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11. ENSURE STABLE AND PEACEFUL SOCIETIES

a) Reduce violent deaths per 100,000 by x and eliminate all forms of violence against children

b) Ensure justice institutions are accessible, independent, well-resourced and respect due-process rights

c) Stem the external stressors that lead to conflict, including those related to organised crime

d) Enhance the capacity, professionalism and accountability of the security forces, police and judiciary

Without peace, there can be no development. Without development, there can be no enduring peace. Peace and justice are prerequisites for progress. We must acknowledge a principal lesson of the MDGs: that peace and access to justice are not only fundamental human aspirations but cornerstones of sustainable development. Without peace, children cannot go to school or access health clinics. Adults cannot go to their workplaces, to markets or out to cultivate their fields. Conflict can unravel years, even decades, of social and economic progress in a brief span of time.

When it does, progress against poverty becomes daunting. By 2015, more than 50 per cent of the total population in extreme poverty will reside in places affected by conflict and chronic violence. To end extreme poverty and empower families to pursue better lives requires peaceful and stable societies.

Children are particularly vulnerable in situations of conflict. In at least 13 countries, parties continue to recruit children into armed forces and groups, to kill or maim children, commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, or engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals. Recognising their particular vulnerability to violence, exploitation and abuse, the Panel proposes a target to eliminate all forms of violence against children.

The character of violence has shifted dramatically in the past few decades. Contemporary conflict is characterised by the blurring of boundaries, the lack of clear front lines or battlefields, and the frequent targeting of civilian populations. Violence, drugs and arms spill rapidly across borders in our increasingly connected world. Stability has become a universal concern.

Physical insecurity, economic vulnerability and injustice provoke violence, and violence propels communities further into impoverishment. Powerful neighbours, or global forces beyond the control of any one government, can cause stresses. Stress alone, though, does not cause violence: the greatest danger arises when weak institutions are unable to absorb or mitigate such stress and social tensions. Safety and justice institutions are especially important for poor and marginalised communities. Security, along with justice, is consistently cited as an important priority by poor people in all countries.

In 2008, the International Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor estimated that as many as 4 billion people live outside the protection of the law. But every country can work towards social justice, begin to fashion stronger institutions for conflict resolution and mediation. Many countries have successfully made the transition from endemic violence to successful development, and we can learn important lessons from their powerful example.

It is crucial that we ensure basic safety and justice for all, regardless of a person’s economic or social status or political affiliation. To achieve peace, leaders must tackle the problems that matter most to people: they must prosecute corruption and unlawful violence, especially against minorities and vulnerable groups. They must enhance accountability. They must prove that the state can deliver basic services and rights, such as access to safety and justice, safe drinking water and health services, without discrimination.

Progress against violence and instability will require local, national, regional and global cooperation. We must also offer sustained and predictable support. Too often, we wait until a crisis hits before providing the necessary commitments to bring safety and stability.

Assistance from the international community to places suffering from violence must plan longer-term, using a ten- to fifteen-year time horizon. This will allow enough time to make real gains and solidify those gains. And during that time, providing the basics, from safety to jobs, can improve social cohesion and stability. Good governance and effective institutions are crucial. Jobs and inclusive growth are linked to peace and stability and deter people from joining criminal networks or armed groups.

Steps to mitigate the harmful effects of external stressors such as volatile commodity prices, international corruption, organised crime and the illicit trade in persons, precious minerals and arms are sorely needed. Effectively implementing small arms control is especially important to these efforts. Because these threats cross borders, the responses must be regional and international. Some innovative cross-border and regional programs exist, and regional organisations are increasingly tackling these problems.

To ensure that no one is left behind in the vision for 2030, we must work collectively to ensure the most fundamental condition for human survival, peace.