Strengthening the Evidence-base for Achieving Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies

Just and Inclusive Institutions

Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace, justice and inclusive institutions is an enabler to all SDGs as peace, security and good governance have an intrinsic link to development outcomes. The Centre produces research, data and insights to ensure informed policy responses that uphold human rights and deliver more just and inclusive governance services. Understanding these governance challenges helps identify structural bottlenecks that prevent countries from achieving sustainable development and enables policymakers to design responses better tailored to people’s priorities and rights. 



Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on Peace, Justice and Inclusion breaks new ground in development thinking. Not only is it the first time that these issues are being addressed in a dedicated global development goal with detailed targets. The Thematic Review of SDG 16 at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2019 also recognized that Peace, Justice and Inclusive Institutions work as enablers for the entire 2030 Agenda.  Despite some efforts for accelerating progress on SDG 16, the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019 notes that there is still some way to go before realizing peaceful, just and inclusive societies worldwide.

The path towards Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions: DCI's commitment  to SDG 16 - Defence for Children

SDG 16 is measured by 12 global targets with 24 associated indicators which were agreed by UN Member States in the UN Statistical Commission. Together, they show progress, or lack thereof, on Peace, Justice and Inclusion.

Peace – Although some countries reported positive progress for reaching higher levels of peaceful societies, the world at large is experiencing a negative trend with further tensions and societal insecurities, as well as escalating conflicts with an ever-expanding refugee crisis as a result. Some of the global indicators relating to the Peace dimension are:

Justice – Access to fair justice systems is an inherent human right, yet victims of violations do experience unjust treatments and unresolved prosecution processes.

Inclusion – Transparent, accountable and inclusive public institutions serve as the cornerstones for the state to provide the citizens their basic human rights. Birth registration counts as one of the most intrinsic right which in many countries is far from being realized for the whole population, neglecting marginalized people which fail to endorse the principles of leaving no one behind. One global indicator relating to the Inclusion dimension is:

UNDP is a “custodian agency” for several global SDG 16 indicators under targets 16.3, 16.6 & 16.7. This means UNDP has a special responsibility to support countries to report on them at the global level. UNDP also supports countries to monitor progress on SDG 16 and to produce governance statistics more broadly at the country level, through various initiatives.

SDG 16 Hub - The UNDP OGC is managing a one - stop practitioner driven portal on SDG16 called the SDG16 Hub. This portal is intended for anyone interested in getting knowledge and information on SDG16 as well to engage with others. It is available at:  

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    Strengthening capacities to effectively monitor SDG 16 and produce governance statistics more broadly will require well-coordinated, well-funded and complementary action at different levels. Global and regional level support to countries is needed to improve the production of governance statistics and ensure that quality standards are met. In turn, robust national SDG 16 monitoring frameworks will strengthen the follow-up and review processes of the SDGs at the global and regional levels since  strong national monitoring frameworks will help produce an integrated evidence base of policy and programmatic lessons that can spur progress, support advocacy and promote accountability.

    UNDP, through its Oslo Governance Centre, continues to play a key role in the measurement and monitoring of progress on  SDG 16 and in improving the production of governance statistics more broadly.

    To this end UNDP:

    1.       Supports the development of standards on governance statistics  

    2.      Runs an SDG 16 National-Level Monitoring Initiative

      UNDP has been active over the years in supporting the strengthening of governance statistics as an active member of the Praia City Group on Governance Statistics.  The Praia Group on Governance Statistics was endorsed by the UN Statistics Commission at its meeting in March 2015 with a mandate to contribute to establishing international standards and methods for the compilation of governance statistics. Working through to 2025, the Praia Group secretariat group is led by the National Statistics Institute of Cabo Verde (INECV) and provides a forum for national and international statistical organizations, international agencies, academia, research groups and civil society organizations to share and develop expertise in governance statistics.

      The Praia Group Handbook on Governance Statistics (2020) serves as key guidance for member states and takes stock of and qualifies existing practices in governance data collection, highlights the most important metrics for key dimensions of governance statistics, and discusses the way forward required to achieve international statistical standards in each dimension. It is intended as a tool for those wishing to understand, produce and analyze governance statistics, and is primarily targeted towards national statistical agencies.

      This handbook follows eight dimensions of governance:

      1.          Non-discrimination and equality

      2.         Participation in political and public affairs

      3.         Openness

      4.         Access to and quality of justice

      5.         System responsiveness and satisfaction with services

      6.         Absence of corruption

      7.         Trust in institutions

      8.         Safety and security

        The national level monitoring of SDG 16 initiative is based an already tested methodology developed and piloted by UNDP in 2017 designed to build and strengthen inclusive and robust SDG 16 monitoring frameworks at national level. The initiative is a UNDP-led Global Alliance collaboration and includes technical and advisory and experience and exchange support to 14 countries.

        The methodology includes three main phases:

        1. Definition of indicators and baseline data collection. In consultation with national statistical offices (NSOs), drawing from global/international and national (official and non-official) indicators and data sources.

        2. Multi-stakeholder consultations and review of progress. Joint reviews by government and civil society of the proposed indicator framework and of indicator results, and joint formulation of broad policy recommendations.

        3. Periodic scorecards. Periodic tracking of progress using the selected indicators, identifying and addressing data gaps, and formulating specific policy recommendations for each target.

          Sustainable Development Goals 16 is dedicated 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, it includes 12 global targets and 24 associated indicators, is considered a foundational goal of the 2030 Agenda, given the importance of governance, peace, security and justice for achieving all other SDGs.

          UNDP is a custodian agency for several SDG indicators, including four indicators under Goal 16 on Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Institutions. As the custodian agency for these indicators, UNDP has been working on the methodological development and ongoing refinement of the indicators; collecting data from national statistical systems and UN regional commissions; coordinating data and information to inform the annual global SDG progress report; providing metadata for the indicator; contributing to statistical capacity building; and coordinating with other agencies and stakeholders who are interested in contributing to the indicator development and refinement.

          In 2021, over 50 countries responded to the initial call for data on SDG indicators 16.7.1b and c (see SDG Indicators Database).  In June 2022, UNDP launched the second request to report that included all indicators (16.3.3, 16.6.2, 16.7.1b and c, 16.7.2) inviting countries to submit the relevant official data and metadata on the indicators. Two of the indicators are sourced from administrative records and registers (SDG indicators 16.7.1(b) and 16.7.1(c)), while SDG indicators 16.3.3, 16.6.2, and 16.7.2 are survey-based indicators.

          The four indicators under SDG 16 that UNDP is a custodian of:

          Access to dispute resolution mechanisms (16.3.3) -  While there is no standard definition of access to justice, it is broadly concerned with “the ability of people to defend and enforce their rights and obtain just resolution of justiciable problems in compliance with human rights standards; if necessary, through impartial formal or informal institutions of justice and with appropriate legal support.” For citizens in need of justice, several conditions should be met for their rights to be recognized, such as access to adequate information, access to justice services and legal advice, and access to institutions of justice that provide fair and impartial treatment. The rationale of this indicator is to focus on one step of the process and in particular on the accessibility of justice institutions and mechanisms (both formal and informal) to those who have experienced a justiciable problem. The indicator can provide important information about the overall accessibility of civil justice institutions and processes and barriers to this, as well as the reasons for the exclusion of some people. The disaggregation by type of dispute resolution mechanism provides additional information about the channels used by citizens in need of enforcing or defending their rights. The indicator can also capture an important dimension of unmet legal need and access to justice that is measurable, actionable, and policy relevant. Providing information on the several barriers to the access that might disproportionally affect certain vulnerable groups.





          Satisfaction with Public Services (16.6.2) - Governments have an obligation to provide a wide range of public services that should meet their citizens’ expectations in terms of access, responsiveness and reliability/quality. When citizens cannot afford some essential services, when their geographic or electronic access to services and information is difficult, or when the services provided do not respond to their needs or are of poor quality, citizens will naturally tend to report lower satisfaction not only with these services, but also with public institutions and governments. In this regard, it has been shown that citizens’ experience with front-line public services affects their trust in public institutions. Mindful of this close connection between service provision/performance, citizen satisfaction and public trust, governments are increasingly interested in better understanding citizens’ needs, experiences and preferences to be able to provide better-targeted services, including for underserved populations. Measuring satisfaction with public services is at the heart of a people-centred approach to service delivery, and it is an important outcome indicator of overall government performance. Yet while a large number of countries have experience with measuring citizen satisfaction with public services, there is also a great deal of variability in the ways national statistical offices and government agencies in individual countries collect data in this area, in terms of the range of services included, the specific attributes of the services examined, and question wording and response formats, among other methodological considerations. This variability poses a significant challenge for cross-country comparison of such data.

          Representation and participation in decision-making in the public service (16.7.1 (b) – Measuring the extent to which public institutions are diverse and inclusive requires an understanding of which various population groups are represented in the public service (and which are excluded). This in turn provides insight on who is influencing public decision-making and policy outcomes, and how power is being exercised. For more information on the benefits of building a representative public service and on how to promote the inclusion and participation of marginalised groups in public institutions, see this Policy Brief on SDG 16.7.1(b).

          Representation and participation in decision-making in the Judiciary (16.7.1 (b) - Understanding the extent to which various population groups are represented in the judiciary (and the extent to which some may be excluded) is important to understand who is influencing judicial decision-making, and to identify what human resources policies and recruitment strategies are needed to make the judiciary more representative. Evidence shows that a more representative judiciary can be an important first step in the judicial reform processes to ensure more equitable judicial outcomes. For more information on the benefits of building a representative judiciary, see this Policy Brief on SDG 16.7.1(c).

          External Political Efficacy (16.7.2) - SDG indicator 16.7.2 refers to the concept of “political efficacy”, which can be defined as the “feeling that political and social change is possible and that the individual citizen can play a part in bringing about this change”. This perception that people can impact decision-making is important, as it makes it worthwhile for them to perform their civic duties. High levels of political efficacy among citizens are regarded as desirable for democratic stability. Individuals who are confident about their ability to influence the actions of their government are more likely to support the democratic system of government. System responsiveness, or “external efficacy”, can be defined as the individual’s belief in the responsiveness of the political system, i.e. policy-making processes and government decisions that respond to public demands or preferences. Levels of external efficacy across various population groups are important to measure, as they are correlated with trust in government and government evaluations, as well as perceptions of the legitimacy of public institutions. Higher levels of system responsiveness are also expected to be associated with higher levels of political participation, including voting in elections, and with people’s own life satisfaction.

            To fulfil its responsibility as a custodian agency, UNDP – under the oversight of its Oslo Governance Centre - has established an online SDG 16 Data Reporting Platform to facilitate the process of collecting and quality assuring data submitted by National Statistical Systems on its custodian indicators. Focal points in national statistical offices are invited to  upload national data and metadata through this user-friendly interface. The databases on the initial global request of data can be found in the SDG Indicators Database.

            CONTACT OUR SDG 16 TEAM

            For a detailed information on each of the indicators or the reporting platform please see the technical guidance on each of the indicators. You are also welcome to contact the team:

            Aparna Basnyat -

            Mariana Neves -

            Serge Kapto -