Sustainable Development Goal 16

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Sustainable Development Goal 16 (Goal 16, SDG16 or SDG 16) – peace, justice and strong institutions – is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations in 2015. It "promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels".[1] The Goal has 12 targets to be achieved by 2030. Progress towards targets will be measured by 23 indicators.

SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions


The Sustainable Development Goals[edit]

The Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations. The broad goals are interrelated though each has its own targets to achieve. The total number of targets is 169. The SDGs cover a broad range of social and economic development issues. These include poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, Water supply, sanitation, energy, urbanization, environment and social justice.[2][3]

The SDGs replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which started a global effort in 2002 to end poverty, achieve universal education, empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat diseases such as HIV, ensure environment sustainability, and develop a global partnership for development.[4] The Outcome Document of the UN Summit on the 2030 Agenda, ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, includes an emphasis on the importance of achieving progress on peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice and rule of law, and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.[5]

An annual report is prepared by the Secretary-General of the United Nations evaluating the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.[6] SDG 16 is going to be reviewed at the High-Level Political Forum in 2019.[7]

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Major agreements and convention[edit]

Links with other SDGs[edit]

The Sustainable Development Goals are not taken as being completely independent one from the other, but rather as being closely linked. In this way, media development enhances freedom of speech, peace, but also contributes to sustainability, poverty eradication and human rights.[10] Fostering peace and inclusive societies can help reduce inequalities (SDG10) and help economies prosper (SDG8).[11] The 2012 outcome document of the United Nations Summit on the 2030 Agenda considers that sustainable development can not be achieved without building peaceful, just and inclusive societies and addressing issues of corruption, poor governance, insecurity and injustice.[5] Some SDGs can be considered as cross-cutting as a whole. It is the case for gender equality and Africa, which are considered a global priority for UNESCO and a "critical factor for the achievement of all internationally agreed development goals".[12]



The United Nations Development Programme is the United Nations global development network who is also concerned with SDG 16 as the Programme focuses on democratic governance and peace building.[13] The UNDP also works on conflict prevention by supporting empowering women and youth, and supporting regulatory frameworks and mechanisms and by acting as mediators.[14] UNDP has provided electoral assistance in over 50 countries.[15]


Since its creation in 1968, UNICRI has served the global community in formulating and implementing improved policies in the fields of crime prevention and justice. UNICRI enhances understanding of crime threats and identify practical measures to more effectively address them. To this end, the Institute assists governmental and non-governmental actors with the development of targeted strategies to address crime in a way that positively impacts on good governance, sustainable development, human rights and security by offering a range of evidence-based responses. UNICRI's mandate is to enhance knowledge and expertise and find innovative and sustainable solutions to threats and injustice. Our overarching objective is to assist the international community in achieving key goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in particular, Goal 16: to promote peaceful, just, inclusive and secure societies, free from crime and violence, where nobody is left behind. UNICRI develops tailored context-specific interventions based on concrete needs and citizen-centric approaches. UNICRI work focuses on: preventing and countering violent extremism; countering organized crime and fighting all forms of illegal trafficking and illicit financial flows; reinforcing the rule of law in post-conflict countries; security through research, technology and innovation; threat response and risk mitigation: security governance; preventing crime through the protection and empowerment of vulnerable groups.


UNESCO’s work on freedom of expression and the Safety of Journalists contributes to Goal 16. UNESCO's approach to media development tries to be knowledge-driven and context-sensitive. The Organization also wants to take into account the new challenges and opportunities of the media environment.[16] UNESCO's communication and information sector[17] is responsible for targets 16.3 (access to justice), 16.5 (anti-corruption and transparent and accountable institutions). It aims to: "foster intercultural dialogue, culture of peace and non-violence, and prevent violent extremism through global citizenship education; support free, independent and pluralistic media, ensure the safety of journalists; protect cultural and natural heritage, strengthen governance systems for culture and enhance fundamental freedoms."[18]

Preventing violent extremism[edit]

Preventing violent extremism is a way to promote, in official wording, a "culture of peace and non-violence" for UNESCO. The Organization aims to prevent violent extremism by using education as a tool to strengthen global citizenship, by mobilizing youth, women and other stakeholders – such as policy-makers, researchers and media actors – to take actions, online and offline, to prevent and respond to violent extremism and radicalization on the Internet[19] and to promote cultural diversity to foster more fair, inclusive and peaceful societies, through the #Unite4Heritage campaign[20] and Educational Programmes on Heritage and Creativity.[21][18]

Freedom of expression[edit]

Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or sanction.[22][23][24][25] UNESCO, as the United Nations agency with the specific mandate to promote "the free flow of ideas by word and image", supports a free, independent and pluralistic media in print, broadcast and on the Internet.[10] The Organization has projects that help building community media that involves the community in which the media develops as an alternative medium to public, commercial and social media.[26] It also promotes media and information literacy,[27] journalism education,[28] and professional journalistic standards and code of ethics.[29]

Freedom of information laws[edit]

UNESCO advocates for the creation of national legislation on freedom of information.[30]

Safety of journalists[edit]

Safety of journalists is the ability for journalists and media professionals to get, produce and share information without facing physical or moral threats. UNESCO's Freedom of Expression Section[10] and International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) develop projects to address issues of safety of journalism and impunity in the field. UNESCO also celebrates World Press Freedom Day every year on 3 May during which the Guillermo Cano Prize[31] is attributed to honor the work of an individual or an organization defending or promoting freedom of expression.[32]

IPDC's follow-up on SDG 16[edit]

The International Programme for the Development of Communication is responsible for the follow-up of the SDG 16 through indicators 16.10.1 and 16.10.2.[33] Every two years, a report containing information from the Member States on the status of judicial inquiries on each of the killings condemned by UNESCO is submitted to the IPDC Council by UNESCO's Director-General.[34] The journalists safety indicators are a tool developed by UNESCO which, according to UNESCO's website, aims on mapping the key features that can help assess safety of journalists, and help determine whether adequate follow-up is given to crimes committed against them.[35] The IPDC Talks also allow the Programme to raise awareness on the importance of access to information.[36] The IPDC is also the programme that monitors and reports on access to information laws around the world through the United Nations Secretary-General global report on follow-up to SDGs.


Justice Rapid Response[edit]

Justice Rapid Response is the only global facility that provides rapidly deployable experts in a wide range of highly specialized fields to assist with investigations in situations where war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, and serious human rights violations may have occurred.[37]


The international peacebuilding organisation Saferworld[38] have pioneered a localisation approach for SDG16+ – in an attempt to promote national ownership of commitments made under SDG16 and within the wider 2030 Agenda to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies.[39]

Transparency International[edit]

The anti-corruption non-governmental organization Transparency International monitors corruption in over a hundred countries and aims to "gives voice to the victims and witnesses of corruption" and "stop the abuse of power, bribery and secret deals". The Organization launched the Corruption Perceptions Index in 1995.[40]

Reporters without borders (RSF)[edit]

Reporters Without Borders is a French "independent" non-governmental organization with consultative status at the United Nations. The NGO promotes freedom of information and safety of journalists. RSF Advocates worldwide for international and national legislation on freedom of information and protection of journalists.[41] It has put together the 2018 World Press Freedom Index as a basis to analyze the state of freedom of expression.[42]

World Wide Web Foundation[edit]

The World Wide Web Foundation is an association that promotes digital equality, access to information, and the open web as a "public good and a basic right". It advocates for public policies in over a dozen countries.[43]


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  2. ^
  3. ^ "United Nations Official Document". United Nations.
  4. ^ "United Nations Millennium Development Goals". United Nations.
  5. ^ a b "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform". United Nations.
  6. ^ See the 2017 report:
  7. ^ "High-level Political Forum .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform". United Nations.
  8. ^ "Major Agreements & Conventions .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform". United Nations.
  9. ^ "Resources .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform". United Nations.
  10. ^ a b c "Fostering Freedom of Expression". UNESCO.
  11. ^ "Background of the Sustainable Development Goals". UNDP.
  12. ^
  13. ^ See official website:
  14. ^ "Conflict prevention – UNDP". UNDP.
  15. ^ "EC-UNDP Joint Task Force – Partnership on Electoral Assistance".
  16. ^ "Sustainable Development Goals for Communication and Information". UNESCO.
  17. ^ "Communication and Information – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". UNESCO.
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^
  20. ^ "#Unite4Heritage – Celebrating & Safeguarding Cultural Heritage – u4h".
  21. ^ "Protecting Our Heritage and Fostering Creativity". UNESCO.
  22. ^ Mill, John Stuart (1859). "Introductory". On Liberty (4th ed.). London: Longman, Roberts & Green (published 1869). para. 5. Society can and does execute its own mandates ... it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough...
  23. ^ Mill, John Stuart (1859). "Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion". On Liberty (4th ed.). London: Longman, Roberts & Green (published 1869). para. 19. In respect to all persons but those whose pecuniary circumstances make them independent of the good will of other people, opinion, on this subject, is as efficacious as law; men might as well be imprisoned, as excluded from the means of earning their bread.
  24. ^ Ten Cate, Irene M. (2010). "Speech, Truth, and Freedom: An Examination of John Stuart Mill's and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes's Free Speech Defenses". Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities. 22 (1). Article 2. [A] central argument for freedom of speech in On Liberty is that to maximize the benefits a society can gain ... it must permanently commit to restraining dominant groups from their natural inclination to demand conformity.
  25. ^ Wragg, Paul (2015). "Free Speech Rights at Work: Resolving the Differences between Practice and Liberal Principle" (PDF). Industrial Law Journal. Oxford University Press. 44 (1): 11. Comparison may be made between Mill's ‘tyrannical majority’ and the employer who dismisses an employee for expression that it dislikes on moral grounds. The protection of employer action in these circumstances evokes Mill's concern about state tolerance of coercive means to ensure conformity with orthodox moral viewpoints and so nullify unorthodox ones.
  26. ^ About community media:
  27. ^ On Media and Information Literacy:
  28. ^ About journalism education:
  29. ^ "Professional Journalistic Standards and Code of Ethics – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". UNESCO.
  30. ^ "United Nations Official Document". United Nations.
  31. ^ "UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize". UNESCO.
  32. ^ "World Press Freedom Day". UNESCO.
  33. ^ Division, United Nations Statistics. "SDG Indicators – SDG Indicators". United Nations.
  34. ^
  35. ^ For international-level indicators see: For national-level indicators see:
  36. ^ "About the IPDCtalks". UNESCO.
  37. ^ See official website:
  38. ^ See official website:
  39. ^ Putting SDG16+ into practice:
  40. ^ See official website:
  41. ^ "RSF". Bienvenue sur le site de Reporter sans frontières – Reports Without Borders.
  42. ^ "RSF Index 2018: Hatred of journalism threatens democracies". Reports Without Borders.
  43. ^ "About". World Wide Web Foundation.