Legal systems provide the framework for countries to implement the Global Goals in the 2030 Agenda. In particular, strong institutions and the rule of law should protect the rights of citizens and serve as the foundation for inclusive and equitable sustainable development. Building the capacity for countries to contribute to the 2030 Agenda requires peace, security, and enrolling stakeholders from all sectors of society—local and international policymakers, civil activists, academics, and those working in the private sector.
Goal 16 calls on countries to end violent conflict, instability, crime, corruption, and human rights violations. The targets include:
- Reduce deaths from homicide and armed conflict worldwide.
- End abuse, trafficking, and all forms of violence against children.
- Promote transparent, inclusive, and accountable legal systems at all levels.
- Stop bribery and corruption.
- Provide legal standing and protection under the law for all citizens and residents.
The stories in this collection illustrate solutions aimed at strengthening institutions, providing equal access to justice, and increasing representation for all. In South Carolina, Milan Polk writes, students filed a lawsuit to remove barriers to voter registration in the states where they attend school. The students are part of a new wave of voters coming of age and eliminating barriers to exercise their rights. Protection under the law is an important aspect of inclusivity. Read on to learn about the actions lawmakers and the Pennsylvania Domestic Worker Alliance are taking to ensure that domestic laborers are no longer left out of the protections afforded by labor laws.
Increasing transparency and oversight helps keep governmental systems accountable. When the “Badass Grandmas” of North Dakota set out to pass a constitutional amendment in their state to overhaul government ethics, they faced a lot of opposition from political donors who wanted to remain anonymous. But with the help of several pro-democracy organizations, the campaign succeeded in getting ethics commissioners into office.
We also learn how Taiwan's strong command and control structures, combined with public trust and government transparency, enabled it to quickly stem the spread of COVID-19 and "flatten the curve."
Click here for more stories in the Solutions Story Tracker on peace, justice, and strong institutions.
- After reading the story by Sophia Akram about cholera in Yemen, discuss the second-order impacts of conflict. How are individuals affected, and how does conflict impact international cooperation?
- Describe the measures the Taiwanese government has taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Determine what role strong institutions have played in Taiwan’s high level of preparedness, and whether such measures would be acceptable in the US. Why or why not?
- Read the News Beat story about incarceration in California. What was the role of state legislation in promoting reform? What make efforts in Stockton stand out? Compare and contrast the effectiveness of top-down reforms alongside bottom-up effort.
- What role does transparent data play in ensuring the targets of Goal 16? Consider how data can be a tool for advocacy or reform campaigns alongside the ways in which governments can use data to increase public trust.
- After reading Oscar Perry Abello’s article about domestic worker laws in Philadelphia, explain why a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights was needed and how this relates to structural inequalities reaching back to slavery in the United States.
- Examine at least two other SDGs and their targets alongside Goal 16. Then, either explain or illustrate how the targets of these SDGs relate or influence one another.
- Choose an Issue Area or a Success Factor related to Goal 16. Then, create a collection and select at least 4 (or more) stories from the Solution’s Story Tracker that relate to your topic. If working with groups, each group can present on the issues and solutions they found most compelling.
- Sophia Akram’s piece discusses how four years of war in Yemen have led to a decline in public health. Fighting has led to the damage in vital public infrastructure, in particular the water systems, leading to the spread of waterborne disease. Without a stable government, the UN’s WASH faces obstacles, including a lack of supplies and permissions to carry out their work. Furthermore, ongoing conflict leads to a lack of trust among the population, leading to a decline in participation in civil society. The conflict has also displaced many residents, creating further humanitarian issues.
- The overarching context for Taiwan’s successful efforts is the speed with which it responded to the threat, and the scope of the measures it implemented. In lessons learned from the SARS epidemic, Taiwan established a Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) that coordinated the response across all government agencies and mobilized the resources required for mitigation. Screening incoming travelers for fever, implementing a system of rationing face masks to prevent hoarding, neighborhood wardens enforcing self-quarantines, broad and accessible testing, border controls, contract tracing, and using big data to track the virus were all part of the Taiwanese response. Student answers to the second part of the question will vary, but given the pushback in the US on simple, non-invasive actions like wearing a facemask, it is hard to imagine Americans tolerating even a few—if any—of Taiwan’s actions. Further, Americans do not share the same faith in the transparency and good intentions of its government, key factors in public acceptance of draconian measures. Culturally, Americans also tend to be much less communitarian than Taiwanese, much quicker to feel their personal liberties are being infringed upon.
- While the legislation in California set out to reform the prison system in response to a US Supreme Court ruling, local political will shaped the way that policies were implemented. In Stockton, cooperation with nonprofits such as Advance Peace helped advance a wider crime reduction strategy in the city.
- Nicholas Zahn’s piece about Kyrgyzstan discusses how the country wants to implement big data and biometrics to make its elections more secure, borrowing strategies from Estonia. The digital portal in Kyrgyzstan also provides transparent data surrounding public works and give access to government services. You may also wish to introduce students this article about efforts to leverage big data in Latin America.
- Oscar Perry Abello argues that a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights protects domestic laborers, who are often undocumented women of color, from employer abuse and exploitation. Typically, labor laws protect employees who have a single employer, but these protections prove more difficult when domestic laborers work for several different people during the week. The exclusion of domestic and agricultural workers from traditional labor laws relates back to the policies of the New Deal and relates to an effort to deny certain populations the full benefits of labor laws.
- Answers will vary by student. Goal 16 especially rates to SDGs 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 17
- Answers will vary—for more on creating collections, click here. For more on Success Factors, click here.