In New York on 9-19 July, the High-Level Political Form (HLPF) on Sustainable Development will take place at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York. The HLPF is the UN’s central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
This year, SDG16 (peaceful, just and inclusive societies) will be one of the six 2030 Agenda goals to undergo in-depth review, and 47 countries will present their progress. DCAF and Malaysia, in collaboration with Costa Rica, Kenya and Switzerland, will host an HLPF side event focusing on the contribution of independent oversight bodies of the security sector in realizing the SDG16 targets.
The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges the central role of effective, accountable and transparent institutions in contributing to peace, justice and violence prevention in the sustainable development context.
National security sectors that are both effective and accountable within a framework of democratic control, rule of law and respect for human rights are a core element of realizing the good governance ambitions of SDG16 and its related targets (Agenda 16+). Under SDG16, states are responsible for providing safety and justice for their populations. Central to that are the principles of good governance, meaning that states will need to ensure public and national security are provided in an effective, accountable and transparent way. These good governance targets are the focus in SDG 16.6. Additionally, SDG 16a calls to promote and protect human rights by receiving, investigating and rectifying grievances, while strengthening the good governance of peace and justice institutions.
Four years after the establishment of the 2030 Agenda, and almost one third through the SDG target period, the overall progress made presents a sobering picture. Few regions will meet all the SDGS, and no country is on track to achieve all 17 goals. Alarmingly, trends on human rights abuses, freedom of speech and corruption are worsening – including in several middle and high-income countries. Furthermore, the governance dimension of SDG16 remains undercast. Initiatives on SDG16 rarely espouse a governance focus and, to date, little guidance exists on how states can achieve SDG16 through good governance. Without adequate development of indicators and monitoring mechanisms, the inclusion of governance runs the risk of remaining purely rhetorical.
DCAF is addressing this problem in a novel project focused on oversight bodies and the governance dimension of SDG16. Raising the relevance of targets 16.6 and 16.7, which seek to strengthen good governance and accountability of public institutions, DCAF will explore how specifically ombuds institutions may act as catalysts for SDG16, establishing the linkage between oversight actors of the security sector and their contribution to good governance and accountability, within the context of SDG16. While undervalued in the 2030 Agenda, ombuds institutions play a critical role in preventing human rights abuses by receiving, investigating and rectifying grievances, while also strengthening the good governance of peace and justice institutions. Fair, accountable and transparent institutions are important levers for sustainable development and essential for a society free from want and fear – in that regard, ombuds institutions offer a promising pathway. While DCAF will focus this year on the role of independent oversight bodies in achieving peaceful, just and inclusive societies (SDG16), the focus will be on the role of parliaments in 2020 and on CSOs in 2021.
To learn more about ombuds institutions and their role in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, join DCAF at the side event on ‘Linking peace, justice and development through good governance: The role of independent oversight bodies in creating more peaceful and just societies’, in Room B, UN HQ, New York on 17 July 2019 from 13:15-14:30.
 Sustainable Development Report 2019, Bertelsmann Stiftung