New York, 19 September 2023 - In a new report today, the United Nations (UN) warned that little to no progress has been made to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) on peace, justice and strong institutions.
New data collected by UN Development Programme, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) demonstrate that countries are backsliding on their human rights obligations. Violence and insecurity have become pervasive in many parts of the world. Corruption and unresponsive governments have corroded social contracts, while justice remains elusive for many.
Without urgent, decisive action on Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16), the world will not be able to make progress on sustainable development overall, the report warns.
The aim of Sustainable Development Goal 16 (goal 16) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is 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”.
The inclusion of SDG 16 in the 2030 Agenda was innovative, a recognition that peace, justice, inclusion and development are deeply intertwined. They are essential for creating the basic conditions necessary to implement and achieve all other goals.
This year, for the first time, data is available on all Goal 16 indicators. Nevertheless, for some indicators the country coverage remains limited and more investment is needed to expand data availability.
The data that is available paints a stark picture, underscoring that the current pace of change is insufficient.
Violence has risen at an alarming pace. In 2022, data from 12 of the world’s deadliest conflicts show that nearly 17,000 civilians were killed in war operations – a shocking 53 per cent increase from 2021. Intentional homicide also peaked in 2021.
Meanwhile, the share of children detected as victims of human trafficking rose from 28 per cent in 2014 to 35 per cent in 2021.
Justice remains inaccessible to many, with less than half the population reporting crimes like robbery and physical or sexual assault. In 2021, the share of unsentenced detainees remained at around 30% of the global prison population.
Corruption remains pervasive, particularly among low-and middle-income countries, affecting individuals and businesses.
The data further illustrate that the glass ceiling remains a reality for many, with women under-presented in senior levels of decision-making in public service roles, including in Supreme and Constitutional Courts.
Human rights defenders and journalists are facing more dangerous and deadly conditions, with a 40 per cent increase in killings and nearly 300 per cent increase in enforced disappearances in 2022 compared to 2021.
Finally, one in six people worldwide have experienced discrimination over the past 12 months, including one in three persons with disabilities.
“Peace and prosperity for people and the planet – the promise the international community made when adopting the SDGs – will only be possible with decisive and innovative action on SDG 16,” stated Ghada Waly, Executive Director of UNODC.
“We must take action now to strengthen the rule of law, make justice accessible to all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions around the world. I encourage the international community to use this report to develop practical solutions to create a peaceful, just, and inclusive global society.”