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January 31, 2017

New Resource Encourages Good Governance and Citizen Participation

While weak governments, corruption and poorly functioning administration continue to deny citizen participation in governance around the world, the international development community, civil society organizations (CSOs), justice sector actors and policy practitioners now have an opportunity to shine a light on these issues through the 2016 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Advocacy: Justice and the SDGs” is a step-by-step guide geared toward leveraging the SDGs to advocate for increased governance support and financing from governments.  Click here to download

For the first time, the SDGs contain explicit international commitments to strengthen governance and build strong, accountable institutions. In partnership with Namati, the International Legal Foundation, the Open Society Justice Initiative and the Transparency, Accountability and Participation network, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) is delighted to announce the launch of its newest resource, "Advocacy: Justice and the SDGs”.

“Advocacy: Justice and the SDGs” is a step-by-step guide geared toward leveraging the SDGs to advocate for increased governance support and financing from governments. The guide introduces the SDGs and explains the central role good governance, citizen empowerment and participation play in their success, using case studies to illustrate this relationship. It also contains a number of tips and diagnostic tools, including ABA ROLI's rule of law assessment methodology, a gap analysis and solution tree, to help readers obtain data around country-specific governance issues. Ultimately, this guide will assist its users in developing advocacy strategies for reforms that will increase overall good governance and citizen empowerment and help hold their governments accountable to the SDGs and other international justice commitments.

In September 2015, world leaders came together to endorse and adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which provides principles for good governance and strong and accountable institutions. Within the SDGs, Goal 16 calls on all countries to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development . . . and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” Five global targets under Goal 16 include key aspects of good governance: transparency, accountability, responsiveness and inclusive participation in the functioning of governments. Many of the other goals also contain governance elements. For example, Goal 5 commits to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,” stating that reforms must be undertaken to “ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.”

The U.N. Interagency Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators has developed common global indicators, which will measure whether countries are making progress towards these governance targets. Global indicators will be an effective way to track progress and identify which regions and issues are failing to make progress. While a global indicator framework has its limits, monitoring progress at the national level will be especially vital and expected to include country-specific indicators created by governments and non-governmental sources.

As a result, CSOs already promoting good governance will play a critical role in the development of complementary national indicators to assess what is working and what is not in a country. They will also identify good practice solutions and proposals to strengthen institutions and citizen participation.

With support from the governments of Argentina, Indonesia and South Africa, the guide was officially launched in November 2016, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Members of civil society and governments welcomed the guide with enthusiasm. On Feb. 15, 2017, at 9 a.m. EST, Namati, ABA ROLI and other partners plan to convene a range of experts from government and civil society to explore approaches to national implementation of SDG 16 and governance issues, and will showcase implementation efforts already underway. The event will also walk users through “Advocacy: Justice and the SDGs.” You can sign up free for the event here.