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

Author:Attree, Larry
Position:Sustainable development goals of the United Nations General Assembly

The global debate on what development framework will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is nearing its conclusion. After two years of discussions, the post-2015 development agenda is currently being negotiated at the United Nations Headquarters and will be formally adopted at a high-level summit in September 2015.

Debates on the post-2015 agenda so far have consistently agreed that the new development framework must advance not only sustainability and poverty reduction, but also, crucially, peaceful societies, justice and good governance. The Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has agreed on an outcome document, (1) which includes SDG 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies, the African Union has included peace and security as one of the key pillars in its Common African Position (CAP) on the post-2015 Development Agenda (2) and the Secretary-General of the United Nations recently reaffirmed the importance of the peace agenda in his Synthesis Report, (3)

Although the majority of States have backed an agenda for sustainable peace, the inclusion and framing of SDG 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies remains sensitive for some Member States. Attaining genuine political buy-in to the peace agenda among these States will therefore be key to adopting, implementing and monitoring an effective post-2015 framework over the next 15 years.


We cannot achieve poverty eradication and sustainable development without tackling conflict and insecurity: there is a large and increasing gap in MDG performance between States affected by high levels of violence and other developing countries. (4) Strikingly, all of the seven countries unlikely to meet a single MDG by the end of 2015 have been affected by high levels of violence in recent years. (5)

However, violence and insecurity are universal issues affecting people's well-being in all nations, not just conflict-affected ones: (6) For example, in Brazil, the homicide rate is one of the highest in the world (7) with 56,000 people violently killed in 2012; (8) in South Africa, the murder rate from 2014 was around five times higher than the 2013 global average; (9) and in the United States of America, the number of homicides in 2013 was 4.9 per 100,000 (compared to the average homicide rate of below 0.8 per 100,000 in developed countries). (10) It is often those in the most marginalized sectors of society who are affected by violence. For many of the poorest countries in the world, it is impossible to reduce poverty significantly and achieve economic growth as long as violence and insecurity prevail--by 2030, 75 per cent of people in extreme poverty will be living in countries at risk from high levels of violence. (11)

Peace, justice and effective governance are increasingly seen by people as not only...

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