Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16Footnote 1 aims to achieve peaceful, just and inclusive societies and is foundational to the achievement of all SDGs. People and communities can more easily engage in the actions necessary to achieve the SDGs when they feel a sense of personal safety, enjoy fundamental freedoms and have opportunities to participate in public life. Furthermore, laws and regulations govern all aspects of life and help shape outcomes. This SDG includes many longer-term goals in terms of:

  • reducing violence
  • promoting access to justice
  • building an inclusive society free from racism
  • ensuring more effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions

It addresses challenges such as terrorism, organized crime and corruption. By 2030, SDG 16 specifically aims to:

Canadian ambition under Peace, justice and strong institutions

Canada’s ambitions for this goal are to ensure that Canadians:

  • are safe and secure, in person and online
  • have equal access to justice
  • are supported by effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions

A key focus of these efforts is to build a more inclusive society free from racism and discrimination.

Canadian Indicator Framework

In collaboration with federal departments and agencies, Statistics Canada has developed the Canadian Indicator Framework (CIF) for the Sustainable Development Goals. The CIF includes 76 indicators specific to Canada, which measure progress using a set of nationally relevant, objective and comprehensive indicators. CIF indicators for SDG 16 are:

  • Proportion of people in Canada who reported feeling safe walking alone in their neighborhood after dark
  • Crime severity index
  • Incidence of selected types of crime
  • Incidence of cyber-crime
  • Criminal Court case completion time
  • Incarceration rate
  • Proportion of the population with high levels of confidence in selected institutions

What we are doing to support peace, justice and inclusion in Canada

The Government of Canada fosters peaceful communities through major initiatives as varied as:

Other efforts are designed to promote access to justice whether in relation to modernizing the family justice system or supporting newcomers to Canada.

A commitment to safe and peaceful communities finds expression in action and partnerships against gender-based violence. This has included additional funding to assist organizations such as women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to deal with COVID-19 impacts. Some activities also benefit children, who have been the target of focused initiatives to address violence and sexual exploitation directed at them.

More generally, the Government supports SDG 16 goals through the application of a Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) lens to federal initiatives to support the development of responsive and inclusive initiatives, including policies, programs, and other initiatives. This approach:

  • identifies existing barriers
  • improves access to justice
  • contributes to ensuring that all Canadians feel included, supported, and safe

Diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of Canadian identity. They are also a source of social and economic strength. However, even in an open and diverse society like ours, we know that there are still very real challenges. Through Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, the Government of Canada seeks to foster and promote an inclusive society where everyone is able to fully participate in the economic, cultural, social and political spheres. Achieving this vision is not just a way to build a better country, it also addresses the human cost of systemic and individual racism and discrimination. The Strategy complements existing government efforts and programs aimed at eliminating inequities by focusing on 3 guiding principles:

  1. demonstrating federal leadership
  2. empowering communities
  3. building awareness and changing attitudes

The Government of Canada’s priority commitment to advance reconciliation and renew the relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership, aligns with the aspirations of SDG 16. Measures to improve access to justice for Indigenous people take aim at systemic discrimination in the justice system, such as supporting engagement with Indigenous communities and organizations in the development of an Indigenous justice strategy to address systemic discrimination and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system.

Other measures enhance supports for culturally-sensitive policing and safety in Indigenous communities. To help address the Calls for Justice outlined in the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People  National Action Plan including the Government of Canada’s contribution, the Federal Pathway to Address Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA + People has been released. All these initiatives reflect the broader Government of Canada commitment to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. These initiatives also support the implementation of Canada’s responsibilities under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and under the new UN Declaration Act.

Mindful that inclusion extends to those contributing to Canada’s economic and social well-being, the open work permit for vulnerable workers seeks to protect migrant workers if they face workplace mistreatment.

For its part, the Court Challenges Program supports individuals and communities to exercise their right to bring before the courts test cases of national significance that aim to clarify and assert certain constitutional and quasi-constitutional official language rights and human rights. 

The importance of building strong institutions finds voice in Canada’s commitment to the Open Government Partnership and the development of a National Action Plan, including an Open Justice commitment.

In addition, the Government promotes transparency and empowerment through public legal education programs, which allow people to know and understand their rights. For newcomers to Canada, the Government funds information and orientation services. This aims, in part, to help them better understand Canadian values, our legal system and the realities of Indigenous people in Canada.

What Canada is doing to support peace, justice and inclusion abroad

The Government of Canada supports SDG 16 objectives and targets on peace, justice and inclusion through international assistance guided by Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. International assistance programming focused on inclusive governance includes:

  • support promoting and protecting human rights
  • increasing equitable access to a functioning justice system
  • enhancing participation in public life
  • ensuring that public services work for everyone

Adopting a human rights-based approach helps ensure the fulfillment of Agenda 2030’s commitment to “leave no one behind.” Canada works to advance each of the 12 SDG 16 targets (United Nations Global Indicator Framework) in a way that:

  • advances gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all their diversity
  • promotes diversity and inclusion
  • fosters openness, transparency, and accountability

This also reflects commitments under Canada’s second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, which includes commitments from 9 federal partners. It guides the government in advancing gender equality and protecting and promoting the human rights of women and girls in fragile and conflict-affected states through:

  • development assistance
  • humanitarian action
  • peace and security efforts

Canada supports the SDG call to reduce violence and related deaths through support to UN peace operations, many of which include protection of civilian mandates. Canada was the 9th largest contributor to the UN-assessed peacekeeping budget in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year. Canada deploys military, police and civilian officials to UN missions. Canada also leads innovative approaches to increase the meaningful participation of police and military women deployed to UN missions.

The Government of Canada works with other countries and international organizations to advance a people-centred approach to justice and the realization of SDG 16 through partnerships including with:

  • the United Nations
  • the Commonwealth
  • the Organization of American States
  • the Quintet and Five Eyes
  • the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Similarly, Canada is active in international efforts such the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children. Canada is the leading donor on ending violence against children, with 11.3% of Canada’s official development assistance contributing to programs to end violence against children.

Canada supports democracy, governance, and human rights in an inclusive manner through its international assistance programming, foreign policy advocacy and diplomacy activities. Democracy programming initiatives, such as the Promoting and Protecting Democracy Fund, strengthen democratic institutions, processes and participation, including by civil society, media, and marginalized and vulnerable persons.

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