SDG 16 highlights the need for peaceful societies, access to justice and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Its realization is essential for achieving all SDGs, for fulfilling the aim of leaving no one behind and enabling the protection and promotion of all human rights. In 2023, the Global Peace Index (Institute for Economics and Peace, 2023) noted a slight improvement in peacefulness in the Asia-Pacific region—taken to include East, Southeast and North Asia and the Pacific countries. Scores worsened for six countries in this region, driven chiefly by increased internal armed conflict, while 13 countries recorded improvements. An analysis by Freedom House revealed a nominal improvement in political and civil liberties in the Asia-Pacific region (Freedom House, 2023). Improvements likely stemmed from prodemocracy and pro-reform movements in some countries, relatively free and fair PROMOTE JUST, PEACEFUL AND INCLUSIVE SOCIETIES I. SUMMARY CURRENT STATUS elections, and eased pandemic-related restrictions. However, severe restrictions on civic and political space and fundamental freedoms, including threats and attacks on media and human rights defenders, persisted in the region, alongside profound human rights and humanitarian crises (OHCHR, 2022). Transnational organized crime syndicates in Southeast Asia are expanding in scale and complexity, undermining the region's security and stability. Traditional threats like trafficking and corruption continue alongside emerging issues like trafficking in persons for forced criminality.
The profile for SDG 16 was developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with inputs from the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).