United NationsDepartamento de Asuntos Económicos y Sociales Desarrollo Sostenible

Linking Good Security Sector Governance and SDG16

DCAF - Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (

    The 2030 Agenda recognizes that sustainable development is intertwined with peace and security, each incapable of being achieved without the other. This nexus was made explicit in SDG16, stressing the need for peace, justice, and strong institutions. An essential step to achieve the ambitions envisaged under this goal, is for all states to redouble their efforts to ensure that their national security sector is both effective and accountable, and operates within a framework of democratic civilian oversight, rule of law and respect of human rights.


    This project provides guidance on how Security Sector Governance and Reform (SSG/R) policies can contribute to achieving SDG16, and in particular targets 16.6 and 16.7 which are crucial for legitimate stability, especially in fragile contexts, and have a catalytic effect on the entire 2030 Agenda. In line with this objective, the project: 1. Positions SSG/R as a powerful policy tool at the national and international levels for realizing SDG16, and in particular 16.6 and 16.7. 2. Establishes the linkage between oversight actors of the security sector and their contribution to good governance and accountability and provides these actors with the means to realign their strategic priorities with the 2030 Agenda. 3. Develops SDG16-specific guidance that supports states in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its subsequent reporting.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    SDG16 is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious goals of the 2030 Agenda with many cross-cutting effects on other goals. However, many of its targets remain vague and not well-defined for actors contributing to peace and security and justice. This project provides specific guidance for the implementation of SDG16 in the context of SSG/R. In addition, it contributes to the follow-up process by assessing States’ reporting in their VNRs relating to SSG/R.

    Implementation methodologies

    This project focuses on three different oversight actors of the security sector and covers the role of parliaments, civil society and independent oversight institutions in promoting SSG/R and SDG16. It consists of three different kinds of activities: 1. High-Level Events Multiple high-level policy events are organized each year to familiarize and influence policy makers with oversight bodies’ integral role within the 2030 Agenda, to sensitize oversight bodies with their role in the Agenda, and to contribute to the policy discourse. 2. National and Regional Workshops The project also organizes annual workshops to put the research and policy discussions into practice with a view of peer-sharing both North-South cooperation as well as South-South cooperation. 3. Research Products Furthermore, this project also creates various knowledge products to situate SSG/R in the context of SDG16 and the 2030 Agenda. These include (but are not limited to): • Research papers framing the role of SSG/R in relation to the 2030 Agenda and the respective oversight bodies; • Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) mapping studies which aim at reviewing VNRs to research: • To what extent do SSG/R and oversight bodies feature within VNRs? • What indicators are used in reporting on SDG16 and are they well-developed? • Which good practices can be identified? • Country case studies providing in-depth analysis of noteworthy oversight bodies. This includes addressing how the oversight body contributes to SDG16, how SDG16 is currently being reported on, and how reporting of SDG16 implementation may be improved through the development of additional indicators.


    Through the project, DCAF is bringing the issue of SSG/R to various high-level events on sustainable development each year, as well as bringing the issue of sustainable development to security sector actors. The project also brings together oversight actors both on a national and regional level, in particular policy makers in the development and security sectors. Initial results have indicated that security sector oversight actors have little understanding of how they can contribute to the achievement of SDG16 and sustainable development. However, by bringing them into broader discussions surrounding the 2030 Agenda, they have recognized their role, and taken initial steps to better align their work to the Agenda. However, as the project has only recently begun, it is premature to assess its impact conclusively. DCAF will continuously monitor the project’s results and impact, and adjust the project’s design accordingly.

    Factors and Constraints

    Historically, due to their traditional separation, actors in the development and security sector often operate independently and it has been difficult to foster exchanges between them. SDG16, however, has helped to provide a direct link between security and development issues and to communicate their interdependencies. As such, the framework of the 2030 Agenda and the large number of initiatives that derived from it offer a suitable forum to address these linkages and to highlight the importance of SSG/R for sustainable development and vice versa. However, SDG16 incorporates targets which are both complex to implement and to measure. It is important that they are not left aside for other short-term gains despite the time limitations in the 2030 Agenda.

    Sustainability and replicability

    While each country is facing unique challenges regarding its security sector, the project strives to foster mutual learning and the exchange of good practices through dialogue between academics, policy-makers and practitioners from around the world. The guidance developed through this project is validated through regional and national workshops to ensure its relevance for the process of localizing the SDGs. All developed material is freely available online and will be continuously used in DCAF’s extensive operational work after the end of the project.

    COVID-19 Impact

    The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for effective oversight of the security sector. Drastic measures have been taken to limit the spread of the virus. While quick and decisive action was essential in combating COVID-19, many of these measures have severely limited freedoms of all persons, and greatly affected the most vulnerable members of society. Therefore, ensuring that all states act in accordance with the rule of law, provide access to justice, combat corruption, respect fundamental freedoms, and have effective accountability mechanisms – all fundamental objectives of SDG16 – are highly important in the response to the pandemic and should be at the center of all efforts to build back better.

    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    01 January 2020 (start date)
    31 December 2023 (date of completion)
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