High levels of armed conflict and insecurity have a destructive impact on a country’s development, effecting economic growth and often resulting in long standing grievances. While some regions have fall into seemingly endless cycles of violence and conflict, other are enjoying sustained level of peace, security and prosperity. By no means, the first should be left behind.

At the core of the 2030 Agenda lies a clear understanding that human rights, peace and security, and development are deeply interlinked and mutually reinforcing. Through its entirety, the importance of enhancing access to justice, ensuring safety and security, and promoting human rights for sustainable development are reflected, while Sustainable Development Goal 16 marks the intersection between sustaining peace and the 2030 Agenda.

During the past years, many parties within the United Nations have progressively described how the rule of law and human rights are imperative to achieving and sustaining peace, as well as to realizing the vision now set forth in the Sustainable Development Goals.

As described in the 2016 UNDP Annual Report on The Rule of Law and Human Rights, Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) – for peaceful, just, and inclusive societies – ushers in a new kind of development: one where people could influence the decisions that affect their lives and create communities that thrive. SDG 16 articulates the key role that governance and the rule of law play in promoting peaceful, just, and inclusive societies and in ensuring sustainable development.

The threats of international homicide, violence against children, human trafficking and sexual violence are important to address to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development. They pave the way for the provision of access to justice for all and for building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.

While homicide and trafficking cases have seen significant progress over the past decade, there are still thousands of people at greater risk of intentional murder within Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and around Asia. Children’s rights violations through aggression and sexual violence continue to plague many countries around the world, especially as under-reporting and lack of data aggravate the problem.

To tackle these challenges and build a more peaceful, inclusive societies, there needs to be more efficient and transparent regulations put in place and comprehensive, realistic government budgets. One of the first steps towards protecting individual rights is the implementation of worldwide birth registration and the creation of more independent national human rights institutions around the world.

Goal 16 aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Goal 16 Targets

  • Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere.
  • End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.
  • Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.
  • By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organised crime.
  • Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms.
  • Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels.
  • Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.
  • Broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance.
  • By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration.
  • Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.
  • Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.
  • Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development.
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