Wednesday 22 September 2021


The UNGA Conference is the flagship event of the JWF, creating a platform for diverse stakeholders to discuss the Global Agenda 2030, offer innovative solutions, strategies, and policy recommendations to advance further the culture of peace, human rights, and sustainable development. Every year, this global event gathers an interdisciplinary group of distinguished panelists and high-level speakers to discuss a particular agenda around the three subsequent panel sessions in response to the priorities of the present UN General Assembly and propose a framework for action.

The successful implementation of SDG #17: Partnerships for the Goals remains at the center of the UNGA Conference 2021 as the SDGs can only be implemented with strong global partnerships and cooperation. The SDG 17 is focused on the UN rallying together strong partnerships in achieving all the Global Goals. The JWF has contributed to this goal by mobilizing its Global Partners in sharing best practices and initiating people-centered policy suggestions on the achievement of the UN Development Agenda 2030.

The action-oriented 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has encouraged all stakeholders, including UN Agencies, Member States, the private sector, civil society actors, and experts to bridge the gap between policy and knowledge while creating interlinkages between them the goals and accelerate the implementation progress of the SDGs.

This year, 2021, still represents the critical turning point for our global community which has been combatting the COVID-19 Pandemic. The challenges posed by his global health crisis enabled our international community to redefine economic and social development while following new trends of methodologies and policy implementations.

The UNGA Conference 2021 covered the following themes: (1) Progress of SDG 17: Partnerships for the SDGs; (2) Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability; and (3) Quality Education in the Post-Covid Era and Digital Technologies.


Cemre Ulker, US Director and Representative of JWF to the UN Department of Global Communications welcomed the global audience to the 6th Annual UNGA Conference 2021: Transforming Our World, organized on the occasion of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. In her remarks, she stated that the UNGA is a critical time during which the Heads of States are delivering their statements on the world`s most pressing issues. The main theme of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly is “building resilience through hope”. Recovering from COVID-19, rebuilding sustainably, responding to the needs of the planet, and respecting the rights of people are set as the priorities of the 76th Session of the UNGA.

Ms. Ulker quoted the President of 76th Session of the UN General Assembly His Excellency Abdulla Shahid: “We place our hope in humanity, because at the end of the day, that is all there is.” She continued: “In partnership with 36 civil society organizations from 24 different countries, we are here to transform our hope for inclusive societies into action, offer innovative strategies, and policy recommendations to advance the culture of peace, human rights, and sustainable development.”

The successful implementation of SDG #17: Partnerships for the Goals is the main mission of this international platform. Ms. Ulker indicated that  SDGs can only be implemented with strong global partnerships of civil society organizations with Member States and UN agencies. She highlighted that the UNGA Conference will host 25 distinguished speakers from 14 countries, all are experts in different areas. Following today’s gathering, Ms. Ulker noted that the Conference Committee will adopt a Declaration and Proceeding Document, as well as an action framework to be implemented by the Conference stakeholders.

In closing, Cemre Ulker extended special thanks to the following global partners for their valuable contributions in organizing the UNGA Conference 2021. Argentina – Intercultural Dialogue Center; Australia – Affinity Intercultural Foundation; Brazil – Institute for Intercultural Dialogue; India – Indialogue; Japan – Japan Multicultural Association; Romania – Association for Dialog and Universal Values; South Africa – Turquoise Harmony Institute; Thailand – Samakee Institute; and USA – Cage Free Voices.

Her Excellency Célia Parnes, the Head of the Secretary of Social Development of the State of São Paulo was the first Keynote Speaker of the Opening Session at the UNGA Conference 2021. Her Excellency has been honored by the State of São Paulo Legislative Assembly Foreign Communities Parliamentary Council with the Military House Medal for her outstanding social services and she had been appointed as the Woman of the Year by the São Paulo Municipal Chamber. In her speech, Her Excellency Parnes highlighted the importance of global solidarity and building sustainable partnerships, especially during the times of a global health crisis. She touched on challenging the status quo, improving on social mobility, sustainable development practices touching on social justice, access to universal health care, education, promote equality and ended her brief speech by call on the international community to join hands in fighting coronavirus, the inequalities most families face in distribution of vaccines and improving livelihoods of those affected to cope. Her Excellency concluded her remarks by inviting everyone to take an action to transform our lives by providing opportunities for all in the local and national communities.

Honorable Verity Firth, Former New South Wales Minister for Education and Training and the Executive Director of Social Justice at the University of Technology Sydney was the second Keynote Speaker of the Opening Session. Hon. Firth has over fifteen years of experience at the highest levels of government and the not-for-profit sector in Australia. Before her parliamentary career, Honorable Firth worked as a lawyer and was Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney. In her speech, she started by honoring the first people of New South Wales by mentioning the Aborigines. In reference to SDG 4: Inclusive and equitable quality education for all, Hon. Firth highlighted how inequalities have emerged in digital education due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia was affected like most developed nations were. She talked about the relation of family economic status in response to the school learning success. Students from the higher ranking schools whose parents were also more empowered scored better marks than those from mixed diversity schools. It immediately dawned on policy analysts that children from low level family status did not have resources for internet connectivity and even if they did, they could not afford a laptop to organize their learning and assignments. Society needs to acknowledge equity impact in learning. Hon. Firth said that there should be a more community driven response to the education and needs of its community members. Advancement in technology can assist teachers and pro-actively support remote learning. Hon. Firth concluded her keynote speech by saying “Bottle it and keep it for all. Re-organize learning to cover everyone.”

There is a call for working towards a framework of an accurate alignment between the local, national and recovery plans. The UN DESA`s studies underline that “a recovery plan that is actively aligned to a holistic, comprehensive account of the 2030 Agenda” is essential to build back better. This approach could help address concerns from the UN DESA Report on “The Impacts of COVID-19 on Stakeholder Engagement for the SDGs” which indicates that “stakeholder engagement is at risk of falling away in the face of key challenges”. One of the most prominent challenges highlighted in the report is that there is a need for more  international calls for partnerships to better implement SDG17. The panelists have shared their remarks on how to facilitate collaborations at different levels of stakeholders and shared several civil society best practices.

Prof. Patricia Kunrath was the moderator of Panel 1. Prof. Kunrath is the Knowledge Coordinator of the Group of Institutes, Foundations and Enterprises in Brazil. In her opening remarks, she indicated that “According to the Social Progress Index, at the current rate of progress, the Sustainable Development Goals will not be achieved until 2082, decades after the deadline set by the UN.” Sharing several best practices from Brazil, Prof. Kunrath underlined, “we know that it is not an easy task to align often divergent interests and even diverse world conceptions to work towards common goals, but several initiatives show that this is the most effective and sustainable way of paving the road for systemic change.” Moderator Prof. Kunrath started the session by introducing the respective Keynotes of Panel Session 1.

H.E. Ms. Markova Concepción Jaramillo is the Permanent Representative of Panama to the United Nations.  Her remarks underlined the critical implication of the pandemic on education as this global crisis has endangered twenty years of education progress. Families were affected most by having their livelihoods diminished. Her Excellency Ambassador Jaramillo indicated that “Global partnerships within sectors are vehicles that will allow us to materialize this ambitious people-centered agenda in a timely manner.” She concluded her remarks by reminding the global audience that Sustainable Development Goals encourages us to imagine a world with no poverty, good health, quality education, gender equality, sustainable communities, and a better balance with the environment.

Michelle Breslauer, the Senior Manager of the Peace and Humanitarian Affairs at the UN Global Compact was the second Keynote of the Panel Session 1. Michelle Breslauer indicated that the UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative with over 14,000 participants and over 69 networks globally. Ms. Breslauer talked about the importance of businesses establishing trust and connection with civil society. She indicated that “We know that Agenda 2030 not only calls for the participation of the private sector but requires it. Businesses have an essential role in this process as a holder of economic power, pioneer of innovation and technology and influencer of stakeholders including governments, consumers, investors, and suppliers.” Ms. Breslauer continued her remarks by underlining that “Transformational governance calls for businesses to provide greater accountability, integrity and transparency in their own corporate governance but also stronger environmental and social protections and supporting efforts to create more inclusive institutions, laws and systems – as a compliment not a substitute for government action.”

The first speaker of the session was Sarmad Khan, Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Affairs of New York University and a Member of the ACUNS Board of Directors from Canada. Mr. Khan presented an overview of SDG17: Importance and Current Challenges of Multi-stakeholder Partnership for the Goals. In his remarks, he shared his vast experiences in international affairs in United Nations development cooperation, international policy and programs and executive leadership development. Mr. Khan underlined that innovation and finding good solutions should be the key to global partnerships. He added that “The essence of collaborative leadership is to be able to identify the dynamics, manage relationships among different groups and bring all stakeholders to form a new commitment for the whole society to change and strive to achieve this agenda”. Mr. Khan concluded his remarks by indicating that making this SDGs driven, multi-stakeholder agenda successful requires coalitions, a common driven platform that allows individuals and institutions to work on complex and conflicting issues in constructive ways.

Nancy Mahon is the Senior Vice President of the Global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability at The Estée Lauder Companies. Ms. Mahon focused on corporate social responsibility for implementing the global agenda 2030. Nancy Mahon indicated that “if you go along, you go quickly, but if you go together you go far”. She focused her remarks on the importance of social environmental sustainability and supporting the communities where we live and work. Ms. Mahon underlined that at The Estée Lauder Companies, “Our commitment to tackling environmental issues and climate change is non-separable; we work together with communities to advance the women and girls”. She emphasized that companies with a global footprint have an impact and we have a responsibility. It is a business imperative to make sure women, in particular, are treated fairly, equally and have the resources that they need to be active participants in the global economy.

Prof. Chol Bunnag, the Director of SDG Move at Thammasat University, Thailand, focused on the capacity building for socio-economic development. He said that SDGs are not only goals and indicators but also development principles, shared language, frameworks for planning, reporting impact and tools for empowering and negotiating with other stakeholders. Prof. Bunnag shared his analysis from Thailand underlining that there are not many available resources to raise awareness among the public on the content of the SDGs. Later in his remarks, he presented SDG Move`s initiatives and best practices for capacity building by bringing essential reports to the attention of the public audience and creating platforms for scholars to share their insights in regards to the implementation of the SDGs.

Dana Coppola, the Public Relations and Media Specialist at Embrace Relief, was the next panelist focusing on how partnerships, voluntarism and collaborations assist Embrace Relief to deliver humanitarian assistance worldwide and contribute to the UN in achieving the SDGs. She started her remarks by saying that through collaboration and education, the world can begin to transform. Ms. Coppola introduced Embrace Relief as a non-profit organization dedicated to providing innovative, sustainable, research-based solutions to vulnerable communities worldwide for long-lasting improvements. Throughout her remarks, she shared several best practices from Embrace Relief such as First Bricks, an educational program for the refugee children advancing the SDG 4, the right to achieve quality education.

The last speaker of the Session, Ashok Sajjanhar is a Former Ambassador of India and the President of Institute of the Global Studies. Ambassador Sajjanhar discussed the role of peace and security to facilitate global partnerships for sustainable development which is a key to peace-building and a facilitator of SDG 17. He indicated that the advantages of virtual connections and digital technologies should continue to assist stakeholders to initiate global partnerships in the Post-COVID 19 Era. Ambassador Sajjanhar highlighted that “the whole world is a family” an Indian philosophy encouraging our global community to share its resources and knowledge in combatting the adversities that impact the world.

The setbacks during the COVID-19 caused a reduction in the ongoing environmental damage, only in the short run. Climate change and ecological threats are still posing a great risk to the timely achievement of the SDGs. The targets of the Paris Agreement are still off track. According to the progress report of SDG 13: taking urgent action to combat climate change, “in order to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels as called for in the Paris Agreement, global efforts would need to reach net-zero CO2 emissions globally around 2050”.

The moderator of this session was Takahisa Taniguchi an Environmental Activist from Japan. Mr. Taniguchi initiated a movement called, “Chikyu wo ma-moro (Save the Planet)” and started generating knowledge about the consequences of climate change and mobilized civil society organizations to take concrete actions. In his opening remarks, he presented a brief overview of the recent highlights of increasing climate change and ecological threats.

The first panelist of this session was Lauren Herzer Risi, the Project Director of Environmental Change and Security at Wilson Center. Ms. Risi focused on the impact of increasing ecological threats on future levels of conflict, migration and talked about the US perspective. She highlighted that “Climate change acts as a risk multiplier, not just for migration, but for conflict and human security as well.” Climate change compounds the risks that people are already facing in their day-to-day lives including instability, food insecurity, access to safe and clean water, and they are indeed magnified in being new threats. Ms. Risi put an important emphasis on the fact that “the challenge of climate change is the unpredictability of its specific impacts” and how these factors interact with existing vulnerabilities.

As a next panelist, Prof. Will Steffen, the Councillor of Climate Council of Australia and Climate Change Expert at Australian National University discussed climate crisis calling for a global response. Prof. Steffen started his remarks by underlining that climate change is happening more rapidly than we anticipated and it is becoming more dangerous. He continued his analysis by presenting several recent natural disasters that are escalated due to the effects of climate change in Australia, Canada and Germany. Prof. Steffen indicated that 2020 was 1.2 Celsius above the 1850 – 1900 average (pre-industrial period) and it was one of the three hottest years on record. This spike of the dramatic increase in climate change is the result of human influence due to burning fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas. Prof. Steffen concluded his remarks by reminding the audience that we need to act now as the climate evidence is absolutely clear and moving at an unprecedented rate.

Following Prof. Steffen, Jonathan Sury, the Project Director for Communications and Field Operations at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP), The Earth Institute discussed climate change, community resilience and gender equality. Mr. Sury started his remarks by a briefing on the recently evolving disaster landscape such as extreme weather events, emerging infectious diseases, man-made disasters and information overload. He indicated that “post-disaster vulnerability is increased due to shortage of basic services including education, health, and employment, less capacity for local organizing and unsustainable over-production to ensure short term income. Mr. Sury also talked about the important framework of gender, vulnerability, and intersectionality in disaster preparedness. He underlined that women are affected by the climate crisis disproportionately as they are less likely to control the production of income, have less education and training as well as holding fewer positions on decision-making bodies.

Aleandra Scafati, the Founder and President of Ecomujeres Foundation from Argentina presented an overview on the role of women in combating climate crisis and shared several best practices. Ms. Scafati indicated that humanity`s survival depends on a rapid migration into a circular and low-carbon economy. These changes require modifying consumption and production patterns, thinking in circular holistic business models, having empathic, supportive, and cooperative leadership. Women are the natural candidates to lead that transition. Ms. Scafati said, “Women have characteristics that define the ideal type of leadership needed to exercise the transition into a neutral carbon economy.”

Anne Eta is a high school senior at the Childville, Ogudu GRA school in Nigeria and she attended the Cage Free Voices Ambassador Program. Her intervention was on youth leadership in establishing community resilience and combating climate change. Ms. Eta said that “As youth, we play a major role in the development of our countries. The sooner we realize that the power to aid a country’s development and growth is in our hands and take charge of promoting social transformation to our countries, the more secure our future is. Anne Eta also underlined that “Promoting youth leadership by encouraging our adolescents in our community to exercise authority the right way over themselves and others pushes us closer to our main goal: Combating Climate Change.”

All the Global Goals are interrelated and dependent on each other. SDG4 “ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all” has a remarkable contribution to the implementation of the Global Agenda 2030. One of the critical areas that the COVID-19 Pandemic has caused a substantial setback is access to education. Panel Session 3 addressed the following themes: Long Term Implications of an Unequal Access to Education During COVID-19, Remote Learning: Opportunities and Challenges, Overview of Global Access to the Digital Technologies, Resources, and Disparities, Girls` Education and Women’s Empowerment in the Era of Digital Technologies.

The moderator of this session was Dr. Rajendran Govender, the Executive Director of Mzansi Empowerment Enterprise and Social Cohesion Advocate at the Department of Arts and Culture from South Africa. In his opening remarks, Dr. Govender highlighted that one of the most critical areas that the COVID19 caused is the substantial setback to access quality education. He underlined that there is an urgent need to develop new conceptual frameworks for effective teaching and learning strategies engaging students meaningfully to lead to better outcomes. Dr. Govender also added that there is a need to move away from conventional teaching styles to use interactive digital technologies.

The first panelist of this session was Prof. Modesto Seara Vázquez, the Rector of the Oaxaca State University System and the Honorary President of the Mexican Association of International Studies from Mexico. Prof. Seara Vázquez focused his remarks on the long-term implications of unequal access to education during COVID-19. Prof. Seara Vazquez started by highlighting that resource management globally has been very irrational in recent decades pushing human survival at stake.  He stated that education as an instrument of mobility and social progress is only effective if it is high quality. Prof. Seara Vázquez emphasized the fact that “If we misunderstand the sense of equity, we limit ourselves to the facilitating young people within the educational system obtaining degrees that is not packed by knowledge resulting in permanent imbalances.”

The next panelist Vivian Heyl is the Representative of the Minister of Education from Chile shared her insights on the theme of remote learning opportunities and challengesMs. Heyl underlined that in Chile during 2020, only 56% of homes had access to the internet and 30% had access only through mobile phones with lesser connectivity in low income households, especially in rural settlements. Vivian Heyl indicated that “COVID19 increased social inequalities: leaving school has an impact on future income, negative effect on upcoming economic and labor opportunities, increasing the risk of poverty and social exclusion.

Following Vivian Heyl`s remarks, Dr. William C. Schulz, the Director of Academic Outcomes Research and Founder of Center for Social Change at Walden University talked about the overview of global access to digital technologies, resources, and disparitiesDr. Schulz said that integrated classroom design, engagement, expectations and technology deployment are critical elements for quality online education approaches which may create challenges for access. In his presentation, Dr. Schulz proposed that “we should leverage the power of specialization, cooperation and build hybrid cooperatives, public and private, in which individuals with higher experience in the online world can begin to work with people on the ground with local experiences.”

Mirabela Amarandei, the Director of Strategic Orientation and Public Policies at the University of Bucharest from Romania, talked about girls` education and women’s empowerment in the era of digital technologiesAccording to Ms. Amarandei investing in girls` education creates our future, transforms families, communities, countries and shapes the entire world into a better and prosperous place. She said that “Girls and women are the real agents of change.” Ms. Amarandei highlighted that “girls education goes beyond the simplicity of going to school; it means proper conditions of living, ensuring a safe and meaningful space for learning, maintaining equal opportunities for inclusive quality education”.

Feyzullah Bilgin, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Tulip International Colleges shared several best practices of the right to access quality education during COVID-19. He presented an overview of the challenges that students encounter in Nigeria. Mr. Bilgin said that “According to UNICEF, one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria; here, about 10.5 million children are not in schools.” The states in the northeast and northwest have female primary net attendance rates of 47.7 percent and 47.3 percent, respectively, meaning that more than half of the girls are not in school. In line with SDG 4, Mr. Bilgin indicated that “we are educating around 1500 girls in our schools, which are mostly located in the northern zone of Nigeria. NTIC scholarship scheme has also been extended to 40 Dapchi girls who were kidnapped in 2014 after their release in 2016.”

The last speaker of Panel Session 3 was Rares Voicu, the Board member of Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions from Romania. He pointed out that the pandemic has wiped out 20 years of educational progress and affected the lives of young people worldwide. Mr. Voicu indicated that “We are facing an educational catastrophe.” He talked about the fact that the most unrepresented stakeholders being the school students, the main beneficiaries. Mr. Voicu said that “At the 76th Session of the UNGA, the world leaders have been talking about the brighter future that we will have, but we can only get there through quality, inclusive and accessible education.”


The Keynote Speaker of the Closing Session at the UNGA Conference 2021 was Dr. Swadesh Rana, the Former Chief of the Conventional Arms Branch at the Department of Disarmament Affairs at the United Nations. Dr. Swadesh Rana is a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute in New York and the UN Representative of the Academic Council of the UN System. In her closing remarks, Dr. Rana talked about the importance of SDG 17 saying that it is one of the most cross-sectoral goals. She highlighted that there are less than 10 years to achieve all the goals and talked about the urge that the 2020s should be the decade of transformative actions for the implementation of the Development Agenda 2030. Dr. Rana underlined that the main facilitators of this ambitious development framework are the partnerships that civil society organizations lead, the academia and the scientific community that bridge the gap between knowledge and informed decision-makers.

Closing remarks of the UNGA Conference 2021 were delivered by Mehmet Kilic, the President of the Journalists and Writers Foundation. Mr. Kilic started his remarks by thanking the keynote speakers, moderators and panelists for their outstanding presentations, reflections, and remarks. The panelists provided participants with a substantial analysis of information on the Progress of SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals; Climate Change and Ecological Threats; and Quality Education during the Post-Covid Era and Digital Technologies.

Mr. Kilic reiterated the Journalists and Writers Foundation`s commitment to youth empowerment, youth leadership and youth engagement, which play an important role to offer sustainable solutions to social, economic, and environmental challenges. Young people have the energy and potential with the 21st century knowledge, skills, determination to make a difference in society. Mr. Kilic highlighted that following the exemplary leadership of Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai, there are tens of thousands of young people in our community who want to make a difference in society, who want to express their ideas on sustainable peace, climate change, gender equality, social justice and equality, and other issues. It is our responsibility to engage young people in our work and give them a voice. Mr. Kilic reminded the global audience that climate change is a global threat that requires partnerships, collective efforts, and actions. Governments, the private sector, and civil society must work in collaboration and cooperation to overcome its social, economic, and environmental challenges.

In his final words, Mr. Kilic reiterated that the Journalists and Writers Foundation and its Global Partners are committed to an inclusive, transformative, and achievable UN Development Agenda for humanity and the planet that will help achieve our global mission of “Leaving No One Behind.”

UNGA Conference 2021 was a success with 25 speakers from 14 countries; over 3500 participants from 28 countries; and 36 Global Partners from 24 countries. The Panel sessions were recorded and will be available at www.unga-conference.org and JWF’s YouTube Channel.



Panel 1 Resolutions

Panel Session 1 reflected on 25 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, especially a review of how the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted then.

Resolution 1.1: The UNGA Conference 2020 adopted the resolution that recognizes Gender Perspectives and Women’s Leadership in Policy Making, Good Governance and Accountability to include women. But it adds that women on their own may not achieve much, as has been observed the last twenty-five years, since Beijing 1995.

We the participants of UNGA Conference 2020 declare that gaps found in developing an inclusive policy should be filled, where both genders (men, women, boys and girls) learn from the start the importance of women’s enabling process to support their contribution to sustained household incomes and state economy.

Resolution 1.2 states that the public and private sectors, should recognize the inclusivity nature of both genders, especially when it comes to jobs, loans, opportunities for women, girls, as part of the wider process of transforming social and economic development in any country.

We the Conference participants declare that the public and private sectors, should recognize the inclusivity nature of both genders, especially when it comes to jobs, loans, opportunities for women, girls, as part of the wider process of transforming social and economic development in any country.

Resolution 1.3 acknowledged the slow gender-responsive implementation of the Global Goals 2030.  The UN Women findings recognize the progress in the last twenty-five years where the percent of professional and higher-level staff who are women, has gone up from 32.6 percent in 1995 to 44.2 percent in 2020.

We the Conference participants declare that the number of women parliamentarians around the world should be improved from the current 25 percent to 50 percent in the next twenty-five years. We affirm the need to have a gender-balanced parliament, in government cabinet appointments and in the private sector and other institutions where this balance has not matured, while keeping in mind deep seated cultural impediments found in different societies.

Resolution 1.4 acknowledges the advancement in technology to enable women to become effective economic owners.

We the conference participants declare that more should be done to increase women’s access to technical resources, encourage more women to be social entrepreneurs and contribute to the economy through remunerative work rather than the domestic house economy they are known for.

Resolution 1.5 acknowledged that the advancement in technology has given rise to trendline of cyber violence and online hate crimes against women.

We the conference participants declare that there should be a stop to this growing global harassment of women and children cutting across national borders, cultures, and races. We agree with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 55/25 of 15 November 2000.

Panel 2 Resolutions

Panel Session 2 focused on the review of five years of actions in implementing SDG #16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. SDG #16 is an intersectional enabler for the implementation of the Global Agenda 2030.

Resolution 2.1 Despite the vital role of SDG 16, there are many global threats against establishing peaceful and just institutions, including: shrinking space of the civil society, severe human rights violations, particularly against women, immigrants, and people of color, increasing conflicts, and violence.

We the Conference participants declare that all nations, states, governments, civil society groups, take SDG 16 seriously as part of the wider policy development.

Resolution 2.2 Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Agenda 2030 declared the objective to leave no one behind; therefore, sustainable development goal #16 should be advanced as part of the human rights agenda as an essential element of policy development.

We the Conference participants declare that the Member States, national human rights organizations, and civil society are called upon to prioritize the integration of human rights, in order to create peaceful, just, and strong institutions.

Resolution 2.3 recognizes the decline of Democratic Values and Rise of Autocracies Globally by calling on the promotion of democratic values expressed in SDG #16.

We the Conference participants declare that the unchecked brutality of autocratic regimes and the ethical decay of democratic powers globally, requires an international intervention to make those countries less hostile, demand for democratic values from all to combat autocracies globally.

Resolution 2.4 addresses abuse of human rights of journalists and news reporters across the globe and the importance of information technology freedom.

We the Conference participants declare that declare that there should be a call to link good governance with the right to access information, transparency, and accountability, especially in countries where totalitarian regimes are known to suffocate justice.

Panel 3 Resolutions

Panel Session 3 discussed the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular focus on SDG #3 (Good Health and Well-Being) and SDG #17: Partnerships for the Goals.

Resolution 3.1 COVID-19 is a health crisis but also a Human Rights issue. The Pandemic is highlighting deep economic and social inequalities and inadequate health and social protection systems that require urgent attention as part of the public health response.

We the Conference participants declare that rather than just looking for a cure, there should be a harmonized response to economic downturn and inequalities, especially in poor economies.

Resolution 3.2 the right to health care services should also match the right to education by all children globally. The pandemic has brought about a crisis management process which creates imbalance on the way society assists elderly citizens, immigrants and other individuals in need, but less focus on children’s right to access quality education in schools.

We the Conference participants declare that a review on how the pandemic is being contained and how education is being delivered, while creating a balance on the way society assists elderly citizens, immigrants and other individuals in need.

Resolution 3.3 reflects on the COVID-19 and Right to Life in Prisons.

We the Conference participants declare that respective governments take urgent action in addressing the full range of infection risks faced by prisoners deprived of their liberty, by creating more space, reducing overcrowding, allowing more access to health services and the right to life by prisoners during the pandemic.


Opening Session



On the Occasion of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, the Journalists and Writers Foundation and its Global Partners organized the 5th Annual UNGA Conference, entitled; “Transforming Our World: Five Years of Action Towards the SDGs”. Organized by 35 Global Partners from 24 countries, the UNGA Conference 2020 hosted 21 distinguished panelists from 11 countries who shared their knowledge and years of experience in advocating for women empowerment and gender equality, implementing the SDG Goal #16: peace, justice, and strong institutions, and assessing lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 500 participants from 47 countries actively contributed the discussions with their questions, arguments, and comments from different points of views.

The UNGA Conference 2020 started with the Welcome Remarks by Mehmet Kilic, President of the Journalists and Writers Foundation. Mr. Kilic said: “The year 2020 is historic time as we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations and the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration that focus on women empowerment and gender equality. The UNGA Conference 2020 aimed at reviewing the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals five years after the adoption of the UN Global Agenda 2030 in 2015.” It is an opportunity for us to look back on the achievements and look forward to the challenges we face as humanity and deliver sustainable solutions.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Kilic told the participants that a conference declaration will be prepared and disseminated within the United Nations, the UN Member States and other relevant bodies as a policy recommendation for the assessment of the implementation of the SDGs. The UNGA 2020 Conference Proceedings, including speakers’ papers and presentations will be published and shared with multiple stakeholders as a point of reference to rethink and realign implementation policies and practices for higher levels of outcomes considering the new normal in the post-COVID era.

Honorable Prof. Bob Carr, a professor and a career diplomat who served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia, delivered his Keynote Speech with his greetings from Sydney, Australia. Prof. Carr stated that we are living at a time of substantial global challenges: global warming and the challenge of producing a world where there is peace, justice and strong institutions. He said: “The persistent challenge of climate is very valid but the problems we face in achieving peace, security and robust institutions is all the greater than the climate change. We’ve witnessed tragically a retreat of the civic space where we thought people could operate independent of government and make criticisms and seek information and fight for their rights.” The right to speaking out and advancing the frontiers of freedom are being restricted, the civic space is becoming restricted and is not being expanded. He suggested that world leaders can solve such challenges by ensuring the norms of political contestability and pluralism, respecting the views of others, and not persecuting people for holding dissident opinions.

In the 21st century, the civilized world and societies celebrate the culture of being dissident; instead of turning the forces of the state against dissidents, governments and leaders should not to resort to the easier task of closing down dissident voices, of limiting the room for difference or not permitting people who think they discriminated against or repressed to speak out and draw attention to their case. This has particular sensitivity to people already disadvantaged, in many cases women and girls, immigrants, including those who suddenly find themselves without a nationality seeking a new home and persons of color, many times in the context of increasing conflicts and violence.

Prof. Carr also stressed the importance of access to public information, in particular journalists, reporters, and human rights defenders. He said that too many journalists are in prison where people have lost their freedom simply to obtain access to information. Human rights defenders also face challenges and risks to advocate for people who’ve been dispossessed and are at risk. Human rights defenders need our support and we need to deliver the guarantees for them to carry on fight for peace, justice, and equality. “Member states, national human rights organizations and civil society need to speak again about the integration of human rights to create peaceful and just and strong institutions.” he added.

Prof. Bob Carr also stated that promoting democratic values is integrally linked to SDG #16. The public should have confidence in judicial systems and public ethics in public institutions. According to Freedom House, there are 14 consecutive years in which global freedoms have declined that undermines strong and respected global institutions. According to the Freedom of the World 2020 report, “the unchecked brutality of autocratic regimes and the ethical decay of democratic powers are combining to make the world increasingly hostile to fresh demands for better governance.”

According to the United Nations Report 2019, a total of 397 additional killings of human rights defenders, journalists and trade unionists were recorded and verified in 41 countries. He called on UN Member States and intergovernmental organizations have to protect human rights defenders, journalists, reporters or the recorders of fundamental rights being undermined or corroded. It is vital for the world to make the right decisions about the condition of life on the planet. Prof. Carr encouraged the panelists and the participants to push the UN Global Agenda 2030, to push the human rights frontiers to protect the people at risk and the planet.

Dr. Wayne Henry, Director General, Planning Institute of Jamaica delivered his Keynote Speech on COVID-19 and Beyond: Perspectives from Jamaica’s experience in integrating the SDGs in the implementation of Vision 2030 Jamaica, a National Development Plan from 2015 to 2020. Dr. Henry examined areas of progress, strengths and gaps sharing early insights on the way forward with Jamaica’s motto, “Out of Many One People” that represents integration, equity and inclusion as core principles in advancing a vision for Jamaicans and the rest of the world. Vision 2030 Jamaica provides a framework for the achievement of a secure and prosperous future where “Jamaica becomes the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.” It is geared towards the achievement of four synergistic and interdependent sustainable development goals which cascade into 15 National Outcomes.

Dr. Henry stated that the SDG implementation has been aligned with the goals and outcomes of Vision 2030 Jamaica and targets of the SDGs with strategic priorities such as coordination, partnerships, capacity building in planning, monitoring and evaluation, data and statistics, communications and advocacy. However, due to the coronavirus “COVID-19” pandemic, Jamaica had experienced mixed results with performance and gains made in human capital development, macro-economic stability, and governance while challenges were experienced in security and safety, environmental sustainability and the rate of non-communicable diseases.

According to the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, Jamaica was ranked 6 of 180 countries with positive performance on key international governance indicators such as freedom of speech, accountability, and government effectiveness. Jamaica continued its focus on advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality within the framework of the National Policy for Gender Equality (NPGE, 2011) and alignment with the Beijing Platform.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Henry stated that COVID-19 has created cracks in global systems and structures which pose threats and present opportunities for change and growth. In Jamaica, COVID-19 had deleterious effects on lives and livelihoods with an estimated economic shrinkage of 10.0 per cent for the fiscal year, which increased different types of vulnerabilities for the majority of the population with public health and economic survivability concerns. To overcome the negative effects of COVID-19, Jamaica depends on public-private and other partnerships, and the role of civil society and non-governmental actors that are critical to ensuring that the necessary capital, expertise and ownership of policies and programs for sustainability, equity and resilience. Realignment of national policies and practices with the framework of the SDGs ensures human capital development and social protection by embracing a “new normal” that “leaves no one behind.”


Panel 3 – Lessons Learned from Covid-19 Pandemic: Evolving Social and Economic Development for Sustainability

Panel Session 3 discussed the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic with evolving social and economic development for sustainability. Moderated by JJ Green, panelists shared their expertise on responding to global emergencies and best practices from covid-19, the new era of online engagement: evolving economic development and private sector, refugee rights during the pandemic, and covid-19 and right to life in prisons: Turkey case.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Mehmet Kilic, President of the JWF stated that we are living in an unprecedent time in the history of humanity that we face a global health crisis: COVID-19. He said: “We must remember that this is not only a health crisis, but a social, economic, and environmental crisis.” The COVID-19 taught us at least one lesson that diseases, disasters, and crisis do not discriminate people by race, ethnicity, gender, or socio-economic background. It doesn’t matter if you are a developed or a developing country; when it hits, it hits everybody hard!

To overcome this disease, we need collective efforts and actions to fight against the coronavirus that is targeting our health, our economy, and our security. It is important that we work together in this fight because we are stronger together! But of course, we are not pessimistic about the future. On the contrary, we are hopeful for the future; if we all work together, we can come out of this crisis even stronger!

Hon. Mr. Anton Morozov is a Member of Parliament at the State Duma and a Member of the High Council of the LDPR (RUSSIA). Morozov delivered a keynote address on “Ongoing communication and engagement strategies in combating the Pandemic”. On behalf of the State Duma (Lower House of the Russian Parliament), he used the opportunity to bring you greetings from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and Russian people. our people he acknowledged that humankind had never faced so many global challenges as it does today. In addition to regular ones, the COVID-19 pandemic has already become a real global health and economic crisis.

Russia was affected by COVID-19 as many other countries and became a part of the ongoing pandemic of this disease. There are many speculations about origin of that disease; some sources insist that this virus is a part of some kind of bioweapon. However, all scientific analyses found no evidence that the virus was made in a laboratory or otherwise artificially engineered.

It was confirmed, that the virus came to Russia on January 31, 2020 with two Chinese citizens visiting Tyumen (Siberia) and Chita (Russian Far East). Both Chinese were tested positive for the virus. As the first step to prevent virus spreading, the extensive testing had started and the border with China was closed. Read more…


JJ Green is the National Security Correspondent at WTOP Radio based in the U.S. and he moderated Panel Session 3 on Lessons Learned from COVID-19 Pandemic: Evolving Social and Economic Development for Sustainability. Green, a long serving and renowned journalist, with rich experiences across the globe, gave these statistics. Over one million people had died from COVID-19 by September 23, 2020, that is about 5 thousand a day. There are 1440 minutes in each day. There are 86,400 seconds in a day. During the next five minutes, while I’m speaking, MANY people will lose their lives to COVID-19. By 22nd September 2020, the US death toll from COVID-19 reached 200,000. Friends and family died, needlessly in some cases, because of bad information or no information in one of the most developed countries in the world. It made him and others like him to commit their rime to work tirelessly to help bring an end to this pandemic and prevent another from happening.

As racial tension, COVID-19, on-going conflicts, and political chaos test the cohesiveness of our planet. Our world faces unprecedented challenges that; day by day, degree by degree, undermine the ability to perform the vital work of truth-seeking and responsible and inclusive reporting. Those challenges are existential threats to our industry, our constituents and our world. He encouraged all people to work and defeat those challenges. Key among them are distortion of facts and efforts to discredit and harm journalists. People are dying in the U.S. and around the world because they are confused about what is true and what is not about the spread of COVID-19. People are dying because they can’t get access to the care they need. People are dying because they’ve lost their jobs, family members to the disease and they’ve lost their hope. We have work to do. This work involves exposing the lies, threats to our safety and security, promoting understanding of them, and helping to create mechanisms to overcome them.

Jeff Schlegelmilch is the Director for the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute spoke about Responding to Global Emergencies and Best Practices from COVID-19. There is a very uneven experience with Covid-19 that is driven by ecological conditions to the natural spread of the disease to population density and movement, seasonal effects that aren’t fully understood as well as within communities themselves.

According to the report by the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, the data shows that marginalized communities are historically disenfranchised or bearing a disproportionate burden of the Covid-19 disease. In New York, there is an outsized number of cases among African Americans and Hispanic and Latino populations compared to other social groups. They are bearing the brunt of chronic diseases due to structural inequities and structural racism based on discriminatory policies. Unfortunately, where people live predisposes people to outsized effects of disasters and infectious diseases. Many marginalized groups are essential workers who have to go to work when many other people could stay home or work remotely.

Also, there’s this false narrative to either shut down the economy or keep it going. When it comes to fighting with the diseases, you have to do the opposite, which is bad for the economy. For instance, in comparative countries in Europe, we observed lockdowns much more aggressively and much more uniformly and temporarily. Initially, it depressed economic activity but it bounced back faster than the U.S. after the spread of the disease in under control. That’s the way pandemics work like in waves. Controlling disease spread creates options for the economy: opening the businesses, traveling with some restrictions, and for individuals to take responsibility on social distancing and personal hygiene. Read more…

Basma Alawee is the State Refugee Organizer of Florida Immigrant Coalition in the USA. Ms. Alawee spoke about the Refugee Rights during the Pandemic. Today, nearly 80 million people are forcibly displaced, which is more than one percent of the world population. There are 26 million refugees and more than 4 million asylum seekers globally. Nearly 46 million people are internally displaced. Nearly 90 percent of refugees live in developing and low-income countries with the fastest growing infection rates, which makes refugees more vulnerable. During Covid-19, there is a lot of deficiencies in medical supplies, health services, and accurate information during the Covid-19 pandemic. Vaccine nationalism pose risks of limited access for refugees and migrant populations who are often not included in country specific pandemic reopening plans.

Refugees are impacted not just by Covid-19, but also by the fear that is causing around the world. In response to the pandemic, it is estimated that 164 countries across the globe have limited or cut off access to asylum. In some cases, governments have clearly weaponize public health concerns to advance nationalist political agenda, including the United States.

World Health Organization and the UN Refugee Agency are trying to partner with governments to strengthen public health services to millions of forcibly displaced people. UNHCR launched a global 255 million appeal to lessen the impact of Covid-19 outbreaks within refugee communities. Limited entry into and exit from refugee camps hinder efforts to allow refugee professionals within foreign nationals to serve as essential health workers. Read more…

Burak Haylamaz, a human rights expert at the Human Rights Solidarity in the United Kingdom, spoke about COVID-19 and Right to Life in Prisons: Turkey Case. Burak gave an overview of the announcement of COVID-19 as a global pandemic and response from the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). CPT immediately produced a set of principles for Member States to follow in their approach to people who are deprived of their liberty. As one of the signatory countries of the Council’s European Convention of Human Rights, Turkey is one of the addressees of these principles.

These principles were endorsed by the UN Commissioner for Human Rights by calling upon governments to respect fundamental freedoms and democratic standards while devising and implementing measures to fight the pandemic).

The key recommendations, Member States are required;

  • First, to improve the conditions of prisons to the level of international health and safety standards, i.e. all medical and hygienic needs of detainees and convicts;
  • Second, to ensure that prisoners have the access to medical care, medical equipment and medical staff at any time;
  • Third, to ensure that restrictive measures can only be taken if they are necessary and proportionate. (such as video communication in lieu of family visit).
  • Fourth, to ensure that the absolute nature of Article 3 ECHR (prohibition of torture and ill-treatment) is not violated. Hence, no limitation or excuse is acceptable if a taken measure lead to the infringement of the prohibition.
  • Last but not least, MSs are required to use alternative means of deprivation, such as early release, probation, house arrest, if applicable. Read more…


Shiv Vikram Khemka is Vice-Chairman of SUN Group and Executive Chairman, The Global Education & Leadership Foundation in India. He spoke about the New Era of Online Engagement: Evolving Economic Development and Private Sector. Mr. Khemka said that the private sector is going through unprecedented times with the issue of jobs. It is a new era of online engagement with considerable risks and some opportunities. Most people are working remotely over 50 percent of those in the working population. Some recent surveys showed that 70 percent of people are actually not complaining and believe their efficiency may be going up whereas 30 percent are unhappy.  Many jobs have been lost and many more jobs could be lost depending on how long this recession goes on.

Mental health and interpersonal relationships have excessive burden on women in terms of dealing with the work from home. In terms of education, more than 1.2 billion young people are out of school where students are accessing e-learning. The reality is that only 59 % of the world’s population has access to internet whereas 41 % still doesn’t have access to the Internet. So, there’s a huge digital inequality that could have significant repercussions over the next few years.

Creating enough jobs is another challenge that pose multiple effects in society and impact on the economy by slowing down economies. People are either losing their jobs or have little job stability whereas the loss of entry of jobs is also being exacerbated by technology. Technology is also coming in at the same time digitalization artificial intelligence and many other things which will create many jobs but are also destroying many jobs at the same time. It’s going to be a big challenge for the people and lose their jobs to learn and adapt and reskill for the new economy. Read more…

Closing Remarks

Mr. Mehmet Kilic, President of the JWF closed the UNGA Conference 2020 discussion with his closing remarks. He said that the panel discussions have been very fruitful and productive with so many information to digest, learn, and act on in the next 10 years. Mr. Kilic reiterated Journalists and Writers Foundation’s and its Global Partners’ commitment to inclusive, transformative, and achievable UN Development Agenda for humanity and the planet that help achieve our global mission of Leaving No One Behind.

The UNGA Conference hosted 21 speakers from 11 countries with over 520 participants from 48 countries. Partnership is one of the highlights of the conference that 35 global partners from 24 different countries put their efforts to make this conference a success. Mr. Kilic thanked global partners for their leadership, dedication, and support in organizing the UNGA Conference 2020.

Mr. Kilic closed the session by announcing the Pioneers in SDGs Awards that pay tribute to outstanding individuals and organizations contributing to sustainable peace and development through innovative and creative projects. Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies; protecting human rights, the rule of law, and democratic values; empowering women, girls, and youth for social justice and equal opportunities play an essential role in achieving sustainable development goals worldwide.

The Pioneers in SDGs Awards Ceremony was held on September 24, 2020 at 12:00pm-1:30pm EST. The Journalists and Writers Foundation and its 35 Global Partners acknowledged the contributions of projects to society serving as an exemplary model that inspires others towards positive social change while contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This is a remarkable opportunity for project participants to share their project as best-practices with the United Nations and other relevant stakeholders while exploring other opportunities for collaboration and partnership.

Panel 2 – Implementing SDG #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Panel 2 Session undertakes a review of five years of action and the progress made in implementing SDG Goal #16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. Moderated by Ms. Paula Boland, speakers discussed children’s human rights and digital environments with global considerations, decline of democratic values and rise of autocracy globally, rise of violence against journalists and right to access information for strong institutions, and access to justice for transparency and accountability in governance.

Paula Boland is an attorney specializing in environmental law and international affairs and serves as the President of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area and the Chair of the UNA-USA National Council. Ms. Boland moderated Panel Session 2 that focused on Implementing SDG #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Through Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG #16, member states have committed to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and being effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. When the international community look back on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), governance emerged as a critical element in explaining the uneven progress across these goals in many countries. One of the lessons from the MDGs was that democratic governance, peace and security and the rule of law, including protection of human rights, are critical to sustainable development. A human rights approach helps identify who is vulnerable or being left behind and the ways in which those who are marginalized can be empowered to overcome their vulnerability.

The 2030 Agenda presents a shift, a significant shift and radical new approach to transforming our world, focusing on the integrated pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. It is universal, including issues such as inequality, access to justice, peace and security, and aims at leaving no one behind. Moreover, the SDG Agenda has an additional complexity in terms of its implementation and requires a mix of national ownership, flexibility, innovation, political acumen, high quality technical support and collective multi-stakeholder effort at all levels in order to become progressively a reality. Read more

Natalia Marcela Molina is a criminal judge and member of the International Association of Women Judges and Second Vice President of the Women Judges Association in Argentina. Ms. Molina spoke about children’s human rights and digital environments, global considerations. Her mission today is to inspire those who were thinking about being actively involved on campaigns that inform and promote the importance of children’s human rights.

Key points raised from her speech were as follows:

  • The consequence of the Covid19 pandemic, has made online education and communication to increase drastically. Children have been seriously threatened from the exposure to digital environment.
  • There has been a rise in the production and distribution of child sexual abuse content and online harassment. In most countries this is treated as serious crime, yet the abuse is growing.
  • The social media has been identified as the instigator of these crimes.
  • Once this image or videos are online, they automatically become a part of an enormous child sexual abuse network that not only exposes the pain of these victims to millions, but puts at risk, once again, their physical and psychic integrity.
  • Even in Latin America which is, at the moment, the most advanced region in the implementation of this new measures, we are still learning and facing challenges.
  • There is no doubt, this problem needs to be a part of the agenda for action in all countries. Those countries which have not implemented laws to ensure there is justice for victims and develop a long-term preventive measure.
  • Cyber-crime, organized or not, has no boundaries and expands fast. That is why we need a world that is united, with international collaboration and fluent communication on this topic.

All people are called upon to expose this cyber-crime on children by conscientizing communities we come from.

Michael Collins, Executive Director of the Americas of Institute for Economics and Peace, spoke about the Decline of Democratic Values and Rise of Autocracy Globally. Mr. Collins presented findings from a recent Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) Report, with regards to reducing violence in line with targets and indicators related to SDG #16. The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute. They dedicate their work to shifting the World to focus on peace as a positive, tangible and achievable measure of human well-being and progress. This is the 14th year of the Global Peace Index and it ranks 163 countries according to their relative state of peace. The definition of peace in the index is the “lack of violence or fear of violence.” 

And we track that using 23 different indicators. And the methodology for doing that is developed by IEP, but it is sort of overseen by an international panel of experts. The indicators are largely distributed in three domains namely:

  • Domestic and international conflict.
  • Measures of safety and security within society
  • The degree of militarization.

Some of the key findings for the 2020 are presented as follows. The countries in red are the least peaceful countries and those in green are the most peaceful. Overall, findings show the average level of peacefulness has deteriorated by 0.34 percent. It is the ninth deterioration in the last 12 years. 81 countries became more peaceful, 80 countries deteriorated and improvements were driven by the impact of terrorism, homicides by weapons imports and exports, and deteriorations by the political Tarasco refugees, 90 percent intensity of internal conflict. Read more…

Waqar Gillani, a senior journalist and special correspondent for the News on Sunday (Pakistan) spoke about the Rise of Violence Against Journalists and Right to Access Information for Strong Institutions. Gillani presented on the Rise of Violence against Journalists and Right to Access to Information for Strong Institutions in a country like Pakistan. The subject area touched on freedom of expression which is facing multiple challenges.

He said that Pakistan was trying to effectively pursue the targets and the sustainable development goals derived by the United Nations, especially SDD 16, targets and indicators. Pakistan, along with the civil society, helps build some institutions and make them last. And particularly in their sections for SDG 16.10, which is actually “access to information and press freedom” and respect to my subject. There are efforts to make more better laws for access to information and also some guidelines and policies for the safety and protection of journalists. But Target 16.10 of the SDGs specifically aims to promote access to information and freedom, by making laws and policies and strengthening institutions. Target 16.10 calls all to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.

Despite the efforts by many, Pakistan has not been able to reduce crime and violence against journalists as SDG 16.10 indicates. An effective legislator and the proper implementation of laws related to access to information is still required. There is need to create this supporting environment that helps the growth of independent media rather often one sided, a polarized approach. We cannot bring behavioral changes either in the state institutions or in the civil society without having a consensual and balanced approach towards SDGs, making institutions better policies and laws. There is need for the proper regulatory framework that helps in freedom of expression. Read more…

Dr. Shekh Mohammad Altafur Rahman is a human rights lawyer and faculty member of the School of Global Studies, Thammasat University, Thailand. Dr. Rahman spoke about the importance of Access to Justice for Transparency and Accountability in Governance. Dr. Rahman discussed the meaning and components of access to justice that is directly related to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #16. He explained that the SDG #16 and the access to justice component have a clear characteristic of overlapping feature, which cannot stand alone as an achievable component. In another words, there is a clear relationship between strong institutions and the notion of judicial system.

The second component is the meaning of access to justice that is not uniformed everywhere and has different kind of connotation for people in different parts of the world. For example, for a person in a hierarchical society, the notion of access to justice is very different than the person who is living in a free society. Similarly, the interpretation of access to justice is also used by dominant political forces in a country that works best in their own benefit, which is impacting the human rights conditions.

The indicator used to assess the access to justice is based on the SDG targets 16.3.1 and 16.3.2. SDG 16.3.1 is about the idea of political crime and crime repartition and the SDG 16.3.2 is about unsentenced detainee. There are minimum 135 indicators regarding the rule of law, however, SDG #16 includes only 2 out of 135 indicators to assess the access to justice in a country. Therefore, there is an enormous gap in reporting criminal prosecution and the detainee without understanding the entire state of access to justice. Read more…