Why are peaceful and just institutions important

For the sustainable development goals to be achieved universally and with inclusivity, there is a need for the society to remain just, liberal and conflict free. That is, in order to achieve goals determined to bring peace and prosperity, the society which has to develop sustainably must overcome the barriers of conflict, limited access to and participation in justice and weak institutions.

A society is unstable when riddled with conflict induced violence without any protection of rights or institutions to regulate and contain the violence. According to the Sustainable Development Goals Report-2020, everyday there’s 100 victims of armed conflict irrespective of the various laws that aim to protect citizens from crime. This is due to persistence of crime and inefficient institutions of law enforcement and justice.

The UNDP especially highlights the ill effects of crime and conflict. Crime hinders economic growth by instilling fear to demotivate and divert energy from productive activities to protection of self. It also created long term grievances which can negatively affect the growth and well being of children.

And without access to justice and strong institutions, the crime and conflict remains unchecked. Without proper justice systems to turn to, people are pushed into a vulnerable and discriminatory position, due to the conflicts remaining unresolved. This also means that there is no institution that can provide the proper protection a person deserves and is weak not only in terms of offering protection but also in the dissemination of necessary public services.

16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Understanding the root cause for unjust institutions

Institutions have come into place as bodies of authority for protection of citizens through regulation and monitoring to erase any possible disturbance to the rights of the citizens and the peace of society. These institutions are generally aimed to serve people and to be led by an eligible person who can overlook the functioning of the institution while valuing the interests of the people.

However in the face of a weak organizational structure, or a misguided head or external coercion, these institutions fall short in protecting the rights and interests of the people. These are especially noticeable in areas with military conflicts or a downtrodden economy, wherein there is either a militant or terrorist organization which has greater strength in terms of numbers, weapons etc which has a greater hold of the region supported by violence. Economics which are down to the point of widespread unemployment and lack of funds for basic necessities also causes conflicts and crimes, with no sufficient funds for the institutions to distribute public services. Therefore we can see that crime and conflict weaken institutions, and vice versa with disorganized institutions not being able to contain or reduce crime rate.

UNDP also mentions how violence is disproportionate across the world, specific to certain regions. Certain regions see crime as a result of unregulated arms flow; others see it as discrimination based on race, ethnicity or religion etc. A few see a rise in crime due to the state of the economy. Whereas some countries have institutions so corrupt they either don’t provide access to justice or protection to citizens who need it or they misuse their power to support those who commit crime.

Changemakers striving for just and strong institutions

Various organizations and international bodies fight for acknowledgement and upliftment of human rights and rule of law. Amnesty International is one such organization which functions with more than 7 million participants across the globe, for the protection and preservation of human rights across all communities irrespective of socio-economic and cultural background of individuals. Human Rights Watch is an organization which works towards human rights advocacy through utilisation of research and academic tools. Equality Now is a nonprofit which works towards the upholding, acknowledgement, protection and preservation of human rights for girls and women, to ensure equal respect and treatment of all. International Criminal Court is an international body established by the United Nations Security Council, which when warranted, investigates and tries individuals involved in cases of grave crimes against humanity, such as genocide, terrorism etc. The International Court of Justice is established by the UN and validated by the UN Charter which upholds international law and abides by it to resolve any legal conflicts between nations while also acting as a legal adviser to nations when required, while suggesting necessary support by UN bodies when required.

What youth can do as a TAL transformer

Social injustices and crime continues to persist not only due to the existence of poverty and discrimination, but also due to lack of efficiency or strong institutions that can regulate, improve and protect the rights and living standards of people.

What you as a transformer for the society can do, is use social advocacy, philanthropy and entrepreneurial/business ideas in an innovative manner to provide a progressive direction for reaching the goal. Instances of which are as follows

Social Advocacy

  • Promoting human rights and right to justice or rule of law
  • Promote dispute resolution through judicial systems
  • Lobby for inclusivity and participation in anti discriminatory policies and laws.

Social Philanthropy

  • Financial aid for the vulnerable
  • Fund for financial support to the victims of violence
  • Fund for social protection against violence

Social Entrepreneurship

  • Technologically aided measures to reduce corruption and bribery
  • Applications to track violence and provide instant protection to citizens
  • Create a digital archive for publicly accessible information on rights, laws and judicial proceedings.


United Nations (2020). The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020. New York: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Retrieved from https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2020/


Sowmya Vunnam
Sustainability Program Manager