Recently, the new post-2015 agenda has been determined — and it’s called The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. After advocacy by civil society organizations, the new 2030 agenda includes — for the first time — targets on justice and governance, recognizing the importance of fundamental rights, transparency, accountability, and access to justice to sustainable and stable societies.
Goal 16 is “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” This goal, impressively, includes reducing all forms of violence; ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and violence against children; promoting the rule of law; ensuring equal access to justice for all; reducing corruption; developing effective, accountable, and transparent institutions; providing legal identity for all; strengthening national institutions; and promoting non-discriminatory laws and policies.
This is fantastic news and provides ample space to further develop metrics and more quantitative, detailed indicators for measuring progress. There are, however, concerns — that the scope of the new targets in the 2030 agenda are too broad, and that it may be difficult to once again communicate the importance of these new goals to the world. Indeed, measurement might be particularly tricky: when it comes to justice and governance, there is often little consensus on even basic definitions. What does it mean to promote the rule of law, to ensure ‘access to justice’ and to develop an accountable institution? A lot of aspects of justice systems can be complex, and there is not always a clear definition or indicator of these terms. But this is now an opportunity to discuss and develop some sort of consensus on these issues — and actually make concrete progress and put real international commitments towards making access to justice and governance a reality.