Weak justice systems, corruption and human rights violations all threaten Agenda 2030
Civil society platforms convened from 26-28 May 2019 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome, where they had an opportunity to share their views on progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG16) on Peace, Justice and Inclusive Societies. The Conference facilitated in producing the Rome Civil Society Declaration on SDG16+, issuing a clarion call to States to do more to protect civil society spaces from violence and discrimination. The recommendations laid out in the Rome Declaration will provide a basis for policy advocacy at key events later this year, such as the High Level Political Forum from 9-18 July and the SDGs Summit this September.
As the world has seen democratic reversals in recent years, the implementation of SDG16 faces serious challenges. The Rome Declaration notes that around the world, over 40 countries are in active conflict and 92 countries have become less peaceful over the last 10 years.
Similarly, 321 human rights defenders were killed in 2018, as reported by Frontline Defenders, with environmental and indigenous rights activists being at the highest risk of physical attack.
The arrival of the Declaration coincides with the upcoming High Level Political Forum, which will be held under the theme Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality. During the Forum, Member States will submit voluntary reviews of national actions taken to meet their Agenda 2030 targets. The participation of ministers and high-level representatives will be an occasion for partnerships and plans for coordinated action to emerge.
For civil society organisations, the Rome Declaration is the result of a mobilization process, that in its final form, gives expression to the knowledge and experiences of embattled civic spaces, and it aims to influence high level dialogues on Agenda 2030, offering ways forward that emphasize integrated and coordinated actions to implement SDG16.
The International Land Coalition also notes that the Declaration makes explicit reference to promoting land tenure security, and recognizes that in many contexts, conflict arises from issues related to land rights. ILC members recognize the need to support local and subnational capacities for peacebuilding, such as alternative dispute resolution mechanisms that seek to balance the views of stakeholders affected by conflict.
"It is important we interpret the fulfilment of SDG16 targets as a means to an end for achieving the 2030 agenda, recognizing the goals are linked and interdependent," said Rukshana Nanayakkara, Global Policy and Advocacy Expert at the ILC Secretariat.
Leading up to the HLPF and SDG Summit, civil society organisations are encouraged to sign up to the Rome Declaration to pressure States to 'mobilize further actions to accelerate implementation' of SDG16. The Declaration includes a number of recommendations that it calls on States to commit to, such as increasing global aid flows, reducing military spending on defence and militarization, curbing illicit financial flows (including offshore tax evasion and avoidance), and recognizing the role of civil society in strengthening the ability of Member States to realize SDG16 commitments.
The international community has accepted that peace, justice and inclusion are underlying principles for the broader Agenda 2030. With a season of consequential political meetings on the horizon, now is the time for civil society to stand up and insist on peace as a necessary condition for development and sustainability goals.
You can endorse the Rome Declaration via the form here: https://forms.gle/SRPB5BRKm4aEpiPF6
 The set of goals to be reviewed during the HLPF are Goal 4, 8, 10, 13, 16, 17