Sustainable Development Goals

The Nordic Countries and SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

This data tracker looks at how the Nordic countries are progressing towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16, using the latest official data from the UN and the OECD.

Adopted in 2015 by all United Nations (UN) members, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a global agenda for making the world a better place by 2030. They are described by the UN as a ‘shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet‘, and goals are to be achieved by all countries, in global partnership, by 2030.

This data tracker uses the latest official data to look at how the Nordic countries are progressing towards achieving the 17 SDGs, with this page looking closer at Sustainable Development Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Each target is presented by first looking at global trends, before zooming in on the Nordic countries and assessing their performance. The assessment is based on work by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in analysing the progress made toward the SDGs in all OECD countries.

Target 16.1

Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere


16.1.1Number of victims of intentional homicide per 100,000 population, by sex and age
16.1.2Conflict-related deaths per 100,000 population, by sex, age and cause
16.1.3Proportion of population subjected to (a) physical violence, (b) psychological violence and (c) sexual violence in the previous 12 months
16.1.4Proportion of population that feel safe walking alone around the area they live after dark

Global trends

Global homicide rates (indicator 16.1.1) declined from 5.9 homicides per 100,000 population in 2015 to 5.6 in 2020. According to UN estimates there were approximately 437 000 homicide victims worldwide in 2020. Latin America and the Caribbean is the SDG region with the far highest homicide rates.

Conflict-related deaths (indicator 16.1.2) have declined significantly in recent years, standing at 4.1 per 100,000 population in 2021, 80% lower than in 2015.

There is insufficient data to assess global or regional trends on indicator 16.3.1.

As a measure of the feeling of safety, indicator 16.1.4 measures the share of the population who feel safe when walking alone after dark in the area they live. Approximately 7 out of 10 on average worldwide say they feel safe, a share which has remained unchanged over the last 6 years. The highest share of people feeling safe can be found in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (approx. 8 out of 10), with the lowest in Latin America and the Caribbean (approx. 4 out of 10).

Note that the regional groupings used in the visualisation above (and all other visualisations on this page with regional data) follow the UN regional classification for the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Nordics

Comparable country-level data for all the Nordics is available for indicator 16.1.1 (number of victims of homicides) and 16.1.4 (the share of people feeling safe walking alone at night where they live).

On the former, the OECD has operationalised the target at 3 per 100,000 population, which all the Nordics are below as of 2019 (the latest available data).

On the latter, the OECD has operationalised the target at 97% of the population feeling safe, with Norway the closest at 93% according to data from 2020. All the Nordic countries have increased their share of people feeling safe walking alone after dark where they live compared to 2006.

In its combined assessment of the indicators on target 16.1, complemented by OECD data on deaths from assaults, all the Nordics are assessed by the OECD as having made progress, but not sufficiently to reach the target set by 2030.

Target 16.2

End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children


16.2.1Proportion of children aged 1–17 years who experienced any physical punishment and/or psychological aggression by caregivers in the past month
16.2.2Number of victims of human trafficking per 100,000 population, by sex, age and form of exploitation
16.2.3Proportion of young women and men aged 18–29 years who experienced sexual violence by age 18

Global trends

Data for the indicators part of this target is sparse. Available data from UNICEF for 76 countries for the first indicator (16.2.1) shows that 8 in 10 children from 1 to 14 had been subject to some form of psychological aggression and/or physical punishment at home in the past month. The data is based on surveys conducted in the period between 2013-2021.

Data on the third indicator, also from UNICEF, shows that approximately 2.8% of women aged 18-29 years had experienced sexual violence in childhood. The estimate is based on data from 60 countries (only 12 countries collect data on men).

The Nordics

Insufficient data for assessment of progress in the Nordic countries.

Target 16.3

Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all


16.3.1Proportion of victims of violence in the previous 12 months who reported their victimization to competent authorities or other officially recognized conflict resolution mechanisms
16.3.2Unsentenced detainees as a proportion of overall prison population
16.3.3Proportion of the population who have experienced a dispute in the past two years and who accessed a formal or informal dispute resolution mechanism, by type of mechanism

Global trends

Data is only available at a global and regional level for indicator 16.3.2, and shows that around 30% of prisoners were unsentenced worldwide as of 2020. This share has been relatively stable over the past two decades. Central and Southern Asia had almost twice the world average, with almost 6 out of 10 of the prison population being unsentenced.

The Nordics

The share of unsentenced prisoners in terms of the overall prison population was higher in 2020 than the earliest available data from 2003 in all the Nordic countries. Denmark had the highest unsentenced share, with over a third of the prison population unsentenced.

Given the lack of data, the OECD uses the World Justice Project Civil Justice Index as a measure of progress for indicator 16.3.3. This is a composite index covering seven dimensions of civil justice: 1. People can access and afford civil justice; 2 Civil justice is free of discrimination; 3. Civil justice is free of corruption; 4. Civil justice is free of improper government influence; 5. Civil justice is not subject to unreasonable delay; 6. Civil justice is effectively enforced; and 7. Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are accessible, impartial and effective.

The Nordics (Iceland is not included in the index) have some of the highest index scores, indicating a high level of civil justice.

New data has been released since the OECD published its report in early 2022. The OECD assessment is therefore not shown.

Target 16.4

By 2030, significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organized crime


16.4.1Total value of inward and outward illicit financial flows (in current United States dollars)
16.4.2Proportion of seized, found or surrendered arms whose illicit origin or context has been traced or established by a competent authority in line with international instruments

Insufficient data available for analysis of global, regional or country-level trends.

Target 16.5

Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms


16.5.1Proportion of persons who had at least one contact with a public official and who paid a bribe to a public official, or were asked for a bribe by those public officials, during the previous 12 months
16.5.2Proportion of businesses that had at least one contact with a public official and that paid a bribe to a public official, or were asked for a bribe by those public officials during the previous 12 months

Global trends

Only indicator 16.5.2 has data at global and regional levels. Based on surveys undertaken between 2006-2021 in 145 countries, 16% of businesses report that have experienced at least one bribe request in the past 12 months. The highest share is in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia where almost 1 of 3 business report receiving such requests.

The Nordics

Insufficient data available for analysis of progress in the Nordic countries.

Target 16.6

Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels


16.6.1Primary government expenditures as a proportion of original approved budget, by sector (or by budget codes or similar)
16.6.2Proportion of population satisfied with their last experience of public services

Global trends

Insufficient data are available for analysis of global and regional trends.

The Nordics

Given the lack of data, the OECD includes a question from the Gallup World Poll on citizens' confidence in the judicial system in its assessment of OECD countries. Comparison between the earliest (2007) and latest (2021) available data shows that except from Denmark, all the Nordics are seeing increased citizen confidence shares. All countries are, however, above the OECD average (56% in 2021). Norway has the highest confidence level in the judicial system out of all OECD countries at 88%.

The OECD has operationalised the target at a level of confidence of 97% in the judicial system, which currently none of the Nordics is on track to achieve.

Target 16.7

Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels


16.7.1Proportions of positions in national and local institutions, including (a) the legislatures; (b) the public service; and (c) the judiciary, compared to national distributions, by sex, age, persons with disabilities and population groups
16.7.2Proportion of population who believe decision-making is inclusive and responsive, by sex, age, disability and population group

Global trends

Data for is partly available at the global and regional level for indicator 16.7.1, covering female and youth representation in national parliaments. The indicator is measured on a ratio for 0 to 1, where 1 indicates that the share of women/youth in parliament is equal to the share of women/youth in the national population as a whole.

Data for 2022 shows that women and youth are underepsesented in both upper and lower/single chambers worldwide. There are significant regional variations. Australia and New Zealand have achieved full female representation in upper chambers. Europe and Northern America have achieved full youth representation in lower/single chambers. Analysis of trends over time is limited as data is only available for 2021 and 2022.

The Nordics

All the Nordics have high representation rates of women and youth in national parliaments. Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden all have equal or above equal representation of youth in 2022. Only Iceland has below equal representation of youth, however Iceland is the only country to have equal representation of women.

Due to the limited amount of historical data, no assessment of trends over time is given by the OECD.

Target 16.8

Broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance


16.8.1Proportion of members and voting rights of developing countries in international organizations

Global trends

Note that this target is similar to 10.6.

The chart below shows the latest available data (mainly from 2019/2020/2021) on developing countries' share of voting rights and membership in different international organisations.

The largest discrepancies between membership share and voting rights are in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (part of the World Bank), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Finance Cooperation (IFC).

Over the past two decades, developing countries' share of voting rights, as well as membership shares have remained relatively stable. One notable exception is an increase in voting rights in the IMF from 31% in 2000 to 38% in 2020.

The Nordics

Target not applicable to measure for Nordic countries.

Target 16.9

By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration


16.9.1Proportion of children under 5 years of age whose births have been registered with a civil authority, by age

Global trends

75% of children under 5 worldwide have had their births registered, according to the lastest data from 2021. While many regions have achieved universal (or near universal) registration coverage, low registration levels persist in other regions. In Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa, only 27% and 45% of children under 5 have had their birth registered.

The Nordics

All the Nordics have full registration coverage for children under 5 years of age.

Target 16.10

Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements


16.10.1Number of verified cases of killing, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture of journalists, associated media personnel, trade unionists and human rights advocates in the previous 12 months
16.10.2Number of countries that adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information

Global trends

A total of 320 killings of human rights defenders, journalists and trade unionists were observed in 2021. The majority of killings occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, 9 cases of enforced disappearances of human rights defenders, journalists and trade unionists were observed in 2021.

Data for 2022 shows that a total of 127 countries had adopted and implemented constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information.

The Nordics

No country-level data is available.

Target 16.a

Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime


16.a.1Existence of independent national human rights institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles

Global trends

The share of countries in compliance with the Paris Principles has risen steadily over the past two decades. In 2021, 43% of countries worldwide were in compliance. Compliance rates vary significantly between regions, with only 8% of countries in Oceania and 29% of countries in Central and Southern Asia in compliance in 2021.

The Nordics

The latest data from 2021 shows that only Denmark, Finland and Norway have Human Rights institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles. Sweden is not fully compliant, while Iceland is listed with status D, an indication of no application for accreditation with the Paris Principles.

Target 16.b

Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development


16.b.1Proportion of population reporting having personally felt discriminated against or harassed in the previous 12 months on the basis of a ground of discrimination prohibited under international human rights law

No data is available for this indicator.

About the data

The data presented on global, regional, and national trends are from the UN SDG Global Database and the OECD unless otherwise stated.

The assessment of the Nordic countries is based on the findings from a recent OECD report, published in April 2022. The OECD uses a three-tier classification for each target:

  • Target is achieved or on track to being achieved
  • Progress has been made, but is insufficient to meet the target
  • No progress or moving away from the SDG target

In its assessment, the OECD looks at a country's current performance towards a target, and calculates a trend towards 2030 based on recent progress. As such, a country that is close to a target, but trending away from it, will be classified as having "No progress or moving away from the SDG target". Conversely, a country that is currently further away from the target, but trending towards it (and has a high likelihood of reaching it before 2030), will be classified as "Target is achieved or on track to being achieved".


  • First release September 2022
  • Data and text update December 2022

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