*This article was written by the Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership and originally appeared on the University of Pretoria’s EMS News Board.
Prof Christof Heyns and Prof Rachel Jewkes recently delivered public lectures on themes covered by Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, which focuses on promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies. The public lectures were organised by the South African SDG Hub, which is hosted by UP’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.
Prof Stephanie Burton, UP’s Vice-Principal for Research and Postgraduate Education, and Ambassador Martin Schäfer, German Ambassador to South Africa, opened the public lecture series. In his opening remarks, Ambassador Schäfer emphasised Germany’s willingness to support South Africa in realising the ambitious SDGs. He also expressed confidence that the partnership with the University of Pretoria can support the accelerated realisation of the SDGs in South Africa.
Prof Heyns, a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, former UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and former Director of UP’s Centre for Human Rights, delivered a lecture titled ‘Addressing violence in Africa: Global developments on the right to life’. He showed that violence globally is in decline, but warned that this decline is not intractable.
Addressing violence – one of the main threats to individual and collective well-being – requires a combination of violence reduction measures and human rights-based approaches. According to Prof Heyns, SDG 16 provides an ideal platform to do so.
Prof Jewkes, an A1-rated researcher, executive scientist in the office of the President of the South African Medical Research Council, and Consortium Director of the What Works Global Programme, discussed opportunities for eliminating violence against women and girls. Prof Jewkes highlighted the persistence of alarmingly high rates of violence against women.
She also shared good practices from effective evidence-based interventions. Truly effective interventions were shown to be based on a strong theory of change, are population appropriate, provide sufficient time for change and use critical reflection, skills building and experiential learning to drive behavioural change.
The South African SDG Hub is a national facility, supported by the Department of Science and Technology. It seeks to promote the evidence-informed implementation of the SDGs by creating linkages between researchers and policy makers.