spearheading its policy and advocacy arms control efforts both at the national level and at global fora, and was co-chair of the Control Arms civil society coalition that pushed for the UN Arms Trade Treaty.

Plus 16 things we’re reading

  1. Justice Champions of Change series: “The Bangladeshi judge who protected people in the justice system from COVID-19” (Pathfinders’ Blog)
  2. “How COVID-19 will hasten innovation in social protection” (By Paul von Chamier in Pathfinders’ Blog)
  3. “Five lessons on confronting violence and systemic discrimination in policing in the Global South” (A guest blog by the Governance & Justice Program, IDRC Canada in Pathfinders’ Blog)
  4. Opinion: “Redirect military budgets to tackle climate change and pandemics: Governments should stop spending billions of dollars on weapons and protect citizens from the real threats they face.” (By Denise Garcia in Nature)
  5. Analysis: Demonstrations & Political Violence in America — New data for Summer 2020 (ACLED)
  6. Briefing: “The missing link: Access to justice and community security in Somalia” (Saferworld)
  7. “Switching Ministers and Crossing Canyons” (By HiiL’s Sam Muller in Global Dashboard)
  8. Opinion: “Disdain for the Less Educated Is the Last Acceptable Prejudice” (NY Times)
  9. Analysis: Aid’s urban footprint and its implications for local inequality and governance (Journal: Environment and Planning: Economy and Space)
  10. “Coronavirus: Local leaders in a global crisis” (Politico)
  11. “From the ground up: It’s about time for local humanitarian action” (ODI)
  12. “The Pandemic that Changed the World”: A three-part podcast by Ian Goldin (BBC)
  13. Republic of Korea launches a the Korean New Deal
  14. “Why Democracy Matters for Development in Africa” (By Graeme Young in Democracy in Africa)
  15. “Climate Apartheid Is the Coming Police Violence Crisis” (By Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò in Dissent Magazine)
  16. “UNGA 75: Key Issues to Watch” (By Kaysie Brown, UN Foundation)