The proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now contain an innovative new goal focusing on promoting peaceful societies and building effective and accountable institutions. While these goals are being negotiated, it is worth asking whether this goal can help shape debates about development or whether we will look back on this in fifteen years as empty rhetoric. We argue that this governance goal has transformative potential on a number of fronts, including shaping the UN system, fragile states, and developed countries; but generating significant results will require the development of concrete and measurable indicators for peace and governance.