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Teaching Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

“…with peace and justice for all.”

This famous phrase is one that all adults, and many children, in the U.S. know and value. Everyone has the right to live a life free from violence and oppression. Sadly, these things continue to threaten children and adults around the world – including in the United States.

Providing peace and justice to citizens of all nations is a major challenge. There are many obstacles to overcome, and education is the first step. The United Nations has made this area one of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 16) and seeks to work with educators to reduce the dangers of violence and corruption across the globe.

Why is it important to teach peace, justice and strong institutions?

Peace and justice are the cornerstones of a lawful society and human rights, but not everyone has equal access to them. Additionally, it is likely that these rights are taken for granted by many students across the country today, which can exacerbate the problem.

Corruption, bribery and theft are still big problems in developing countries. In these countries, the rule of law is not as protective as many U.S. students are used to. This results in a lack of justice and protection for people in those countries. Children around the world are the victims of violence, trafficking and homicide as a direct result of weak institutions. Under-reporting of violence and a lack of data, such as universal birth registration, are factors that threaten citizens around the globe.

It is important for students to understand the existence of these threats and their impact. They should be aware of the values and institutions of democracy and how they serve to protect us. It is vital for students to know the dangers created by corrupt institutions. There is still work to be done to guarantee justice and peace for all.

How can this Sustainable Development Goal form part of a teaching program?

SDG 16 brings political and legal discourse into the classroom. It relates to the shape of society today, and how it could change in the future. This goal also touches on a variety of subjects including sociology, politics, history, and law, all of which are vital areas for helping students understand how the world works and how it can be improved.

Teachers are encouraged to place this SDG at the forefront of students’ minds when discussing an array of relevant topics in the classroom. Doing so will help students to appreciate not only the importance of peace, justice and the institutions that uphold them but also the issues surrounding access to them.

Topics that this SDG emphasizes include:

  • The importance of transparency in the judiciary process.
  • The role equal opportunities need to play in laws and policies.
  • The impact regulation can have on tackling inequality.
  • How legislation protects our democracy.

These are all highly-relevant subjects in modern society, that form part of the national and international discourse as well as the curriculum. Teachers will help to empower their students by ensuring these topics are discussed with the wider context of SDG 16 in mind.

Peace and justice as a cornerstone of global citizenship

Teaching this SDG will highlight the inequalities faced by some cultures around the world. It will show students that overcoming injustice is at the heart of bringing peace to all. It will also illustrate the power that strong institutions have to enforce positive change.

These values are at the core of becoming a global citizen. They encourage a wider interest in the world and other communities, and the challenges that they may face. Teaching these issues can highlight some of the inequalities that students may not recognize. Students will recognize that they themselves have the power to influence and strengthen these institutions and make the world a better place.

Participate Learning has created a powerful global citizenship framework to serve as the resource educators need to nurture global citizenship among their students. This framework helps teachers enrich lesson plans by focussing discussions on the issues surrounding peace and justice on a global scale.

There are complex international challenges to providing peace and justice to all citizens. Students should be aware of these challenges, and how institutions and regulation can both strengthen and weaken the protection citizens receive around the globe. Through teaching and the use of our global citizenship framework, educators can inspire and empower students to bring about the change needed for a more peaceful world.

Learn more about teaching the SDGs by reading this blog post or by joining our SDG community.