Towards world peace in 2030: SDG no. 16 Peace and Justice
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.


Bevorder vreedzame en inclusieve samenlevingen met het oog op duurzame ontwikkeling, verzeker toegang tot justitie voor iedereen en creëer op alle niveaus doeltreffende, verantwoordelijke en open instellingen

Recently I returned from a visit to Tel Aviv, Israel, where public peace negotiations were held between people from Israel and Palestinian territories (e.g. Hebron) at Rabin Square. For many Palestinians this was the first time that they saw Israelis who were not soldiers. They looked each other in the eyes and expressed their willingness to work to achieve peace. A young man was brave enough to tell the others that his brother was a suicide bomber, and said he chose for peace instead. While eating humus together, they also talked about the need for peace education and which state solution would work.

Sapir Handelman, who is chairman of the Board of Directors of Minds of Peace, set up the public peace negotiations. The mission of Minds of Peace is to: “create the social conditions for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by grassroots effort to involve the public in the peacemaking. We are working for the establishment of a major Israeli-Palestinian public negotiating congress with political power.” Terrence Hopmann (1995) indicated that diplomats are trained in the bargaining technique. The grassroots approach of Sapir Handelman is a problem-solving technique that addresses the needs and identities of the parties involved in the conflict. Generally speaking, a problem-solving technique leads to more sustainable peace.

Secondly, I believe that in order to achieve peace, local people and organizations should take the lead. The international community can empower them and mediate if necessary. To give another example, international peace organizations recently wrote a letter to the East African Community about the need to include Burundian women and youth in the peace negotiations in Burundi. Burundi has been on the brink of war for two years now. About nine hundred people have been killed, nearly 400,000 people have fled and one million people are highly food insecure. Another example of empowerment is that we are considering setting up a business event for Uganda. When people have a job and an income they are happier and they will be less likely to pick up a gun.

Third, the new media open new pathways to achieve peace. For instance, I can contact our partner organization, Peace One Day Mali, via Skype and schedule a Zoom videoconference together with a new partner peace organization in the United States. In addition, a lot of peace activists who should theoretically be enemies because their countries are in conflict, are active on Facebook, sharing things like inspiring peace songs such as ‘I’m your Hope’ from Sami Yusuf or ‘War’ by Kensington. An interesting side remark is that the latter is featuring gymnasts among whom is Olympic Gold medalist Epke Zonderland. The gymnasts are lifting heavy weights in the video. Here ‘peace’ is being associated with being fit, free and brave. This gives ‘peace’ a whole new image compared with flower power from the past

Another aspect is that social media makes it possible to show a video of large marches for peace, for example, Israelis and Palestinians or Muslims standing up for peace. These are items that traditional mainstream media do not show. One comment I have is that social media can be used by groups promoting violence as well as for those promoting peace. I would like to stress the need for peace journalism in the mainstream media (see e.g. Galtung, 1998). This means that the mainstream media should describe conflicts from different sides as well as paying attention to peace initiatives.

Fourth, new technology can contribute to peace. It is inspiring to listen to stories of trendwatchers such as Fountainheads and Marya Yaqin. At the launch of Peace SOS Marya Yaqin mentioned Bitnation positions itself as global governance 2.0. and is based upon blockchaintechnology. We are going to organize an event together with the Dutch Association for the United Nations, World Solar Fund, and Humanity House, in which Bitnation will address global governance and, for example, if it is possible to set up quick food supplies to areas which are highly food insecure. As is the case of social media, (new) technology can be used for both for good or bad. MaryaYaqin pointed out the possibility of printing out weapons at home using a 3-D printer.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the very tense and difficult relationship between peace and justice. Unfortunately, the situation in Syria is an example of this. People of the Syrian National Coalition were looking for democracy and justice for many years. As a result of the heavy bombings and many civilian causalities, they wanted President Assad to leave office. However, he was not motivated to do this because if he were to step down, he would probably lose everything and face prison or worse. Moreover, President Assad is supported by President Putin and Iran, who consider the people who were looking for a change of government to be ‘terrorists’. As we know President Assad is still in power and there are still negotiations going on about a political solution.

This leads to the questions of whether peace should be attempted first and justice second? Or does every conflict need a tailor made solution?

May-May Meijer

May-May Meijer

May-May Meijer strives towards a more peaceful, better and fairer world for all. That is why she founded Peace SOS. She works together with other passionate people and partners on this mission. She holds a Ph.D. in communication science of the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam. May-May also worked at the VU as an assistant professor. She published papers and reports in various disciplines, such as: communication, giving by individuals to international aid, the theme ‘international aid’ in manifesto’s, corporate social responsibility, higher education, public relations, advertising, corporate giving, corporate reputation and psychiatry.


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Galtung, J. (1998) Peace Journalism: What, why, who, how, when, where, paper presented in the workshop “ What are Journalists For?”, TRANSCEND, Taplow Court, Sept. 3-6

Terrence Hopmann, P. (November, 1995). Two Paradigms of Negotiation: Bargaining and Problem solving. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 542 Flexibility in International Negotiation and Mediation, 24-47.