C20 - Civil Society Communique and Declaration on Peace, Human Rights and Democratic Governance: Towards Improvement of Civic Space for the SDG 16+

Fundamental transformation is needed to make the world more equal, democratic, peaceful, and sustainable.

Almost 10 years to go to 2030 and with the current model of economic development already identified as unsustainable, our world is facing a critical implementation gap between promises and actions and tremendous challenges that stand in the way of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The problems are so grave that multilateralism and democratic pluralism are in danger. The environmental crisis has sharply accelerated and economic development is not happening for too many people while inequality has reached dramatic levels, putting basic human rights at threat. With a handful of individual billionaires as wealthy as half of humanity, the growing imbalance exacerbates key issues such as corruption and illicit financial flows, unsustainable debt levels, high risks towards another financial crisis, lack of access to basic infrastructure, goods and services, unfair labour practices, an unbearable gender gap, discrimination against marginalised groups, and inequitable access to education, health, digitalisation and technology. As the flagship multilateral forum for sustainable economic development, G20 members must take an active role to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

In this context, G20 countries must ensure adequate financing for the 2030 Agenda with substantial financial support for developing countries. These financing mechanisms should prioritise domestic resources mobilisation by changing the current global tax system, fulfilling the ODA commitment, and agreeing on an exhaustive debt sustainability criterion. G20 must put in place measures to prevent the world from another financial crisis.

Globally shared problems need globally shared solutions. The international system needs profound reforms, so that it benefits not just a few but everyone. Multilateralism needs to be preserved, to address common challenges and common problems that necessarily need solutions based on sustainability, justice and democratic participation including the civic space as an equal and relevant stakeholder with an important role in creating healthy and peaceful societies. World leaders must come together to develop concrete and effective solutions to globally shared problems.

Genuine democratic and participatory approaches should be sought to “leave no one behind”. In that regard, human rights and the “leaving no one behind” principle should be put at the forefront, both in decision- making and actions in order to ensure inclusive growth. Those who are often marginalised, least heard and least visible, including women, LGBTQI, disabled, indigenous peoples, and descent-based communities, ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, refugees and IDPs, immigrants, and the aged, should be able to voice their concerns together with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and have the capacity to hold governments to account. Continued shrinking spaces for democratic action would only have a negative impact. Criminalisation in the face of dissent or protest that puts young people particularly at risk in many countries weakens societies as a whole. It is vital that all G20 leaders preserve and improve conditions for CSOs to continue their work so that policies can take peoples’ voices into account, within the G20 as well as in other spaces and multilateral institutions. More than ever, participation and transparency in decision-making should be a priority for the G20.

Speeches and commitments should be translated into concrete, timely and realistic actions, and be accountable, responsive and resolute in addressing global challenges. Civil society across the world is keen to continue its dialogue with G20 leaders in order to find shared solutions to shared challenges and to jointly work for a more inclusive and better world. G20 has much to benefit from civil society capacity in reaching the most vulnerable and forgotten parts of societies. We, more than 400 CSOs from around the world working within the Civil20 (C20), urge the G20 to implement their commitments. It is time to turn promises into actions.

Tokyo Declaration on Peace, Human Rights and Democratic Governance: Towards Improvement of Civic Space for the SDG 16+
Adopted at Tokyo Democracy Forum (TDF), as part of the C20 Summit in Tokyo, Japan on 21 April 2019 The participants of the Tokyo Democracy Forum, which was held on the first day of the 2019 C20 Summit,

1. Recalling the Busan Declaration on Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies in Asia and Beyond on 24 January 2018 and the Ulaanbaatar Declaration on Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies in Asia and Beyond (SDG 16+) on 28 February 2019;

2. Welcoming the participation of more than 200 civil society members from across the world, including the countries and area in the Group of Twenty (G20);

3. Expressing our deep appreciation to the organisers of the TDF, namely, the Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies (PSCD), Asia Democracy Network (ADN) and Asia Development Alliance (ADA), and the supporters of the TDF, namely, the Government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (FES);

4. Reaffirming the importance and gravity of the UN General Assembly document (A/70/L.1) “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, which outlines 17 Goals and 169 targets to stimulate actions until 2030 in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet;

5. Reaffirming that the principles of the UN 2030 Agenda are embedded in such phrases as “we are determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence”, “we envisage a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non- discrimination”, “[s]ustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security; and peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development” and “no one will be left behind”;

6. Concerned about continuing conflicts and humanitarian crises, the dreadful violation of human rights, erosion of the rule of law, denial of access to justice, and deteriorating democratic governance;

7. Concerned about increasing restrictions on civic space and human rights, including freedom of speech, expression, association and assembly (especially in Asia); increasing financial and security constraints on civil society organisations; attacks on human rights defenders; gender inequality and discrimination against LGBTQI people; corruption and the undermining of democratic governance; risks associated with technological disruption (especially in the fields of artificial intelligence and bioengineering), which may negatively impacts on civil society; and the abuse, exploitation, trafficking, torture and all forms of violence against children;

8. Declare that SDG 16 is an enabler and accelerator for all SDGs, and commit to work with all governments (especially those in the G20) and other official G20 engagement groups to ensure the full achievement of SDG 16 and its 12 targets to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels;

9. Submit the following recommendations, as a part of the 2019 C20 Communiqué, to the 2019 G20 Osaka Summit scheduled on 28-29 June 2019.

A) G20 governments must consider and implement all previous and current C20 recommendations within a specific time frame.
B) G20 governments must do all within their power to make SDG 16 a permanent, global and cross-cutting priority goal at the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, and review it on an annual basis, as is done with SDG 17.
C) Regarding civic space in Asia, G20 governments must recognise that CSOs are indispensable and independent actors in their own right, that a diversity of voices from civil society enriches policy-making, and that legal and policy frameworks regulating CSOs must enable diverse and free operation rather than restrict or control them. Relevant governments must also create meaningful partnerships with civil society (providing financial and other support as required) and respect internationally agreed human rights standards (including freedom of association, assembly, expression and the right to operate independently without government interference).
D) Regarding gender and sexuality, G20 governments must develop and implement comprehensive plans to achieve SDG 5, which will contribute to the fulfillment of SDG 16. In doing this, they must ensure women are engaged in all aspects of peace processes and support them to lead, participate and benefit equally from governance systems; introduce and implement laws to eliminate discrimination and gender-based violence against women and LGBTQI people (including sexual and other violence in the context of conflict); provide public services that fully meet women’s and LGBTQI people’s needs; and ensure gender-responsive reform of justice and security institutions.
E) Regarding corruption and democratic governance, G20 governments must recognise that a social system and practice lacking transparency and civic participation combined with inequality is what causes corruption; they must establish and strengthen adequate legislative, administrative and social measures to increase accountability and integrity, engaging with stakeholders including civil society and vulnerable people who are suffering due to corruption. As a cross boundary issue, global collaboration is a key and G20 governments must work across borders to combat corruption.
F) Regarding financial and security constraints on CSOs, G20 governments must: ensure that financial laws and practices facilitate the establishment and operation of CSOs; evaluate the legal and regulatory environment to enable CSOs and human rights defenders to freely carry out their legitimate work; and collaborate with global mechanisms, including the Financial Action Task Force and the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, and civil society partners, to study and mitigate the negative impact of bank de-risking on non-profit organisations.
G) Regarding science, technology and civil society, G20 governments must establish an inter-governmental process with universal and inclusive membership to regulate the development of science and technology (especially artificial intelligence). They must also engage with stakeholders at the national level to design transitional policy in this context, which includes re-training workers, upgrading educational curricula, promoting the increased participation of women and girls in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) courses and professions, and supporting new forms of digital ownership (such as platform cooperatives, which provide a safe, accountable space for users and workers to provide and use data to collectively share the benefits of digitalisation).
H) Regarding violence against children, G20 governments must recognise that all forms of violence against children are unacceptable and that this is clearly set out in the 2030 Agenda as a fundamental principle of    a peaceful, just and democratic society in SDG 16, as well as article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of  the Child, which provides that States should “take all appropriate legislative administrative and social and educational measures to protect the child”. G20 governments must thus show leadership in addressing common challenges through focused actions to put an end to violence against children (e.g. by prohibiting corporal punishment in all settings and promoting a children’s rights-based approach to child caregiving).


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