RFSD 2019 SDG 16 Session 1

SDG 16, SESSION 1 “Strengthening Institutions for Change:Fostering Effective and Inclusive Governance for Sustainable Development

Dear all,

My name is Valentina Bodrug-Lungu. I’m coming from Republic of Moldova, Gender-Center and WMG, but I am here today to speak as a representative of civil society, as part of the UN ECE Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism.

Armed conflicts, the militarization of societies and the weakening of democracy undermine freedom of association, endanger the physical integrity of union organisers and leaders and ultimately affect the power and strength of the trade union movement.

The ITUC annual Global Rights Index showed that democratic space was constrained by governments in 54 countries in the last year, and the number of countries experiencing physical violence and threats against workers has risen to 65 countries in the same period. In 59 countries, trade unionists were arrested or detained. In an increasing number of countries those defending labour, human rights, peace and the environment take action at the risk of incarceration, disappearance or even murder.

ITUC Global Rights Index 2018

  • Attacks on civil liberties: Workers were exposed to physical violence in nearly half of all countries of the 2018 Rights Index, including Turkey, Ukraine.
  • The number of countries with arbitrary arrests and detention of workers increased from 44 in 2017 to 59 in 2018 – including Turkey, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
  • 65% of countries exclude workers from the right to establish or join a trade union.
  • Civic space continued to close around the world and decent work and democratic rights grew weaker in almost all countries, while inequality continued to grow - the number of countries that deny or constrain freedom of speech increased from 50 in 2017 to 54 in 2018.

To implement and achieve SDG 16, promoting the decent work agenda and its four pillars - employment creation, social protection, rights at work, and social dialogue – is key. Human and labour rights, freedom of association and collective bargaining, hand in hand with social dialogue are not only essential ingredients for sustainable economic growth and job creation, but also the pillars of democracy-building. Building and fortifying democratic processes is in turn a cornerstone for just development.

Working for peace, democracy and rights means securing a decent standard of living for all. It means social justice, equality and equity for everybody.

Effective governance is an important precondition in order to implement any in-sector reform and to achieve important commitments under the SDGs. SDG 16 should be a key driver and provides a clear opportunity to consolidate regional and national efforts to achieve sustainable development in the European and Central Asia region and beyond.

We strongly recommend:

  • Establish and strengthen independent and effective National Human Rights Institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles, who serve as bridge-builders between state authorities and NGOs, and support NGOs in accessing to and having impact on law and policymaking processes and ensuring that laws and policies are inclusive and effectively address all groups in societies.
  • All countries must recognize and challenge the existing multiple forms of discrimination such as based on age, gender, disability, LGBTI, ethnic groups, migrants, etc. A gender lens with the intersections is needed.
  • Access to information throughout the life course is key to achieve SDG 16. Indicator 16.10.2 refers to the number of countries that adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information. This goal has been achieved as 90% of the world's population lives in a country having a right to information law or policy. We recommend to focus on the implementation and monitoring how effectively governments and authorities are implementing laws by providing vital services and holding them to account.
  • In terms of infrastructure planning, member states must ensure they have provided prior and informed consent to civil society, in particular related to indigenous peoples land. We also reiterate that all governments must ratify ILO convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries
  • Empowering people’ requires public policies enacted by Member States to follow the principles and standards of international human rights treaties and to uphold the human values shared across countries and cultures. This includes policies for all at all ages, gender, abilities which are often uncoordinated, fragmented or non-existent.
  • Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels – involving CSOs representatives of all ages, including younger and older Women’s NGOs. To ensure inclusive participation of all groups at all stages of decision making process.
  • To ensure the involvement of CSOs, including younger and older persons and women’s NGOs, in the process of conflicts’ negotiation and mediation.
  • Access to rehabilitation services, justice and remedy of all affected people throughout the life-course during conflict and post-conflict period.
  • Localization of international standards and national documents on Women, Peace and Security, Agenda 2030 in order to ensure its mainstreaming into policies at local level – ensuring the “Leave No One Behind” principle
  • To ensure interlinkages between SDGs 16 and other SDGs.
  • Access to justice to all