This report brings together the learning from a project undertaken from February 2017 to April 2018 to explore the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) as a vehicle for better linking human rights and sustaining peace. The aim of this project was to contribute to overcoming the fragmentation within the United Nations (UN) and promoting the value of integrated action between peacebuilding and human rights actors on the ground and in the UN system by using the UPR to explore present practice and untapped potential within a specific process. This report is intended to provide input to the discussions following the Secretary-General’s Report to the General Assembly on Sustaining Peace1 and to consideration of how to take this work forward in the UN.
Peacebuilding & Prevention of Violent Conflict
The 2018 QUNO Review provides a brief introduction to QUNO and our way of working, as well as an overview of our areas of work. Learn more about our past year of our work and see where we are headed in 2018.
The international community of Friends set up the Quaker UN offices 70 years ago to support the United Nations (UN) in its work to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.
Recent proposals from the new US administration and from the US Congress to reduce the country’s engagement with the UN could damage its ability to carry out its life-saving work. These proposals include draft Executive Orders and legislation in the House and Senate proposing significant funding cuts and other forms of disengagement with the UN. Building on such legislation, in March, the White House released a proposed budget for 2017 that calls for reductions in financial support to the UN budget and peacekeeping operations, and for the end of support of UN climate change programs.
Global military spending is $1.6 trillion, dwarfing the $8 billion UN peacekeeping budget and total UN-related spending of $48 billion. While the US is the largest financial contributor to the United Nations, its annual total contribution to the UN and its agencies represents only 0.1% of the total Federal Budget. Cuts in US funding would put at risk the UN’s important work to address the most critical and pressing issues facing the world.
While it remains to be seen if or how the various draft bills, draft Executive Orders, and proposed White House budget will move forward, the existence of such measures shows the growing uncertain environment facing the UN and global efforts for peace more broadly.
QUNO has produced the below background document, which will be updated as appropriate, to provide additional information and resources to learn more about this pressing issue.
QUNO New York's quarterly newsletter, featuring articles on:
- Peacebuilding orgs and future challenges
- Letter from the Director
- The role of civil society in conflict prevention
September 21 marks the International Day of Peace, which was established in 1981 by a unanimous resolution in the UN’s General Assembly. To mark the day, QUNO and 131 peacebuilding organizations from throughout the world issued a statement to United Nations Member States that brings attention to peace concerns.
As noted by QUNO NY’s Director, Andrew Tomlinson, “while international attention lurches from crisis to crisis, global peace-building organizations focus on long term work to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies. On the International Day of Peace, we encourage governments gathering in New York for the start of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly to join us in these efforts to sustainably address the root causes of violent conflict around the world.”
The statement calls for Member States to:
- Fully embrace the commitments to peace in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
- Balance national efforts with a focus on external drivers of peace, justice and inclusion
- Mainstream prevention, including in development, humanitarian action, and crisis response
- Protect and support civil society inclusion
"The human security approach is instrumental to sustainable development, inclusive peace, justice and the well-being and dignity of all people and it is, in fact, central to the 2030 Agenda" - UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohamed
QUNO New York's Director, Andrew Tomlinson, delivered a statement at the UN High-Level Event on "Human Security and its Contribution to Agenda 2030" held on 7 July in New York. Organised by the UN Human Security Unit in close collaboration with the Friends of Human Security, the event provided an opportunity for participants to share experiences and best practices on how human security contributes towards implementing the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals.
This high-level meeting was timely as the world currently faces multiple humanitarian crises, with over two million people displaced or living in conflict affected areas. The theme of the meeting emphasized resilient societies which are at the core of the 2030 agenda, promoting a world “free from poverty, hunger, disease and want”.
A number of UN actors and Member State representatives spoke on the panel, as well as Thera Boubacar from the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), a member of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC). QUNO also participated from the floor, as the only civil society organization formally requested to speak during the discussion. Mr. Tomlinson echoed the timeliness of the event, saying "agenda 2030, which all states have committed to, provides a roadmap, which is in line with the human security approach and supports resilience.” He took the opportunity to remind the room that the 2030 Agenda includes a commitment by all member states to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies and that the biggest challenge being faced is uneven implementation. Additionally, he brought attention to the continued challenge of the shrinking of space for civil society working to advance these agendas.
In his statement, he noted that "We are at a critical point where precedents and patterns are being set," and called for all stakeholders to urgently recommit to the peace mandate within the 2030 Agenda, which provides a clear road map by which humanitarian and development objectives can be achieved.
Our New York office is happy to share our most recent Newsletter, "In & Around the UN," featuring articles on our recent visit to the Middle East; QUNO's participation in the Women's March; reflections on Somali refugees, and more.
On 19 June, the Quaker UN Representative for the Prevention of Violent Conflict Program, Rachel Madenyika, made a statement on behalf of the Civil Society - UN Prevention Platform. The event was attended by the Member States, UN actors, and Civil Society representatives. The Quaker UN Office was the only civil society organisation formally asked to speak at this event, organized by the UNDP-DPA Joint Programme on Building National Capacities for Conflict Prevention (the Joint Programme), which works to develop and implement conflict prevention initiatives in 45 different countries.
On a recent visit to Beirut, Andrew Tomlinson, Director of QUNO New York, was invited to offer some reflections on reconciliation to a group of experts engaged in regional humanitarian and development action.
The presentation emphasized that reconciliation is a multi-generational process, that it is applicable wherever there are divided societies (at any level of development), that it has as much to do with prevention as it does with post conflict recovery, with the future as much as the past. Furthermore, while reconciliation is intimately connected with structural issues of inclusion and social justice in the longer term, at any one point in time the key is often to identify practical and realistic actions that, while consistent with the longer term ends, can move ahead irrespective of the ebb and flow of the larger political dynamics, and that such approaches can usefully combine the application of a restorative lens to a wide range of humanitarian, development, and commercial actions.
The March 2017 edition of our annual QUNO Review is now available for download. The annual report provides a brief introduction to QUNO and our way of working, as well as an overview of each of our programme areas. Learn more about our past year of our work and see where we are headed in 2017.
"If we are to faithfully work for peace, justice and inclusion, then we must ourselves act peacefully, justly and inclusively"
On 23 January, 2017, the QUNO New York Director was a speaker at the Third Annual Symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs, on the topic of "Just, Inclusive and Sustainable Peace".
Governments and other development actors made ground-breaking commitments to fostering peace under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: the challenge now lies in implementation.
The QUNO intervention set out what will be needed:
- Normatively, to stay focused on the core issues, the heart of sustainable peace
- At a local and national level, to uphold inclusive national planning, implementation and reporting
- At a global level, to foster external support for peace, justice and inclusion, and
- At home and in our own organizations, to reflect critically on our own processes and actions
Video of the presentation can be found here, starting at minute 28:25.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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