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Date(s) - 17/11/2016
All Day


IDS Sussex and CHRIPS


One size fits all? SDG 16 and achieving progress in reducing violence in sub-Saharan Africa

Policy workshop, 17 th November 2016


Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 aims 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.” The inclusion of Goal 16 in the SDGs reflects the growing international consensus that governance and peace and security are important for development. It came after strong criticism of the MDGs for failing to account for insecurity, human rights abuses and weak governance as barriers to development. 1  Internationally and in policy circles, there has emerged consensus around the basic elements of an approach to reduce violence. These include:

(1) the need to create legitimate institutions, often through efforts to craft political settlements,

(2) strengthening access to justice,

(3) extending economic opportunities and employment, especially for young people, and

(4) fostering societal resilience, both through institutions as well as by considering the sustainability of interventions.

1 Realizing the Future We Want for All: Report to the Secretary-General, UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda,

2 Jeremy Lind, Becky Mitchell and Brigitte Rohwerder, Reducing Violence in a Time of Global Uncertainty: Insights from the Institute of Development Studies Addressing and Mitigating Violence Programme June 2016

However, this approach has been criticised since violence dynamics and how to address it “are highly contextual on a national and sub-national level and the optimal design of institutions is never an absolute.” 3 Goal 16 as presently articulated is largely inclined towards a normative conception of “good governance”, which it posits as essential for development. Yet, this position is neither universally accepted nor substantiated in practice. 4

Beyond these fundamental concerns, collection of data to measure progress in implementing Goal 16 has been highlighted as a conceptual and methodological challenge, whether using official data or other data sets. Most current data being used to measure governance is modelled and based in developing countries. 5 Other challenges include the risk of western countries imposing their own ideas of good governance on low-income countries, the challenges of overcoming corruption, and the difficulties in comparing what are bound to be varying interpretations of the goals by different countries. 6 Key questions and debate Measuring progress in implementation of SDG 16 provides the international community with a unique opportunity to better understand the relationship between governance, peace and security, and development. To achieve this, there is a need to develop an approach that adequately reflects individual country dynamics, histories, and priorities. The Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies (CHRIPS) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS, Sussex University) are organizing a one day policy workshop to identify and interrogate evidence- informed practical lessons and policy propositions that can make a material contribution to progress toward SDG 16. It will examine evidence-based insights and related practices on reducing violence from multiple perspectives, and at multiple-levels of governance in two regions with varying trajectories of political and state development as well as trends in types and levels of violence over time: Kenya and Uganda in East Africa and Ghana and Ivory Coast in West Africa.

Key questions to be addressed include:

 What are the long-term trends in levels and types of violence in different political settings

in sub-Saharan Africa? What are the implications of these for ongoing efforts to reduce

violence and instil more peaceful political development?

 What are the donor conflict and funding trends in Eastern Africa? Whose violence

matters, why and with what consequences for violence reduction policy and


 What methods and approaches are needed to measure changes in conflict, peace and


3 ibid 4 Adedayo Bolaji-Adio, The Challenge of Measuring SDG 16: What Role for African Regional Frameworks? No. 175 May 2015, Challenge-Measuring- SDG16-May- 2015.pdf

5 David Hulme, Antonio Savoia and Kunal Sen, Governance as a global development goal? Setting, measuring and monitoring the Post-2015 Development Agenda ESID Working Paper No. 32, March 2014, http://www.effective- pdfs/esid_wp_32_hulme_savoia_sen.pdf 6 ibid

The workshop will bring together researchers from East and West Africa as well as government, civil society, and aid actors to discuss practical policy and programming approaches to achieve progress in reducing violence. Spaces are limited to 30. To RSVP contact Brian Mwaniki ( by 1 November 2016.