11 February 2019

#SDGsinAcademia: SDG Hub for Goal 16

As part of the ongoing campaign on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) carried out by the United Nations, the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) series #SDGSinAcademia profiles the new SDG Hubs for each one of the Goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

11 February 2019 - This week our #SDGsinAcademia series features De Montfort University (United Kingdom), a member institution of United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), that has been chosen as the SDG Hub for Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

About the Hub:

De Montfort University (DMU) is an institution committed to the public good and to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is a university proud to be among the most diverse in the word with a public engagement programme that each year carries out hundreds of projects with students contributing over 20,000 hours through volunteering and taking part in events, with the belief that universities are uniquely placed to make a difference.

The university’s recently released five-year strategic plan will also use the SDGs as a prism to focus all of its teaching, research and student support. DMU aims to build a scholarly community underpinned by an ability to challenge convention and create impact. The institution in that sense, wants to successfully shape a sustainable world by combining research excellence, innovative thinking and ambitious plans.

What is this Hub doing for SDG 16?

DMU is the lead institution of higher education in the UN’s #JoinTogether campaign, a network composed by academia, civil society organizations, media and politicians, focused on the plight of forced migration. #JoinTogether aims to promote respect, safety and dignity for refugees and migrants to counter the rise in xenophobia and discrimination and change negative narratives while strengthening social cohesion between host communities and refugees and migrants.

Along the same lines, the university created a support program designed for refugees and asylum seekers, which offers a wide range of activities, including mentoring young refugees through skill development sessions. It also includes IT classes and paired reading sessions for migrant children, teaching English to those who do not speak the language, and working with charities and organizations on these issues.

The institution has also actively fostered respect, safety and dignity of refugees and migrants while emphasizing the benefits of migration and diversity. It is also promoting the ‘Share My Story’ project, a series of interviews with refugees in the city of Leicester, which will create an oral history archive of the different experiences of refugees to better understand the challenges of forced migration.

DMU also promotes active learning with a social purpose among its students, encouraging them to travel across Europe to help refugees. Students have travelled to four different European cities to get hands-on experience with groups or communities supporting refugees and other disadvantaged people. This has involved partnerships with various civil society organizations.

The university also offers courses and programs related to global human rights issues. Part of the faculty has participated in research projects on immigration law and linguistic minorities, to name a few. Moreover, the institution offers an LLM in International Human Rights Law, to explore the birth of international human rights thinking and the struggle to balance competing rights while examining the international legal system and human rights legal systems.

DMU also developed an initiative on zero tolerance to slavery and human trafficking as the university is committed to ensuring that there is no modern slavery or human trafficking in its supply chains or in any part of its business. The institution also hosts the Criminal Justice Research Group, which includes staff with nationally recognized expertise in probation, policing, applied criminology and community and criminal justice.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 reviews progress in the third year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It has an overview that presents highlights of progress and remaining gaps for all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), based on the latest available data, and examines some of the interconnections across Goals and targets.

This is the overview provided in the Report about Goal 16:

Many regions of the world continue to suffer untold horrors as a result of armed conflict or other forms of violence that occur within societies and at the domestic level. Advances in promoting the rule of law and access to justice are uneven. However, progress is being made in regulations to promote public access to information, albeit slowly, and in strengthening institutions upholding human rights at the national level.

  • Nearly 8 in 10 children aged 1 to 14 years were subjected to some form of psychological aggression and/or physical punishment on a regular basis at home in 81 countries (primarily developing), according to available data from 2005 to 2017. In all but seven of these countries, more than half of children experienced violent forms of discipline.

  • More than 570 different flows involving trafficking in persons were detected between 2012 and 2014, affecting all regions; many involved movement from lower-income to higher-income countries.

  • In 2014, the majority of detected trafficking victims were women and girls (71 per cent), and about 28 per cent were children (20 per cent girls and 8 per cent boys). Over 90 per cent of victims detected were trafficked for sexual exploitation or forced labour.

  • The proportion of prisoners held in detention without being sentenced for a crime remained almost constant in the last decade: from 32 per cent in 2003–2005 to 31 percent in 2014–2016.

  • Almost one in five firms worldwide report receiving at least one bribery payment request when engaged in regulatory or utility transactions.

  • Globally, 73 per cent of children under 5 have had their births registered; the proportion is less than half (46 per cent) in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • At least 1,019 human rights defenders, journalists and trade unionists have been killed in 61 countries since 2015. This is equivalent to one person killed every day while working to inform the public and build a world free from fear and want.

  • Freedom-of-information laws and policies have been adopted by 116 countries, with at least 25 countries doing so over the last five years. However, implementation remains a challenge.

  • Since 1998, more than half of countries (116 of 197) have established a national human rights institution that has been peer reviewed for compliance with internationally agreed standards (the Paris Principles). However, only 75 of these countries have institutions that are fully compliant.

The following resources provide general information about the SDGs:

  • This is a comprehensive research guide from the UN Library in Geneva listing resources about each one of the Goals, including books and articles (some of which are fully available on line free of charge), UN documents such as resolutions and reports, and additional resources.

  • The SDG Fund has created this online library featuring over 1,000 online publications. The publications are categorized by the Goals they represent, geographical regions and by authors, to facilitate searchability. Each publication also has a short summary attached to it which helps with keyword searches.

  • This selection of tools is an initiative supported by UNDP, UN-HABITAT and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, which offers concept notes, papers, case studies, compilation of best practices and guides providing contextual and practical information about the SDGs.

  • This guide, entitled “Getting Started with the Sustainable Development Goals”, is intended for stakeholders and designed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to serve as an initial basis for implementing the SDGs.

  • SDSN also developed this guide, entitled “Getting Started with the SDGs in Universities”, to help universities, institutions of higher education and the academic sector in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific to accelerate their contributions to the SDGs by providing practical guidance and examples to inspire further action.

You can learn more about the SDG Hubs at the UNAI website.  

Is your institution a member of UNAI and conducting activities and initiatives around Goal 16? Contact us at academicimpact@un.org to tell us about your work and let us connect your university with the SDG Hub! Working together we can make the 2030 Agenda a reality!