Timeline

October 2017

QUNO co-hosts a Food Security and Sustaining Peace side-event at the World Committee on Food Security

QUNO co-hosted a side-event “Contributing to sustaining peace and conflict prevention: perspectives from agriculture, food security and nutrition” at the World Committee on Food Security (CFS) on 9 October.  Other co-hosts were the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme and the Netherlands. The standing-room-only attendance of over 70 indicated people’s broad interest in the the nexus between peace and food and nutrition security.  Nora Meier, who just finished her position as a Programme Assistant in QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Programme is now a consultant to FAO in an FAO-QUNO research project on the role of farmers’ seeds systems in sustaining peace. Nora presented her hypothesis and initial findings and noted that she would welcome input from the expertise at the CFS. After a lively discussion, delegates stayed to offer further information and encouragement to Nora and to Food & Sustainability Representative, Susan Bragdon.

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October 2017

QUNO co-hosts a side-event on irregular migration

The OHCHR, IFRC and QUNO together with the governments of Mexico, Switzerland, the Philippines and Portugal held a panel discussion during the last thematic consultation on the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. 

Focusing on the rights that irregular migrants have to essential services such as healthcare, education and housing, the panelists presented examples of initiatives and programmes that have helped irregular migrants fulfill this right in a practical and meaningful way.  These positive examples highlighted how the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration should also be drafted to facilitate greater access to essential services for migrants regardless of their status. 

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September 2017

The New York Declaration and Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, one year on - NGO briefing to Member States - Tuesday, 19 September 2017

On 19 and 20 September 2016, UN Member States made important commitments for refugees and migrants through signing the New York Declaration.  Exactly one year on, QUNO’s Laurel Townhead (Human Rights and Refugees Representative) joined other NGO representatives in an open briefing to member states to assess the achievements of the Declaration and the processes underway to deliver on the commitments made.

Organised by ICVA, the event focused on how the two global compacts that the Declaration called for can be drafted to produce effective agreements.  Laurel focused on the global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration, expanding on our call for this to be ambitious, effective and human rights based. An ambitious global compact would result in more being done to protect the rights of migrants and help shift the narrative about migration as a problem or a danger.

An effective global compact would recognize the existing human rights standards and contain actionable commitments based on these standards and follow up mechanisms that further their implementation.  (See our paper on follow up and accountability mechanisms; http://www.quno.org/resource/2017/6/towards-human-rights-based-global-co...

A human rights based global compact would be built on the existing legal framework in international human rights law and have improving human rights protection as its principle aim. See the key messages on human rights from a civil society group; http://www.quno.org/timeline/2017/4/civil-society-key-messages-human-rig...

Laurel finished by noting that whilst this will not be an easy negotiation there are domestic constituencies around the world who are offering alternatives to hate and distrust and who expect more and better from their governments. 

The event was well attended by diplomats and NGOs and presented a valuable opportunity for dialogue around the global compacts, reiterating the need for the international community to approach this issue with a sense of urgency.    

QUNO also delivered a statement with a similar message at the Human Rights Council on Monday 18 September (see below).

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September 2017

Blog: 5 Things to know about U.S. budget cuts to the United Nations

Below are excerpts from a blog, “5 Things to know about U.S. budget cuts to the United Nations,” written by QUNO’s UN Representative for Peacebuilding and featured on the American Friends Service Committee’s blog.

This month, heads of state and government from throughout the world will descend on the United Nations for the opening of the 72nd session of the U.N. General Assembly. This year’s theme is “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.” And it’s certainly critical now given the range of global challenges we face, including an unprecedented level of humanitarian need, rising inequality and exclusion, growing climate change impacts, and increasing threats to our shared security. 

[…]

Despite the impact of the U.N., and the vital contributions made by the United States, there are growing concerns that the U.S. will reduce support and funding of the U.N. Amid broader proposals for deep cuts in U.S. support for human needs and other non-military spending domestically and internationally, a range of proposals have advanced from Congress and the White House to severely cut the U.N. budget. 

[…]

So, what are the key things to be aware of when it comes to the United States and its relationship with and support of the U.N.? And how can you show your support for the United Nations? 

Read the full blog here.

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September 2017

Civil Society UN Prevention Platform hosts Under Secretary General and Special Advisor on Policy, Ms. Ana Maria Menéndez's first meeting with civil society

On 8 October, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform hosted a meeting between civil society and the newly appointed Under-Secretary General and Special Advisor on Policy, Ms. Ana Maria Menéndez. The Civil Society Prevention Platform, established in 2016, aims to enhance UN and civil society collaboration. As co-facilitator of the Civil Society Prevention Platform, QUNO hosted this off-the-record event in Quaker House. 

The event was Ms. Menéndez’s first meeting with a network of civil society actors in her newly appointed role. Providing an opportunity for open and constructive dialogue on how civil society can better interact to contribute to the UN’s work on prevention, this event offered an exciting opportunity for civil society members to better engage with the Executive Office of the Secretary General. 

The Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform sees great potential in growing and developing this relationship - there is an interest and demand within civil society for this enhanced relationship with the UN. We are delighted with the positive response from Ms. Menéndez's office to engage more deeply and meaningfully with civil society. Our Platform stands ready to assist in whatever way possible to nurture and grow this partnership.

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September 2017

Peacebuilding during times of transitions: Perspectives from Liberia

On 6 September, QUNO welcomed Abel Learwellie, Executive Director of Camp for Peace Liberia, to lead a discussion on peacebuilding during times of transition with UN and member state representatives, and civil society colleagues. The conversation was timely as Liberia is soon to experience many changes, including elections in October of this year and the drawdown of United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Mr. Learwellie has been active in the field of peacebuilding in Liberia for over 18 years, and his organization envisions a country where youth are empowered, self-sufficient, employed, and actively contributing to the strengthening and stabilization of Liberia. The meeting provided an opportunity for discussion on the upcoming transitions, challenges that remain for building sustainable peace, and examples of how Camp for Peace Liberia’s local level peacebuilding initiatives have helped support reconciliation in Liberia.

During the conversation, participants reflected challenges facing the country, such as the issue of mistrust between the security sector and civilians, a challenge remaining from experiences during the civil war; the lack of educational opportunities, both academic and vocational; and high levels of youth unemployment. Discussion also focused on the positive impacts of work to address these issues by actors such as the UN, the government of Liberia, and civil society, including Camp for Peace Liberia. In an effort to address such challenges, Camp for Peace Liberia implements a range of programs, including the War Affected Youth (WAY) program, which works to reintegrate former child soldiers and ex-combatants though vocational training, and the Non-Violence and Peace Education program, that gathers youth to participate in workshops focused on non-violent communication and mitigation. 

Colleagues also raised the importance of national ownership and inclusivity as key for building upon the peacebuilding work led in the country. It was shared that critical to supporting sustainable peace will be implementing inclusive peacebuilding work processes that are owned and led by communities. QUNO looks forward to continuing to work with Mr. Learwellie and the UN community in promoting inclusive peacebuilding approaches.

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September 2017

One Year Later: The New York Declaration and Leaders’ Summit on Refugees

On 19 and 20 September 2016, UN Member States made important commitments for refugees and migrants.  Exactly a year later, QUNO will join other NGOs in this open briefing to member states, organized by IVCA, to look back on those commitments and analyse the achievements so far and processes underway to deliver on those promises.

The briefing will cover both the global compacts called for in the New York Declaration and QUNO's Laurel Townhead (Human Rights and Refugees Representative) will speak about progress towards an ambitious, effective, human rights based global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration.

Further details for the event can be found below, and further information on QUNO's work on the global compact on migration be found here: http://www.quno.org/areas-of-work/refugees-and-migrants    

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September 2017

Implementing the New Commitments to Peace - Statement by 131 peacebuilding organizations

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

Additionally, QUNO and the American Friends Service Committee distributed a press release on the statement, which was shared widely with media contacts covering the United Nations.

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September 2017

QUNO attends 46th Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Lindsey Fielder Cook

Under the Friends World Committee for Consultation, QUNO is now an accredited observer of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This official observer status enables us to nominate authors and engage in the development of IPCC Reports, which provide decision makers worldwide with the most extensive collection of climate science research.

QUNO prioritizes inclusion of research on climate justice and sustainable behavior/economic systems in addressing the root causes of anthropogenic climate change. During the 46th Session of the IPCC, held in Montreal Canada from 6-10 September, QUNO encouraged research on the role of lifestyle/behavior/consumption change, sustainable economies in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.

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September 2017

QUNO Geneva welcomes a new Peace and Disarmament Representative

Florence Foster

After an international selection process, Florence Foster has been appointed Representative, Peace and Disarmament beginning 1 September.  Florence obtained her Masters degree in International Relations from Bristol University, UK, and has since specialized in displacement and conflict analysis, with an increasing emphasis on disarmament, mediation and conflict transformation. She began her career as an intern at the Global Protection Cluster and the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva.  She then moved onto focusing on West African conflict dynamics during her time at the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, with work in Côte d’Ivoire and Mali. Through her latest roles as Programme Manager at the Fondation Suisse de Déminage and Finn Church Aid, Florence led mediation and armed violence reduction initiatives in the Central African Republic.

We extend a warm welcome to Florence, while also bidding a fond farewell to Diane Hendrick, who successfully led QUNO's work in this area since January 2012, maintaining its core values and taking it in new directions. Diane has decided to return to her homebase in Austria, but we are fortunate that she arranged a smooth hand-over to Florence as Representative. 

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September 2017

Key Messages for a Human Rights Based Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration must be grounded in international human rights law.

This is the central message of a new paper produced by a group of Geneva-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are interested in a human rights-based response to migration at the UN level. QUNO convenes this informal group of NGOs, with a particular focus on ensuring a human rights basis to this new international agreement on migration, which is due to be adopted in 2018.

The full document is attached below.

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August 2017

The global compact for safe orderly and regular migration & the global compact for refugees: Share your experiences

The processes to towards two new international agreements, ‘global compacts’, on refugees and migrants are now well underway and as part of the consultation phases, anyone is welcome to submit written information relevant to with or both of the global compacts.

We are aware that many Friends are involved in activities on these issues, but we do not have the full breadth and depth, so we encourage you to share your experiences of your work with refugees and migrants.

The attached short document explains how you can submit information to the global compacts, and what sort of information would be most useful.

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August 2017

Statement at the High Level Political Forum in New York in July 2017

From July 10-19, 2017, the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) took place in New York. The HLPF is the United Nations central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The theme of this year’s HLPF was ‘Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World’ and included the review of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14, and 17.

At the HLPF session on the review of SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), Susan H. Bragdon, QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Programme Representative, made a statement on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Cluster of the NGO Major Working Group. The latter is one of nine sectors of society working as main channels to facilitate broad participation in UN activities related to sustainable development. 

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August 2017

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Sustaining Peace: Developing New Insights into Peacebuilding

A successful and ground-breaking two-day symposium took place at Lancaster University Law School in the UK on 5th and 6th July 2017. This was the second event of a collaborative project between the Quaker UN Office (QUNO), Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and Dr Amanda Cahill-Ripley of Lancaster University Law School, which aims to enhance knowledge and understanding of the role of economic, social and cultural rights (ECSR) in sustaining peace.

Diane Hendrick from QUNO Geneva introduced the event as one of the co-organisers, and Rachel Madenyika, from QUNO New York, made a presentation on Sustaining Peace: a view from the UN in New York. This event built on a previous workshop held in Geneva in February 2017, which brought together academics and representatives of peacebuilding and human rights organisations to identify the intersections between ESCR and peacebuilding in theory, policy, and practice.  The purpose of this symposium was to provide an opportunity for a wider group of academics and practitioners to present their research and experiences in relevant areas, to further enrich the debate and build upon the initial discussions.

The symposium brought together participants from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, international NGOs such as the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, swisspeace, Christian Aid Ireland and International Alert, as well as academics from University of Edinburgh, Madrid, University of Nottingham, University of Manchester, Coventry University Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, An-Najah National University, the Transitional Justice Institute and the University of Ulster, to discuss their academic, practitioner and policy insights on a theme or experiences related to the central topic of “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Sustaining Peace”. 

The event generated a sense of excitement and possibility with specific ideas for enriching planned or existing peacebuilding projects with economic, social and cultural rights elements and the wish to take this work forward drawing in more collaborators from the international and national policy level as well as practitioners and academics with a view to increasing both peacebuilding and human rights approaches in these areas.

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July 2017

QUNO participation at YMG 2017 in Warwick

QUNO was excited to join Friends at Yearly Meeting Gathering (YMG) 2017 in Warwick. YMG is a week-long event held every three years by Quakers in Britain, that brings together Quakers, friends and families for an exciting week of community and movement-building. QUNO was represented at YMG by Lindsey Fielder Cook, Andrew Tomlinson, Laurel Townhead and Jonathan Woolley, and participated in four workshops, as well as both nights of the Groups Fair. 

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July 2017

QUNO NY Director delivers a statement during the UN High-Level event on Human Security and its contribution to the 2030 Agenda

"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. 

Mr. Tomlinson’s oral statement can be found at 1:56:09

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July 2017

Call for inputs to UN report on human rights of migrants

At the Human Rights Council in June, a resolution was passed mandating a new report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights related to the human rights of migrants. 

The report will be an important input to the developing a global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration, particularly to ensure that this new international agreement on migration is human rights based.

Information to this 'compendium of principles, good practices and policies on safe, orderly and regular migration in line with international human rights law' can be sent by any interested stakeholder.

Send all information by 24 July 2017 to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Further details are in the note verbale attached.

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July 2017

QUNO advocates for inclusive approaches to peacebuilding funding at PBC annual session

QUNO was one of four civil society organizations that participated in the UN Peacebuilding Commission’s (PBC) annual session held on 30 June 2017, on the topic of “Partnerships for Financing for Peace”. The session’s focus was timely as adequate financing and partnerships are critical areas for peacebuilding efforts. Official development assistance to conflict affected countries is often insufficient, unevenly distributed, and short term. Additionally, funding during transitions from conflict to peace needs to be maintained to sustain peace and build resilience – a key area where the UN aims to make improvements. The PBC’s session provided a platform to reflect on lessons learned and key policy gaps in financing and partnerships for peacebuilding, and provided the opportunity to discuss options and innovative solutions to address challenges.

It was against this backdrop that the PBC convened a wide range of strategic stakeholders from within and outside the UN, including international financial institutions, regional bodies, member states, civil society and the private sector. The day included panel discussions and interactive sessions, which provided opportunities for participants to share their views, experience, and questions.

QUNO was asked to assist with the coordination of civil society participation in the event, and was pleased that this support allowed for four organizations to lend their voices to the discussions. QUNO New York Director, Andrew Tomlinson, contributed actively in the interactive discussions alongside Saferworld, the International Peace Institute (IPI) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). We were also pleased to see our partners at the Alliance for Peacebuilding featured during one of the panel sessions.

In the first session, on good practices to ensure sustainable financing, discussions centered on the need to find better ways to coordinate action between stakeholders in fragile contexts, and on finding innovative funding options. QUNO noted that effective use of existing funding needs to be made by “ensuring all humanitarian and development action is deployed in such a way as to support – or at worst not work against – the commitment to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies and sustaining peace”. For example, many UN programs still do not mainstream conflict sensitive approaches into their programming, and this is a key area where the UN can improve the effective use of existing funds to sustain peace. 

The second session was on the topic of redefining partnerships and the potential for increased collaboration to mobilize resources for peace. The importance of inclusion and non-financial resources were highlighted, especially relating to the role women and youth play in sustaining peace. Mr. Tomlinson remarked on the need to make peacebuilding funding more effective by piloting longer term funding cycles for peacebuilding projects, by scaling up peacebuilding efforts to regional and national levels, and by making peacebuilding projects more inclusive. 

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July 2017

New Publication on Reinvigorating the Public Sector: The Case of Food Security, Small-Scale Farmers, Trade and Intellectual Property Rules

In this recently published paper in the Society for International Development (2017), QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Representative Susan H. Bragdon explores the two interlinked trends of using market-based solutions to end hunger and the weakening of the public sector in ensuring local and global food security. She argues that both of these phenomena play an important role in the creation of a modern food system that is harming the health of people and planet. Therefore, she calls upon governments to define and assert their appropriate roles in the protecting the public interest in food security and emphasizes the need for a revitalized public sector. 

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July 2017

QUNO participates in Dialogue and Exchange Program on the role of youth in prevention

“…children and young women and men are critical agents of change and will find in the new goals a platform to channel their infinite capacities for activism into the creation of a better world.” – 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

QUNO’s UN Representative for peacebuilding, Megan Schmidt, participated in a Dialogue and Exchange Program (DEP) on the role of young people in the prevention of electoral violence, held in Nairobi, Kenya from 29 June to 1 July. This DEP, organized by a range of peacebuilding organizations working throughout Africa, including the American Friends Service Committee’s Nairobi-based office, brought together over 100 young people from 16 countries in Africa to discuss how youth contribute to prevention and peace. Among the DEP’s goals were to connect youth across the continent, equip them through strengthening knowledge and skills for fostering peace, and acknowledge the dynamic work participants are carrying out in their countries.

Through panel and interactive sessions, participants reflected on a range of issues including drivers of conflict, triggers for radicalization and policies for preventing extremism, and available peace frameworks, including UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. QUNO staff delivered a presentation on the 2030 Agenda as a peace tool for young peacebuilders, reflecting on what it is, why the Agenda matters for youth, and how young leaders can take the 2030 Agenda forward. During the panel discussion and conversations throughout the day, QUNO staff had the opportunity to learn more about the rich work carried out by participants in their countries, including on domestic efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda, and initiatives to strengthen good governance and political inclusivity, and peace education.

The DEP closed following a Peace Awards ceremony, with winners being acknowledged for their work to impact peacebuilding in their countries and continent, the holding of a concert for peace, and the convening of a sports for peace event that brought together over 300 young people. The participants also agreed to develop the African Youth Peace Network, an online platform to connect youth working for peace, and adopted a declaration that conveys the mission and goals of the Network. QUNO looks forward to seeing this network develop, and working with the diverse and dynamic young peace leaders in their efforts to promote peaceful, just, and inclusive societies in their countries and on their continent.

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