The key findings on tracking the progress on SDG 16 using the Global State of Democracy Indices data are as follows:

  • Global progress on SDG 16 is facing significant challenges, although advances are also noted.
  • Globally, overall declines are noted on 13 GSoD aspects, overall gains on 3 aspects, and stagnation on 2 aspects, since the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was approved in 2015.
  • Africa has recorded considerable gains, particularly around Personal Integrity and Security, Absence of Corruption, and Social Group Equality. Serious challenges remain, especially on GSoD aspects related to targets 7 and 10 of SDG 16.
  • The Middle East has recorded very few consequential gains such as some progress on Access to Justice. It remains the region with the lowest performance on SDG 16 targets overall.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean has made some progress on Effective Parliament, Judicial Independence, and Absence of Corruption. However, on most other aspects, particularly those related to targets 7 and 10, there is overall decline.
  • North America (Canada and the United States) has noted overall stagnation or decline in all GSoD aspects, although from generally high or mid-range levels of performance.
  • Asia and the Pacific has made considerable progress on GSoD aspects of Absence of Corruption, Access to Justice, Effective Parliament and Clean Elections. Most declines are noted under aspects related to target 16.10.
  • Europe has recorded more gains than declines on Electoral Participation, but more declines than gains on targets 1, 3, 6, 7 and 10 of SDG 16.
  • The COVID-19 global crisis is resulting in numerous cases of potential or de facto infringements of civil liberties (Freedom of Movement, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Association and Assembly, Personal Integrity and Security), as well as Clean Elections. This is bound to have debilitating effects on SDG 16 targets going forward. The importance of SDG 16 as an enabler for the entire 2030 Agenda, in conjunction with setbacks on most other SDG goals and targets due to the effects of the pandemic, will have serious implications for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

In November 2017, International IDEA launched the first edition of a new biennial report, The Global State of Democracy. The report provided evidence-based analysis and data on the global and regional state of democracy.

This GSoD In Focus showcases progress on SDG 16 derived from the GSoD Indices, which now covers a total of 158 countries for the period 1975–2019.


Publication date
17 September 2020
Number of pages


1. Introduction and methodology

2. GSoD Indices and SDG 16. A fusion of a vision of democracy

3. Analysis of GSoD data

4. Conclusion


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Monitoring achievements on Sustainable Development Goal 16 2015-2019: a Global State of Democracy Indices perspective

GSoD In Focus No. 11
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