Week 9

SDG #16 – Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions


In this 11-minute video made available from the SDG Academy, Jeffery Sachs looks at lessons learned from Syria in achieving lasting peace, the underlying conditions needed for peace and how we can invest in peace.


Ensuring peace, justice and strong institutions are prerequisites to sustainable development[1]. In line with the integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda, SDG #16 has strong links to all Goals. In total, 36 of the 169 SDG targets directly measure an aspect of peace, inclusion, or access to justice, with only one third of these actually found in SDG #16.

Conflict, insecurity, weak institutions, and limited access to justice remain a great threat to sustainable development. The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018, the highest level recorded by the UN refugee agency in almost 70 years[2]. In 2019, the United Nations tracked 357 killings and 30 enforced disappearances of human rights defenders, journalists, and trade unionists in 47 countries2. The births of approximately one in four children under age 5 worldwide are never officially recorded, depriving them of a proof of legal identity crucial for the protection of their rights and for access to justice and social services2.

For Canada, democracy, inclusive and accountable governance, respect for diversity and human rights are core values shared by Canadians. While Canada is fundamentally a safe and peaceful country, threats and emergencies can arise in many different ways including through terrorism, organized crime, and natural disasters1. In Canada, there continue to be groups of people who experience discrimination, harassment, and violence. Historically excluded people and groups are significantly more likely to experience injustice1. Indigenous women and girls in Canada are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence from various factors including racism, sexism, the legacy of colonialism, and the devastation caused by the Indian Residential School system1.

Transparent and accountable institutions and organizations strengthen the fabric of society. Internationally, continued support is needed to establish and maintain peace and security, both for the safety of citizens and as a precondition for sustainable development.


Fast Facts

  • Among the institutions most affected by corruption are the judiciary and police;
  • Corruption, bribery, theft, and tax evasion cost some US $1.26 trillion for developing countries per year; this amount of money could be used to lift those who are living on less than $1.25 a day above US$1.90 for at least six years;
  • Birth registration has occurred for 73% of children under 5, but only 46% of Sub-Saharan Africa have had their births registered;
  • Approximately 28.5 million primary school age children and youth who are out of school live in conflict-affected areas;
  • The rule of law and development have a significant interrelation and are mutually reinforcing, making it essential for sustainable development at the national and international level;
  • The proportion of prisoners held in detention without sentencing has remained almost constant in the last decade, at 31% of all prisoners.

Violence against children

  • Every 7 minutes, somewhere in the world, a child is killed by violence;
  • 50% of the world’s children experience violence every year;
  • 1 in 10 children is sexually abused before the age of 18;
  • 9 in 10 children live in countries where corporal punishment is not fully prohibited, leaving 732 million children without legal protection;
  • 1 in 3 internet users worldwide is a child and 800 million of them use social media. Any child can become a victim of online violence;
  • Child online sexual abuse reports to have grown from 1 million in 2014 to 45 million in 2018;
  • 246 million children worldwide are affected by school-related violence each year;
  • 1 in 3 students has been bullied by their peers at school in the last month, and at least 1 in 10 children have experienced cyberbullying;
  • Violence against children affects more than 1 billion children around the world and costs societies up to US$ 7 trillion a year;
  • The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018, the highest level recorded by the UN refugee agency in almost 70 years;
  • In 2019, the United Nations tracked 357 killings and 30 enforced disappearances of human rights defenders, journalists, and trade unionists in 47 countries.

Why it Matters

Why should I care about peace, justice, and strong institutions?

Peace is essential to ensure a healthy and productive global population. In the absence of peace, it will be impossible to fully achieve the other SDGs.

Targets and Indicators for Canada

Below is Canada’s approach to measuring progress on SDG #16 – Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. Note the targets and indicators chosen[3].

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 Canadian Ambition: Canadians are safe and secure, in person and online Targets Indicators T16.1.1 No specific target I16.1.1 Proportion of Canadians who reported feeling safe walking alone in their neighborhood after dark Source: Statistics Canada. Custom tabulation T16.2.1 No specific target I16.2.1 Crime severity index Source: Statistics Canada. Table 35-10-0026-01 Crime severity index and weighted clearance rates, Canada, provinces, territories and Census Metropolitan Areas T16.3.1 No specific target I16.3.1 Incidence of selected types of crime Source: Statistics Canada. Table 35-10-0177-01 Incident-based crime statistics, by detailed violations, Canada, provinces, territories and Census Metropolitan Areas T16.4.1 No specific target I16.4.1 Incidence of cybercrime Source: Statistics Canada. Table 35-10-0001-01 Police-reported cybercrime, by cyber-related violation, Canada (selected police services); Statistics Canada. Table 22-10-0076-01 Types of cyber security incidents that impact enterprises by industry and size of enterprise Canadian Ambition: Canadians have equal access to justice1 Targets Indicators T16.5.1 No specific target I16.5.1 Criminal Court case completion time Sources: Statistics Canada. Table 35-10-0029-01 Adult criminal courts, cases by median elapsed time in days; Statistics Canada. Table 35-10-0040-01 Youth courts, cases by median elapsed time in days T16.6.1 No specific target I16.6.1 Incarceration rate Source: Statistics Canada. Table 35-10-0154-01 Average counts of adults in provincial and territorial correctional programs 1. Civil Justice is an important component of the Canadian Ambition, Equal access to justice as Canadians’ ability to access civil justice impacts their lives materially. Relevant civil justice data is currently being collected by Statistics Canada and will be released in 2022. Canadian Ambition: Canadians are supported by effective, accountable, and transparent institutions Target Indicator T16.7.1 No specific target I16.7.1 Proportion of the population with high levels of confidence in selected institutions Source: Statistics Canada. Custom tabulation

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Introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Copyright © by Jocelyn Baker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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