Recently, the new post-2015 agenda has finally been determined — and it’s called The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. After extensive advocacy by civil society organizations, the new 2030 agenda includes — for the first time, ever — 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 to “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? Many aspects of justice systems can be complex, and there is not always a clear definition or indicator of many of these commonly used terms. Yet, the new agenda presents us with a unique opportunity and a historical moment to discuss and begin to develop some sort of consensus on these issues — and actually make concrete progress with real international commitments behind making access to justice and governance a reality.