Our New York office's quarterly Newsletter, featuring articles on the new UN Secretary General, integrating human rights and sustaining peace, the new global framework for peace and more.
In honour of the International Day of Peace, QUNO and peacebuilding organisations from around the world have issued a shared statement to UN member states on the importance of embracing the new global framework for peace.
Over the last year, states have made significant new commitments to addressing the root causes of conflict and displacement, in both the 2030 Agenda and the Sustaining Peace resolutions. The statement calls on governments to embrace this new mandate and to mainstream peace policy, implement peace at home, foster peace around the world, support funding for peace and to protect and support civil society inclusion.
FWCC/QUNO submitted a written statement to the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at its 31st session. The statement, submitted on September 22, 2016, calls upon the IGC and those who take part in it to encourage the participation of small-scale farmers, whether or not they identify themselves as Indigenous.
Read the statement by following the link below.
On September 30, 2016, QUNO submitted a contribution to Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, John Knox’s upcoming report on biodiversity and human rights. In its contribution, QUNO focuses on the application of a human rights approach to agricultural biodiversity and calls upon Mr. Knox to consider including agricultural biodiversity in his report to be released in March 2017.
Read the contribution by following the link below.
A "Quaker Statement on Climate Change" has been signed by a large number of Quaker organizations, having been distributed to all Yearly Meetings across the world. The Statement recognizes the personal and collective responsibility to respond to anthropogenic climate change and calls for fair, sufficient and effective international action.
Read it by following the document link below.
This report looks at how human rights obligations can help support policies which lead to more successful and just efforts to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions due to human activities. The report examines the relationship between human rights and climate change as conceptualized at the United Nations, and explores how human rights can be used to secure greater emissions reductions while also achieving climate justice.
In this issue:
- Can recent international attention on the issue of nuclear disarmament lead to any meaningful action?
- Climate science in simple, personal and ethical terms
- Forgotten victims: children of parents sentenced to death or executed
- Highlights from QUNO New York
Here we explore the potential for a Declaration on Access to Seed to be drafted, following the example of the Declaration on Access to Medicines. Here ‘access to seed’ refers to the freedom to experiment with, save, re-use and sell seed. These activities are fundamental to the active conservation and further development of agricultural biodiversity
on the farm, and integral to the concept of Farmers’ Rights (described in Article 9 on the International Treaty). A declaration would be instrumental in mainstreaming these activities within international fora relating to trade and intellectual property rights, which have put stricter conditions on farmers’ access to seed incrementally over the past two decades.
Three key lessons from looking at public health and access to medicines:
- The significance of global public opinion in shaping negotiations, as well as the value of coalition-building amongst states, NGOs and the media.
- The imperative that national governments make creative use of TRIPS flexibilities.
- The is an urgent need for sustained, productive collaboration between relevant multilateral institutions. Collaboration between the FAO, WTO, WIPO and others to clarify the complicated governance structure for plant genetic resources and ensure farmers’ continued access to seed is required.
On July 20, 2016, QUNO co-hosted a policy forum discussion with the International Peace Institute in New York , along with the governments of Finland, Germany, Mexico and Morocco, entitled "Ensuring that no one is left behind: A High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Refugees", during the ministerial segment of the High Level Political Forum. At a time when the world is experiencing the largest movements of peoples in recorded history, the goal of the event was to connect the dots between the 2030 Agenda and the upcoming UN Summit in September that will address large movements of refugees and migrants.
Current UN discussions on displaced persons are fragmented, with separate silos for issues of refugees, migrants and internally displaced people, each with their own normative framing, organizational context and political sensitivities. The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development provides a new framing, using the mandate for peaceful, just and inclusive societies, and the imperative to "leave no-one behind", to address the needs and perspectives of all those who have been forced to leave their homes, whether from violence and conflict, climate change, or economic necessity.
This document includes a summary and recommendations from an informal discussion organized by the New York Peacebuilding Group between member states, UN experts, and civil society actors at Quaker House in New York focused on the implementation of the joint General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on the UN's Peacebuilding Architecture.
This document summarizes the remarks made by QUNO during the 2016 annual session of the UN's Peacebuilding Commission, which focused on Transitions as a challenge to consolidating peace and security: The role of the PBC in diplomacy and political accompaniment.
The relationship between intellectual property (IP) and small-scale farmer innovation is far from straightforward. The majority of innovation in agriculture is not driven by the promise of exclusionary rights that some IP tools afford — it takes place on the farm and is a collaborative and incremental process, the outcomes of which cannot be attributed to individual rights holders.
However some IP tools – when carefully selected and adapted to suit domestic circumstances – may have the potential to help drive small-scale farmer innovation or, at minimum, allow the space for it to occur unimpeded.
This paper discusses how alternative or sui generis plant variety protection systems, collective and certification trademarks, and geographical indications may encourage on-farm innovation.
On the other hand, IP tools that are more conventionally believed to incentivise innovation in agriculture (i.e. patents, UPOV-style plant variety protection systems, and less commonly trade secrets) have the potential to impede on-farm innovation.
Policy makers at the national level should take into account the value of small-scale farmer innovation for national and global food security when developing national food security strategies, and take advantage of the flexibilities allowed under the WTO TRIPS Agreement when implementing IP legislation that reflects the realities of domestic agricultural sectors.
QUNO New York is excited to share our most recent Newsletter, "In & Around the UN," featuring the following articles by our staff:
- What's Next in Peacebuilding?
- Letter from the New York Director
- Pastor Elie's Visit to New York
- Putting Prevention Back on the UN's Agenda
- Updates from the Geneva Office
- Closer Cooperation between the UN and Regional and Sub-regional Organizations
- QUNO-AFSC Bring the Perspectives of Chinese Scholars to the UN
- Celebrating the Work of Quakers at the UN
Countries / Regions:
This paper contributes to our understanding of how various intellectual property tools may affect small-scale farmers’ livelihoods, incentives to conserve agricultural biodiversity and recognize and reward farmers for their innovative capacity.
The relationship between intellectual property (IP) and small-scale farmer innovation is far from straightforward. The majority of innovation in agriculture has always and continues to happen on the farm, in a collaborative and incremental process — the outcomes of which cannot easily be attributed to individual rights holders. It is not driven by the promise of exclusionary rights that some IP tools afford. However some IP tools – when carefully selected and adapted to suit domestic circumstances – may have the potential to help drive small-scale farmer innovation or, at minimum, allow the space for it to occur unimpeded.
This paper discusses how alternative or sui generis plant variety protection systems, collective and certification trademarks, and geographical indications may encourage on-farm innovation; and how IP tools that are more conventionally believed to incentivize innovation in agriculture (i.e. patents, UPOV-style plant variety protection systems and less commonly, trade secrets) have the potential to impede on-farm innovation.
Policy makers at the national level should take into account the value of small-scale farmer innovation when developing national IP legislation to meet international obligations.
In February 2016, QUNO Geneva and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) hosted an expert meeting on integrating human rights, peacebuilding and prevention of violent conflict within the United Nations systems.
The meeting addressed the following questions:
- What advantages would it bring for UN work on peace and security to draw on existing human rights resources to increase effectiveness in peacebuilding and prevention of violent conflict?
- What have been the consequences of the failure to work on the links between human rights and sustaining peace?
- What are the pragmatic steps that could be taken within existing resources in UN institutions that would increase effectiveness, particularly of prevention of violent conflict?
This discussion took place in advance of the UN High-Level Debate on International Peace and Security, held in New York on 10-11 May 2016. The two-page briefing handout included below summarises the key points which were raised at the meeting.
The history and dynamics of the access to medicines debate provide a number of reflections for those concerned with protecting farmers’ access to seeds. Taking the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health as its point of departure, this paper explores implications for interested parties at the international and national levels, as well as for multilateral institutions themselves.
Three lessons stand out in particular.
- The process that led to the Declaration highlights the significance of global public opinion in shaping negotiations, as well as the value of combining this with pragmatic coalition-building amongst states, NGOs and the media.
- Domestically, national governments should make creative use of TRIPS flexibilities. This has been done to bring down the cost of medicines in numerous countries and should be emulated by governments wishing to protect farmers’ seed systems, which rely on experimentation, storage, exchange and re-use of seeds. ‘Access’ in this paper is taken to encompass these activities, rather than simply referring to the availability of new varieties developed by commercial breeders.
- There is an urgent need for sustained, productive collaboration between relevant multilateral institutions. Collaboration between the WHO, WTO and WIPO on access to medicines has facilitated a broader consideration of innovation. Similar engagement is necessary between the FAO, WTO, WIPO and others to clarify the complicated governance structure for plant genetic resources and ensure farmers’ continued access to seed.
Freely available for download below under Creative Commons license.
Representative for Climate Change, Lindsey Fielder Cook, reflects on the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Over the course of three years leading up to COP21, QUNO engaged in quiet diplomacy at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), offering delegates a more 'human' space in what could seem at times like an inhuman environment.
The report, available below, offers insight into this process, thoughts on the Agreement itself and a vision for what might lie ahead.
The most critical work begins now.
On April 26, 2016, Andrew Tomlinson gave the 2016 Holley Lecture in Applied Ethics at Bloomfield College, New Jersey, entitled "Every country my country, and every man my brother: Values and transformation in international policy settings".
The QUNO New York Director made the point that values can provide an effective and legitimate approach to international policy work, that progress is often made through engaging with the inconsistencies in the values that people hold, and that that fostering values-based change requires us to develop different strategies that (for us) include listening, reaching out, making connections to real peoples’ lives and creating safe spaces for new ideas to emerge.
Review of the activities of QUNO in 2015
In the midst of UN discussions on the Secretary-General's recent Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE), QUNO co-hosted the launch of three reports by Saferworld on counter-terrorism, stabilisation and statebuilding in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen. A packed room of Member States, UN officials, think tanks and NGOs engaged with multiple panels of speakers, including experts on PVE and the regions concerned, as well as UN representatives.
These are QUNO's remarks.
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