By Vincent Lyn

SDG 16.2 — End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children


The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal set of goals, targets and indicators that U.N member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies, beginning in 2015 to be accomplished by 2030. When you look at the above list of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Goals(SDGs), and the specific targets for each goal, it may look a little daunting. From eradicating poverty and zero hunger, to gender equality and climate action, you may wonder if it’s even possible to achieve these goals? Additionally there are many subsets for many of the SDG’s. As an example:

SDG 16: Peace Justice And Strong Institutions.

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Target 16.1 — Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere.

Target 16.2 — End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.

Target 16.3 — Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.

Target 16.4 — By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime.

Target 16.5 — Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms.

Target 16.6 — Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels.

Target 16.7 — Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.

Target 16.8 — Broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of governance within the region.

Target 16.9 — By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration.

Target 16.10 — Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.

Target 16a — Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime.

Target 16b — Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development.

Which brings me to SDG 16.2 - End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children. As much as I want to be open-minded and would love to believe this would magically disappear and be eradicated by 2030, I seriously have my doubts and whomever thinks otherwise is not being very pragmatic. I’m not trying to be a downer, but in my vast experience traveling the world on countless humanitarian assignments, rescue & recovery missions and witnessing all forms of abuse and violence perpetrated against children. I honestly do not have the greatest of faith in mankind. As much as I believe that human beings are basically good at heart, my personal experiences have led me to see otherwise.

It’s great to talk about how much one wants to change the world and come up with great ideas. But, please show me how you’re going to achieve it and then go out and do it. I’ve been privy to countless meetings, sitting around beautiful oak wood conference tables in comfy over-stuffed arm chairs and business types foaming at the mouth about what needs to be done. I don’t have any patience for that. As the saying goes “actions speaks louder than words” either you talk the talk and walk the walk and if not then Shut-Up! It seems either most of the world is walking around with blinders on or they just care to look the other way and act like these problems don’t really exist.

What I find interesting is that SDG #1 ‘No Poverty’ being at the top of the list and primarily the most important to help achieve all the others. I wrote an article on ‘Child Poverty in America’ that I’ve included. It makes me wonder, if one can’t even achieve zero poverty in one of the richest countries in the world how on earth are you able to eradicate it in third world nations? Am I missing something here? I’m open to discussion if anyone has the answers? But let me not digress.

For the 1.2 billion people who live in fragile and conflict-affected countries, these targets are long overdue. That would be an understatement. As the World Bank notes, ‘poverty is increasingly concentrated in countries affected by conflict’. In other words, the global effort to lift people out of poverty cannot be achieved without a stronger focus on peace building. Time will tell whether governments will seize this moment to invest in local peace-building capacity as a way of helping to reach the SDG16 targets. Redoubling their efforts in the coming years to hold governments to the commitments they are making this so that by 2030 the world our children inherit will be a more peaceful, equitable and prosperous world than the one we see today.

How is anyone country, leader, political party going to hold governments accountable to their commitments? Once again, am I missing something? Please tell me if I’m wrong…. There’s no doubt that countries should be held accountable for their actions and if they are not stepping up to the plate then they they should be banned from certain rights of being a member of the United Nations or removed from the security council, until they double down on their commitments. This should also apply to the five permanent members of the security council — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America— collectively known as the P5. Any one of them can veto a resolution as they so readily do. They should also be held accountable for their actions of which there are many. Who is going to hold the United States accountable for the continued abuses against the Native American and indigenous peoples of America, or the continued aggression and proxy wars perpetrated by the U.S all over the world? Or China, and its continued atrocities committed against 3 million Uyghurs whom are recognized as native to the Xinjian Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China.

Think of how many nations mishandled COVID-19 as a great example. If we look to the United States and the United Kingdom who completely mismanaged the pandemic from day one. Then they should be banned from being a Permanent Member to the United Nations and lets allow countries like New Zealand or Taiwan to take control. They are considered the Gold Standard when it comes to the handling of COVID-19 not only from a leadership stand point but from society as a whole making the much needed sacrifices and working together as a nation. I mean, I doubt they could do any worse than the P5. It seems to me that the entire United Nations charter needs to be completely revamped.

Accountability is a double-edged sword, or perhaps better stated as a delicate balance. To have a weak central government that is highly influenceable by outside actors makes it susceptible to manipulation and corruption. However with no outside influence or oversight, powerful centralized governments are susceptible to corruption by their power and acting against the interests of their citizens. Too much in either direction leads to the harm of the citizens and delegitimization of the government. The same can apply on the international scale and the agreements between nations. Currently the P5 act (almost) completely without oversight. They have nothing to lose if they act against the interests of the international community. Perhaps it is time rethink their status as “permanent members” of the security council.

However at its heart, power, legitimacy and lawfulness is about consent. Or you could say it is a matter of honor. Laws only work if we agree to obey them. If everyone decides against laws and a government then it is only a matter of time before they crumble. Again this easily translates to international law — the U.N only has the power that all nations of the world agree to give it. By flaunting its resolutions nations undermine its power and effectiveness and this applies to every nation from Canada to Brazil to Russia. Failing to follow its governance is not just an infringement of international law but challenge to U.N legitimacy. Which brings us back to the SDGs. They aren’t some magic formula and 2030 isn’t some magic year of fruition. These are ideals each nation must put clearly in their sights and strive for — even so-called “developed” and “wealthy” nations. They are goals that will make our world a better place for everyone, and it is the responsibility of everyone to make them happen. We have to grant legitimacy to global governance that works for the good of the whole planet.

Vincent Lyn

CEO/Founder at We Can Save Children

Director of Creative Development

Economic & Social Council at United Nations

Middle East Correspondent at Wall Street News Agency

Rescue & Recovery Specialist at International Confederation of Police & Security Experts



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Vincent Lyn

CEO-We Can Save Children. Director Creative Development-African Views Organization, ECOSOC at United Nations. International Human Rights Commission (IHRC)