Just prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2015, we organised an event on SDG 16 in collaboration with a number of local and international NGOs: Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, CIVICUS, Integra Foundation, Jesuit Refugee Service, Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement, Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta. The event was supported by the Open Society Justice Initiative.
AIMS OF THE MEETING
The aims were threefold:
- To provide an overview of the Sustainable Development Goals and a deeper understanding of Goal 16, it’s relevance and importance to civil society and the Commonwealth;
- To discuss the opportunities and possibilities presented by Goal 16 and explore the options for collaborative efforts, possibly within the framework of a flexible coalition. Since the goals and especially goal 16 is still very new with indicators yet to be finalized, many of those involved are still working through the details. The purpose of the coalition would be to create a forum for information sharing on activities and practices, to brainstorm ideas and consider accountability mechanisms to ensure the Commonwealth plays a leading role in achieving this goal;
- To communicate a strong message to the Commonwealth that in order to achieve it’s potential it must:
- Engage with civil society in furthering Goal 16;
- Promote and protect civil society particularly in areas where there are severe restrictions being exercised which curb the freedoms and rights of civil society;
- Uphold the Charter values and demonstrate that it is values based association;
- Capitalise on the opportunity provided by the SDG’s, for the Commonwealth to be a leading voice for peace, justice and equity in the international community. This can make it relevant to the future even as it goes about its own renewal.
The meeting emphasized the role of the Commonwealth in light of the newly minted Sustainable Development Goals and in light of the renewed mandates of the Commonwealth. For the Civil Society Groups present – rights advocates ranging from those at the grassroots level through to the intergovernmental level and from a number of Commonwealth countries – South Africa, Malawi, Kenya, India and Malta – the issue of closing spaces and the context of global disturbances also set the context for understanding what was possible to achieve.
We are now extremely happy to publish the Consultancy and Outcome Report of the event, and look forward to working with the event partners on the challenges and opportunities presented by SDG 16.
These are the recommendations and lessons learnt from the event:
- Civil society organization in Malta to work effectively and closely with the Maltese PM and the new Secretary General to make the CMAG a much stronger body;
- Civil society across the Commonwealth to build strong relations and collaborate with Maltese NGO’s to further Goal 16;
- CHRI together with colleagues from Malta and those at the consultation to build a strong effective network between civil society organisations across the Commonwealth with Maltese NGO’s as a central point in order:
- To maintain accountability of the Chair and the Secretary General;
- To build a strong mobilized network of organisations focused on Goal 16;
- Civil Society at all levels (grassroots through to intergovernmental/quasi governmental) to work closely and maintain a consistent dialogue with the Commonwealth in order to heighten the relevance and profile of the Commonwealth; stay abreast of any arising issues and to encourage and support the official Commonwealth in becoming the key organization pushing for the implementation of SDGs.
The full report may be downloaded here.