UNGA CONFERENCE 2020 - Panel 2 - Implementing SDG #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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UNGA CONFERENCE 2020 - Panel 2 - Implementing SDG #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

UNGA CONFERENCE 2020
FIVE YEARS OF ACTION TOWARDS THE SDGS
Panel 2 – Implementing SDG #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Panel 2 Session undertakes a review of five years of action and the progress made in implementing SDG Goal #16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. Moderated by Ms. Paula Boland, speakers discussed children’s human rights and digital environments with global considerations, decline of democratic values and rise of autocracy globally, rise of violence against journalists and right to access information for strong institutions, and access to justice for transparency and accountability in governance.

Paula Boland is an attorney specializing in environmental law and international affairs and serves as the President of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area and the Chair of the UNA-USA National Council. Ms. Boland moderated Panel Session 2 that focused on Implementing SDG #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Through Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG #16, member states have committed to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and being effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. When the international community look back on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), governance emerged as a critical element in explaining the uneven progress across these goals in many countries. One of the lessons from the MDGs was that democratic governance, peace and security and the rule of law, including protection of human rights, are critical to sustainable development. A human rights approach helps identify who is vulnerable or being left behind and the ways in which those who are marginalized can be empowered to overcome their vulnerability.

The 2030 Agenda presents a shift, a significant shift and radical new approach to transforming our world, focusing on the integrated pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. It is universal, including issues such as inequality, access to justice, peace and security, and aims at leaving no one behind. Moreover, the SDG Agenda has an additional complexity in terms of its implementation and requires a mix of national ownership, flexibility, innovation, political acumen, high quality technical support and collective multi-stakeholder effort at all levels in order to become progressively a reality. Read more

Natalia Marcela Molina is a criminal judge and member of the International Association of Women Judges and Second Vice President of the Women Judges Association in Argentina. Ms. Molina spoke about children’s human rights and digital environments, global considerations. Her mission today is to inspire those who were thinking about being actively involved on campaigns that inform and promote the importance of children’s human rights.

Key points raised from her speech were as follows:

  • The consequence of the Covid19 pandemic, has made online education and communication to increase drastically. Children have been seriously threatened from the exposure to digital environment.
  • There has been a rise in the production and distribution of child sexual abuse content and online harassment. In most countries this is treated as serious crime, yet the abuse is growing.
  • The social media has been identified as the instigator of these crimes.
  • Once this image or videos are online, they automatically become a part of an enormous child sexual abuse network that not only exposes the pain of these victims to millions, but puts at risk, once again, their physical and psychic integrity.
  • Even in Latin America which is, at the moment, the most advanced region in the implementation of this new measures, we are still learning and facing challenges.
  • There is no doubt, this problem needs to be a part of the agenda for action in all countries. Those countries which have not implemented laws to ensure there is justice for victims and develop a long-term preventive measure.
  • Cyber-crime, organized or not, has no boundaries and expands fast. That is why we need a world that is united, with international collaboration and fluent communication on this topic.

All people are called upon to expose this cyber-crime on children by conscientizing communities we come from.

Michael Collins, Executive Director of the Americas of Institute for Economics and Peace, spoke about the Decline of Democratic Values and Rise of Autocracy Globally. Mr. Collins presented findings from a recent Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) Report, with regards to reducing violence in line with targets and indicators related to SDG #16. The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute. They dedicate their work to shifting the World to focus on peace as a positive, tangible and achievable measure of human well-being and progress. This is the 14th year of the Global Peace Index and it ranks 163 countries according to their relative state of peace. The definition of peace in the index is the “lack of violence or fear of violence.” 

And we track that using 23 different indicators. And the methodology for doing that is developed by IEP, but it is sort of overseen by an international panel of experts. The indicators are largely distributed in three domains namely:

  • Domestic and international conflict.
  • Measures of safety and security within society
  • The degree of militarization.

Some of the key findings for the 2020 are presented as follows. The countries in red are the least peaceful countries and those in green are the most peaceful. Overall, findings show the average level of peacefulness has deteriorated by 0.34 percent. It is the ninth deterioration in the last 12 years. 81 countries became more peaceful, 80 countries deteriorated and improvements were driven by the impact of terrorism, homicides by weapons imports and exports, and deteriorations by the political Tarasco refugees, 90 percent intensity of internal conflict. Read more…

Waqar Gillani, a senior journalist and special correspondent for the News on Sunday (Pakistan) spoke about the Rise of Violence Against Journalists and Right to Access Information for Strong Institutions. Gillani presented on the Rise of Violence against Journalists and Right to Access to Information for Strong Institutions in a country like Pakistan. The subject area touched on freedom of expression which is facing multiple challenges.

He said that Pakistan was trying to effectively pursue the targets and the sustainable development goals derived by the United Nations, especially SDD 16, targets and indicators. Pakistan, along with the civil society, helps build some institutions and make them last. And particularly in their sections for SDG 16.10, which is actually “access to information and press freedom” and respect to my subject. There are efforts to make more better laws for access to information and also some guidelines and policies for the safety and protection of journalists. But Target 16.10 of the SDGs specifically aims to promote access to information and freedom, by making laws and policies and strengthening institutions. Target 16.10 calls all to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.

Despite the efforts by many, Pakistan has not been able to reduce crime and violence against journalists as SDG 16.10 indicates. An effective legislator and the proper implementation of laws related to access to information is still required. There is need to create this supporting environment that helps the growth of independent media rather often one sided, a polarized approach. We cannot bring behavioral changes either in the state institutions or in the civil society without having a consensual and balanced approach towards SDGs, making institutions better policies and laws. There is need for the proper regulatory framework that helps in freedom of expression. Read more…

Dr. Shekh Mohammad Altafur Rahman is a human rights lawyer and faculty member of the School of Global Studies, Thammasat University, Thailand. Dr. Rahman spoke about the importance of Access to Justice for Transparency and Accountability in Governance. Dr. Rahman discussed the meaning and components of access to justice that is directly related to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #16. He explained that the SDG #16 and the access to justice component have a clear characteristic of overlapping feature, which cannot stand alone as an achievable component. In another words, there is a clear relationship between strong institutions and the notion of judicial system.

The second component is the meaning of access to justice that is not uniformed everywhere and has different kind of connotation for people in different parts of the world. For example, for a person in a hierarchical society, the notion of access to justice is very different than the person who is living in a free society. Similarly, the interpretation of access to justice is also used by dominant political forces in a country that works best in their own benefit, which is impacting the human rights conditions.

The indicator used to assess the access to justice is based on the SDG targets 16.3.1 and 16.3.2. SDG 16.3.1 is about the idea of political crime and crime repartition and the SDG 16.3.2 is about unsentenced detainee. There are minimum 135 indicators regarding the rule of law, however, SDG #16 includes only 2 out of 135 indicators to assess the access to justice in a country. Therefore, there is an enormous gap in reporting criminal prosecution and the detainee without understanding the entire state of access to justice. Read more…