PBI-Netherlands on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #16

Published by Brent Patterson on

Please see this Peace Brigades International-Netherlands statement on Sustainable Development Goal 16 which has been translated into English below:

The Sustainable Development Goals – often abbreviated as SDGs and successors to the Millennium Development Goals that dominated many development agendas from 2000 to 2015 – should serve as a guide to eradicating poverty and inequality, combating climate change, and ensuring overall peace for everyone in the world.

The SDGs have been adopted by as many as 193 world leaders, demonstrating a great global willingness to significantly improve the world by 2030. A total of 17 different goals have been set, each of which has been worked out in more detail. We want to specifically address goal number 16: Peace, security and justice.

This goal calls for the forging of peaceful and inclusive societies, so as to develop sustainable development. For this it is important that everyone has access to justice and also feels secure in the protection of his or her rights. This objective is also related to the establishment of effective and open institutions at both local and national level within which responsibility is taken. The achievement of this goal is remarkable, since little attention was paid to this facet within the earlier Millennium Development Goals.

However, there is now more agreement that when it comes to the implementation of the SDGs, reliable public bodies that guarantee peace and security must not be missing. They serve as an important foundation for inclusive societies: where peace, security and justice, they have an impact on development – and vice versa. So there is a strong interaction between the two.

Human rights defenders play an important role in guaranteeing peace and security. They serve as undeniable needs in the web, although it is often not without danger to their own lives.

Peace Brigades International (PBI) supports the work carried out by human rights defenders in a number of project countries: Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Indonesia and Nepal.

The type of support here is based on providing security to human rights defenders so that they can continue their work in constantly changing circumstances, often characterized by threats and setbacks. This increases the chance that they will achieve their goal: less violence, fewer human rights violations, less corruption, and ultimately a stronger and more anchored legal system.

In this context, local human rights defenders play a key role in SDG number 16. They are the ones who are committed to access to judicial protection and a society in which people feel secure in their rights. They are the ones who over and over again address issues that would otherwise soon be covered up: marginalization, building respect, recognition and trust within societies.

This does not happen without a struggle. And that is why the work of Peace Brigades International focuses specifically on the working and living conditions of this group of people. There are a number of different protection mechanisms, so-called ‘protective accompaniment’ is one of them.

In addition, one can also consider relocation at local, regional or international level: human rights defenders are then taken out of the threatening context to catch their breath and/or follow training.

Both tactics go hand in hand with lobbying and advocacy at the three aforementioned levels and PBI Nederland is involved in both types of protection mechanisms.

PBI has been working in the field of human rights for more than 35 years and promotes non-violence within it. We do this by sending international observers to areas where conflict and oppression play, to stand shoulder to shoulder with the local human rights defenders whose lives are under pressure. Our presence has proven to reduce violence, persecution and even the number of murders.

The work of PBI is based on two core values: impartiality on the one hand, and on the other hand PBI does not interfere in the existing conflict. A sustainable transformation of a violent conflict cannot simply be enforced externally, but must be based on the capacity of local people to sustain a lasting peace. We only act in response to the wishes of local people, those who decide where,

PBI also offers protection through advocacy. We do this at all levels: from the soldier at a local checkpoint to UN leaders. PBI Nederland supports work in this field by maintaining networks that can be mobilized in the short term.

We offer human rights defenders a platform to which they might otherwise have had less access, to serve as a megaphone for their vote in the hope that their message for human rights and freedom will be heard by those who can make a difference.

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