Timeline

June 2016

QUNO contributes to PBC annual session

QUNO New York Director Andrew Tomlinson was one of a small number of civil society representatives who took part in the third annual session of the UN's Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). The focus of this year's annual session was Transitions as a challenge to consolidating peace and security: The role of the PBC in diplomacy and political accompaniment. QUNO made interventions in both of the interactive working sessions, which have been compiled in a document entitled Transitions, Inclusion and Opportunities in the new UN Peacebuilding Landscape.

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June 2016

QUNO co-hosts event on women in conflict with the law

During the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, QUNO co-hosted a side event on the issue of the human rights of women in conflict with the law. Co-organised with Penal Reform International (PRI) and the Permanent Missions of Canada and Denmark, the event took place on 15 June at the Palais des Nations. The panel discussion was moderated by QUNO's Representative for Human Rights and Refugees, Laurel Townhead. For further information on this event, including details of all speakers, please see the flyer attached below.

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June 2016

QUNO signs joint Quaker statement on TTIP

Five Quaker organisations from Europe and the United States have asked governments to say ‘no’ to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the controversial ‘mega’ trade deal being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.  

It is the first time that Quaker organisations, working on both sides of the Atlantic, have spoken out together against such a trade treaty.

American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Quaker Council for European Affairs, Quaker United Nations Office and Quaker Peace & Social Witness, have sent a statement to Prime Minister David Cameron, government representatives and trade officials. They said that TTIP negotiations are prioritising the prospect of short-term economic gain over the longer-term factors necessary to human wellbeing and protection of the Earth.

The statement comes in the context of building opposition to TTIP, as controversial, confidential negotiation documents were leaked into the public domain and the French government has warned that it is considering blocking the deal.

TTIP is set to include a so-called Investor to State Dispute Settlement mechanism or Investment Court System, under which foreign companies could sue governments for introducing social, environmental, health or other legislation believed to threaten profitability.  The Quakers assert that these mechanisms hand too much power to large companies, making them “fundamentally antidemocratic in nature and therefore unacceptable”.

Read the full statement here.

Photo: GotCredit/Flickr

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June 2016

QUNO hosts discussion on strengthening the UN-AU partnership

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QUNO organized an informal discussion at Quaker House between African Union expert Dr. Cedric de Coning, civil society, UN staff and Member States. This meeting, during which Dr. de Coning provided his perspective on the state of the relationship between the UN and the African Union (AU), was a follow-up to a recent open debate in the Security Council on UN-AU cooperation for greater peace and security. The discussion was an opportunity for New York-based actors to gain insight into the inner workings of the AU and think of ways to enhance UN-AU cooperation from UN headquarters.

Improving the relationship between the UN and the AU has been a priority for the UN system over the past year, as a result of a recommendation from the recent UN report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) that calls for greater cooperation between these two institutions. As part of the Prevention of Violent Conflict program, QUNO has been honing into this recommendation, with a focus on building relationships between relevant UN actors engaged with the AU, including African Member States. This meeting was the first in a series of meetings that will take place in the informal setting of Quaker House and will bring UN, AU and African sub-regional organizations together to discuss issues of shared concern.

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June 2016

In & Around the UN: New Newsletter from our New York office

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

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May 2016

QUNO and International Treaty host consultation on Farmers' Rights

In conjunction with the secretariat of the International Treaty (ITPGRFA), QUNO hosted a small, focused consultation examining progress and challenges in domestic implementation of Article 9 - the section on Farmers' Rights.

Acknowledging the enormous contribution of farmers and local or indigenous communities to the development and maintenance of crop diversity, Article 9 recommends that countries take a number of measures to ensure this continues:

·         Protection of traditional knowledge

·         Equitable participation in sharing benefits of plant genetic resources' utilisation

·         Participation in decision making

·         Farmers' right to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed (subject to national law and as appropriate).

The consultation, held on May 28th at Quaker House Geneva, brought together representatives from state delegations, research institutions and civil society for a half day of rich discussion and experience-sharing. An outcome document is currently being prepared, to feed into the Global Consultation on Farmers' Rights being held in September in Bali, Indonesia.

Photo credit: IITA/Flickr

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May 2016

Peacebuilding organizations in "Peace Promise" to address conflict drivers of humanitarian need

As the World Humanitarian Summit opens in Istanbul, peacebuilding organizations, including civil society, UN agencies and the World Bank, have issued a series of commitments - known as the "Peace Promise" - to more effective synergies among peace, humanitarian and development actions in complex humanitarian situations, with the aim of reducing human suffering by addressing the drivers of conflict and vulnerability.

In consultation with QUNO, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), as an operational agency, was one of 25 organizations to sign on. 

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May 2016

QUNO presents at WIPO seminar on intellectual property and genetic resources

On 27th May, QUNO's Susan Bragdon (Representative, Food & Sustainability), addressed state delegates and civil society at a seminar on intellectual property and genetic resources, hosted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva.

Her talk laid out the legal landscape for the governance of genetic resources and explained some of the complexities and inconsistencies that currently exist, with a particular focus on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

Countries across the world are interdependent on plant genetic resources for fulfilling their food security objectives, but there is a fundamental tension between the international legal architecture and communities on the ground. Susan's talk emphasised the importance of greater inclusivity and coordination between treaty bodies, as well as the need to better account for the needs of small-scale farmers, who play a key role in the maintenance and preservation of genetic resources.

By highlighting Sustainable Development Goal 2: "End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture", Susan offered a uniting objective that countries could use to help reconcile those treaties' disparate provisions.

You can watch the talk here by selecting 'Seminar on intellectual property and genetic resources'. Susan's talk begins at around 13mins in.

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May 2016

QUNO organizes events at the international climate change negotiations in Bonn

QUNO was again present at the international climate change negotiations (SB44), recently held in Bonn, Germany from 16-26 May. Our Human Impact of Climate Change programme held two quiet diplomacy dinners in which negotiators from a diverse group of 23 countries discussed, in an off-the-record setting, their hopes and concerns following adoption of the Paris Agreement in December 2015. We also sponsored a side event in which a panel representing NGO, Climate Scientist and UNFCCC negotiator voices, spoke about the role of ethics and human behavior in climate change action.

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May 2016

QUNO attends European conference on children of prisoners

From 20-22 May, QUNO attended the annual meeting of Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE), the European network of organizations working for the rights of children of incarcerated parents, held in Zagreb, Croatia.

The meeting allowed the sharing of experiences from across Europe, and discussion of new developments, policy concerns and good practice in this area.

A public conference on Friday 20 May, hosted in conjunction with the office of the Croatian Ombudsman for Children, brought together speakers from a range of institutions, including the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as many organizations working directly with prisoners and their families.  

QUNO's Daniel Cullen (Programme Assistant, Human Rights and Refugees) exhibited a conference poster at the event, which outlined the international standards relating to the children of incarcerated parents, highlighting how the Human Rights Council and Committee on the Rights of the Child have sought to address the issue in the past. 

During the COPE general assembly on Saturday 21 May, QUNO's application for full membership was formally accepted. For further information about the work of the network and its members, please visit the COPE website here

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May 2016

QUNO speaks at side event to UN debate on Peace and Security

In May the UN held a High-Level Thematic Debate on Peace and Security. QUNO representative Camilla Campisi participated as a panel speaker in a side event to the debate organised by the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and International IDEA. The event focused on how enhanced cooperation with civil society and regional organisations can help the UN fulfill its purpose on peace and security.

QUNO shared findings and recommendations from the report co-authored with GPPAC last year on civil society engagement with the UN's Peacebuilding Architecture (PBA). QUNO stressed how this is a significant moment for the UN to focus on peacebuilding and the prevention of violent conflict, particularly given the recent joint Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on the PBA, and how civil society must be a part of this work. The UN's Peacebuilding Commission must improve its transparency to be more accessible and create strategic partnerships where civil society can be a part of the full process. Civil society should also contribute to conflict analyses carried out by the UN, which would provide a broader understanding of the local context and what types of peacebuilding approaches are needed. 

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May 2016

Bringing member states together around the peaceful societies' agenda

In July, the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development will take place at the UN in New York. The HLPF will be the primary UN platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in September 2015. Twenty-two countries will undergo National Reviews during the HLPF, which will examine the processes they have undertaken to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a national level. 

In collaboration with the International Peace Institute (IPI), QUNO is working on a project to support member states involved in the upcoming HLPF, specifically in regards to the peaceful, just and inclusive societies' component of the 2030 Agenda. In adopting the SDGs, member states agreed that peace is a necessary precondition for sustainable development, with good governance, inclusive institutions and participatory decision-making of essential importance. 

QUNO and IPI brought together experts from among this group of 22 states at Quaker House, providing them with the opportunity to hear from one another and share insights and strategies on how they plan on integrating the peace components of the 2030 Agenda in their first national review. This informal, off-the-record meeting allowed for insightful updates on the process of implementing the SDGs at a national level--insights that are often absent in high-level policy discussions within the UN system. 

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April 2016

2016 Holley Lecture in Applied Ethics

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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April 2016

Bringing the perspectives of Chinese scholars to the UN

In April, AFSC and QUNO collaborated to bring three Chinese scholars and UN experts to the UN. During their short but productive trip, they presented their research on UN peace operations and shared their perspectives on three recent major UN reviews to a variety of Member States, UN officials, think tanks and other civil society actors in New York. China is becoming increasingly involved in supporting UN peace operations and peacebuilding in conflict-affected and post-conflict states, especially in Africa. Discussion on the three UN reviews remains at the forefront of the UN’s agenda and QUNO believes it is crucial to bring a diversity of voices and perspectives to this process. By bringing these scholars to the UN, QUNO and AFSC hope to have contributed to this effort and provided the space for frank and open dialogue about China’s involvement in peace operations. 

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April 2016

QUNO participation at the 31st session of the Human Rights Council

The 31st session of the Human Rights Council (29 February to 24 March) provided new opportunities for QUNO to raise issues relevant to several areas of ongoing concern, such as the human impacts of climate change, criminal justice reform and the rights of children of incarcerated parents.

QUNO followed the negotiation of a number of thematic resolutions - including those on the rights of minorities, human rights and the environment, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and the freedom of religion or belief - and delivered oral statements during several debates and discussions. Full details of each of these statements, including links to video recordings, are available here.

QUNO’s Peace and Disarmament programme also organised a well-attended side event during the session, hosting a panel discussion on environmental rights and the prevention of destructive conflict, further information on which is available here.

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April 2016

The Paris Climate Change Agreement: the most critical work begins now

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.

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April 2016

Research paper: Access to seeds: lessons from the access to medicines debate

Access to seeds.jpg

This new research paper considers what lessons the access to medicines debate provides 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.

Key messages include: 

1) The importance of public opinion and pragmatic coalition-building in raising the political capital to deal with sensitive negotiating topics;

2) The need for national governments to use TRIPS flexibilities in the same way that many already have for safeguarding access to medicines;

3) The urgent need for sustained, productive collaboration between relevant multilateral institutions to clarify the governance structure for plant genetic resources. By doing so they can help ensure farmers' continued freedom to experiment with, store, exchange and re-use seed - essential practices for maintaining biodiversity and achieving food security.

The paper, prepared by QUNO Programme Assistant Patrick Endall (Food & Sustainability, Climate Change) is available here, or by clicking on the link below.

All QUNO work is published under a Creative Commons license.

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April 2016

Quaker statement on drug policy and human rights issued

Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) has issued a new Quaker statement on drug policy and human rights in advance of a major General Assembly meeting next week. 

The UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem will take place in New York between 19-21 April 2016.  

Building on a history of Quaker work on drug policy reform and criminal justice issues, the statement advocates a health-based approach to illegal drug use, rather than the use of punitive criminal justice measures. The full text of the statement is now available online here.

QUNO Geneva recently raised these issues in an oral statement to the 31st session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in March 2016, drawing attention to the human rights impacts of drug policy and criminalization.

A video of this HRC statement, delivered by Representative for Human Rights and Refugees, Laurel Townhead, can be viewed (beginning at chapter 26 on the sidebar) here

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March 2016

QUNO Geneva backs junior staff pay campaign

Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) Geneva is pleased to lend its support to the aims of the ‘We Pay Our Interns’ initiative, recently instituted by a group of Geneva-based non-governmental organizations.

While QUNO has chosen not to employ interns, we do instead provide annual Programme Assistant posts, which provide a year-long, paid and structured development opportunity for junior professionals.

QUNO particularly supports the principle of Articles 2 and 3 of the We Pay Our Interns Charter, which requires its member organisations to provide adequate levels of payment for junior staff, and to ensure a selection process free from discrimination of any kind. Further information about this campaign is available at: http://www.wepayourinterns.org

We are now accepting applications for three Programme Assistant vacancies for the 2016-17 period, working on Human Rights and Refugees, Peacebuilding and Climate Change, and Food and Sustainability. More information on these posts is available here.

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March 2016

Consultation on Human Rights and Peace and Security

QUNO and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) hosted a consultation with invited experts to look at how peacebuilding and human rights work by the UN can be strengthened by increasing understanding of the processes and relevance of each agency and community’s work and by providing space for dialogue between them. The ideas generated are being fed into the preparations for the high-level thematic debate of the UN General Assembly focused on peace and security on 10-11 May. 

The President of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, is organising the debate at the GA to reflect on concrete ways to draw out synergies from the most recent UN peace and security reviews, including the review of UN peace operations, the Peacebuilding Architecture Review and the implementation review of Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security and was supportive of a consultation focusing on the human rights aspects.

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