SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
1. EU Programmes likely to be relevant for libraries
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Regulation (EU) 2016/679 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. This text includes the corrigendum published in the OJEU of 23 May 2018.
The regulation is an essential step to strengthen individuals' fundamental rights in the digital age and facilitate business by clarifying rules for companies and public bodies in the digital single market. A single law will also do away with the current fragmentation in different national systems and unnecessary administrative burdens.
Rights of the child
The rights of the child are part of human rights: rights that the EU and EU countries must respect, protect and fulfil. As laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a child is any human being below the age of 18. The Commission is guided by the principles set out in the UN Convention on the rights of the child, ratified by all EU countries.
Article 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union establishes the objective for the EU to promote protection of the rights of the child.
Action Plan against disinformation
Freedom of expression is a core value of the European Union enshrined in the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights and in the constitutions of Member States. Our open democratic societies depend on the ability of citizens to access a variety of verifiable information so that they can form a view on different political issues. Disinformation is understood as verifiably false or misleading information that is created, presented and disseminated for economic gain or to intentionally deceive the public, and may cause public harm.
Addressing disinformation requires political determination and unified action, mobilising all parts of governments (including counter-hybrid, cybersecurity, intelligence and strategic communication communities, data protection, electoral, law enforcement and media authorities). It requires close cooperation between Union institutions, Member States, civil society and the private sector, especially online platforms.
The coordinated response to disinformation presented in this Action Plan is based on four pillars:
(i) improving the capabilities of Union institutions to detect, analyse and expose disinformation;
(ii) strengthening coordinated and joint responses to disinformation;
(iii) mobilising private sector to tackle disinformation;
(iv) raising awareness and improving societal resilience.
Human dignity – International cooperation and development
The fight against torture and the abolition of the death penalty are two of the long-standing policy priorities of the European Union (EU) and are essential for the enhancement of human dignity. The EU is a leading institutional actor and donor in these areas.
The prevention and eradication of all forms of torture and ill-treatment worldwide represents one of the main objectives of the EU’s human rights policy
The EU holds a strong and principled position against the death penalty in all circumstances and for all cases.
Trafficking in human beings
Trafficking in human beings is a grave violation of fundamental human rights and an extremely pernicious and highly lucrative form of transnational organised crime. As such, it is prohibited by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 5.3), and defined by the TFEU as a particularly serious form of organised crime (Article 83), with links to immigration policy (Article 79).
The primary aims of the Secure Societies Challenge are: a) to enhance the resilience of our society against natural and man-made disasters; b) to fight crime and terrorism ranging from new forensic tools to protection against explosives; c) to improve border security; and d) to provide enhanced cyber-security, ranging from secure information sharing to new assurance models.
A EU High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance
Every day across Europe, many people are harassed, threatened or assaulted verbally or physically, or are victims of crime because of who they are, be it on grounds of their ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disabilities, social status or other characteristics. Hate speech and incitement to hatred and intolerance is also widespread in the public debate, including on online platforms, social media and chats. The High Level Group is intended as a platform to support EU and national efforts in ensuring effective implementation of relevant rules and in setting up effective policies to prevent and combat hate crime and hate speech. This is done by fostering thematic discussions on gaps, challenges and responses, promoting best practice exchange, developing guidance and strengthening cooperation and synergies between key stakeholders.
Economic, Social and Cultural rights
The indivisibility of civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights is a fundamental tenet of international human rights law, as illustrated by the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(link is external) (1948).
While the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provides a comprehensive overview of the various economic, social and cultural rights, it is important to note that these rights are also further described in other conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms against Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child(link is external) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to cite only a few.
The European Union uses a broad set of financial instruments (Global Public Goods and Challenges, civil society organisations and local authorities, European Instrument for Democracy and Human Right etc.) in partnership with Member States and many other donors to support actions and projects aimed at promoting and reinforcing economic social and cultural rights worldwide.
European societies are increasingly dependent on electronic networks and information systems. The evolution of information communication technology has also seen the development of criminal activity that threatens citizens, businesses, governments and critical infrastructures alike: cybercrime.
Civil justice cooperation
Civil justice cooperation refers to helping people and business resolve administrative or legal obstacles when exercising their rights to free movement in the EU. It covers both civil and commercial matters. Most of the time, this is about monetary claims between private parties and/or companies.
Often, civil justice cooperation is about family law monetary claims, but also divorce decisions and decisions on child custody. Judicial cooperation in the EU supports the free movement of persons.
The Directive on the right to family reunification establishes common rules for exercising the right to family reunification in 25 EU Member States (excluding the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark). It determines the conditions under which family reunification is granted, establishes procedural guarantees and provides rights for the family members concerned.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters was adopted on 25 June 1998 in the Danish city of Aarhus (Århus) (For recent up-dates and the follow-up process please have a look at the UNECE Convention website). The Aarhus Convention establishes a number of rights of the public (individuals and their associations) with regard to the environment.
The Convention provides for:
- the right of everyone to receive environmental information that is held by public authorities ("access to environmental information");
- the right to participate in environmental decision-making;
- the right to review procedures to challenge public decisions that have been made without respecting the two aforementioned rights or environmental law in general.
Corruption is the abuse of power for private gain. Corruption takes many forms, such as bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions, but can also hide behind nepotism, conflicts of interest, or revolving doors between the public and the private sectors. The Treaty on the Functioning of the EU recognises corruption as a "euro-crime". With the adoption of the Stockholm Programme, the Commission has been given a political mandate to measure efforts in the fight against corruption and to develop a comprehensive EU anti-corruption policy, in close cooperation with the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).
Empowering civil society in partner countries – International cooperation and development
An empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system and is an asset in itself. It represents and fosters pluralism and can contribute to more effective policies, equitable and European Researchconflict resolution. By articulating citizens' concerns, civil society organisations (CSOs) are active in the public arena, engaging in initiatives to further participatory democracy and governance.
The EU considers Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to include all non-State, not-for-profit structures, non-partisan and non-violent, through which people organise to pursue shared national, regional and international levels, they comprise urban and rural, formal and informal organisations.
Tackling discrimination at work
Laws for equal rights between women and men have existed since the very early days of the European Community. Since the 1970s a total of 13 pieces of legislation have been adopted with the aim of ensuring that women and men get fair and equal treatment at work.
These laws cover a range of areas including equal treatment when apply for a job, equal treatment at work, protection of pregnant workers and breastfeeding mothers, and rights to maternity leave and parental leave. Millions of women and men across Europe enjoy these rights every day – but few of them know that the European Union is behind these laws!
2. Library Policies and Best Practices
Especially in Northern Europe, libraries are considered by definition “meeting places” (in Norway it is officially inscribed in the law); they are usual venues for civic engagement and political debate. In general, libraries strive for an active and well-informed citizenry: “to engage libraries in taking care of people and their rights by encouraging democratic participation of citizens in society” is for instance a central mission of the EBLIDA strategy.
It is no surprise that SDG 16.10 Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements enjoys high popularity in European libraries. Fighting against discrimination also includes migration policies and literacy programmes for immigrants. A so-called Human Library concerning forced migration is organised within “the Madrid city library and 2030 Agenda”, in collaboration with public and NGO bodies dealing with migration. Public debate around environmental sustainability is organised in the Bibliotecas Municipales de La Coruña and the Biblioteca de la Universidad de las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The library network of Barcelona identified 16.6, 16.7 and 16.10 as its main drives for strategic development (the others being Targets 4.4, 4.5, 5.5, 8.3 and 8.9). See: Barcelona region libraries and 2030 Agenda.
Another important direction of 16.10 is unveiling fake news in the public debate. Populist and undemocratic parties, often encouraged by external states, use online disinformation to manipulate public opinion and amplify their agenda. Freedom of expression is hampered by hidden persuaders, who deliberately spread falsehoods to influence political events, put into discredit social groupings and cause harm to individuals. During the Covid-19 crisis, fake news amplified individual fears and put human beings in disarray. EBLIDA allied with NewsGuard – a company born to combat disinformation and misinformation – which evaluates websites in the United States and in the following European countries: France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. NewsGuard’s peculiar feature is that it works on website evaluation and examines the context of news, rather than its text. In line with the library concept of access to information, NewsGuard does not apply filtering systems intended to eliminate information, nor uses lexical or combinatory systems forcibly based on more or less biased algorithms.
3. Opportunities for library funding
This Chapter refers to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) 2021-2027, and in particular to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund+ (ESF).
In order to make the most out of these Funds, first refer to the ESIF managing authorities, which are different in every Member State and are responsible for national operational programmes and policies. The list of national authorities, country after country, and region after region, is available at the following link, https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/atlas/managing-authorities/.
In the Table(s) below, for each ESIF objective: Column 1 designates the ERDF or ESF+ specific objective. Column 2 and 3 set, respectively, the related outputs and results indicated by ESIF official documents. It can be easily inferred that European Commission criteria for evaluation are quite general and do not get into the detail of the programmes. It is up to Member States to set additional criteria for evaluation.
Finally, Column 4 lists examples of library projects set up to pursue ESIF objectives or to attain specific Sustainable Development Goals. ESIF-funded and SDG-oriented library projects are matched with specific ESIF 2021-2027 objectives and sub-objectives; what is shown in the table, however, is a simulation: under which presumed ESIF specific objective could SDG-oriented library projects have been funded, if they were to be presented within the ESIF 2021-2027 framework?
More detailed information on the Library Projects listed in Column 5 can be found in the Sustainable Development Goals and Libraries - First European Report.
4. Main Eurostat Indicators
Key trends in Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions in Europe show the following evidence (Eurostat Report, pp. 291 and ss):
- The EU has become a safer place to live;
- There is a fear of victimisation paradox, with objective and subjective measures of physical insecurity that do not match;
- Men are more likely to die from homicide, while women are more likely to be victims of physical or sexual violence in their homes;
- More than half of the EU population consider the justice system to be sufficiently independent;
- Younger and higher-educated people, as well as those who have not been to court, have a better perception of the justice system’s independence;
- EU Member States are among the least corrupt countries in the world;
- Globally, the CPI reports a high corruption burden in more than two-thirds of countries.
Goal 16’s attainment is monitored through the following main indicators: Source: EU SDG Indicator set 2020:
5. Library Indicators
Library Indicators enabling the evaluation of library performances and how they can match SDG indicators.
A report on Library indicators and SDGs has been released by the ELSA working Group: "Towards the implementation of SDG Indicators in European Libraries"
"Goal 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies"
The European Union has been one of the most successful peace projects in the world. Under the guidance of the Treaty of Rome (1 ), signed in 1957, the Union can look back on 60 years of peace, democracy and solidarity. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for advancing the causes of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe. Effective justice systems play a crucial role in upholding the rule of law and the EU’s fundamental values. At the EU level, a number of instruments and mechanisms are used by the Commission to promote and uphold the EU’s fundamental values, in particular the rule of law. Nevertheless, crime still remains a threat to European citizens, businesses, state institutions and to society as a whole. In particular, one of the biggest challenges for European societies is corruption, which compromises trust in democratic institutions and weakens the accountability of political leadership. The European Commission has been given a political mandate to monitor the fight against corruption and to develop a comprehensive EU anticorruption policy.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights brings together rights and freedoms under six dimensions: dignity, freedoms, equality, solidarity, citizens' rights and justice. The EU Cohesion Policy reinforces inclusive societies by building non-segregated infrastructure and community-based services. To ensure an effective EU response to terrorism and security threats, the European Agenda on security sets out the main actions envisaged over the period 2015-2020.
Targets and Indicators: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg16
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