Timeline

November 2017

QUNO joined the opening panel at the 10th Annual Meeting of the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform

On 6 November, QUNO’s UN Representative Rachel Madenyika participated on the opening panel of the 10th Annual Meeting of the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform. Entitled ‘Preventing Violent Conflict: Taking stock and looking forward’, this session took stock of the progress being made towards the prevention of violent conflicts, exploring the future of prevention practices for all actors in this field. Joining Rachel on the panel was the Under-Secretary General and Special Advisor on Policy, Ms. Ana Maria Menéndez, and Mr. Darynell Rodriguez Torres of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC). 

The interactive discussion connected past trends of the policies and practices with current and future needs for the proactive prevention of violent conflict. The session asked questions that considered lessons-learned from the many cases of failed prevention, practical priorities for preventing violent conflict, and the future for the UN in the prevention of violent conflict. In her remarks, Rachel first expressed the importance of understanding why, and what, we are preventing, and secondly that by looking at lessons learned from the last twenty years of UN engagement, one possibility is to focus on examples of long term success to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Rachel articulated that conflict analysis that does not consider participatory approaches lead to interventions that do not necessarily address the real needs of local people, and therefore, the inclusion of all key actors is central to conflict prevention. In closing, Rachel encouraged the full auditorium that inclusion of a wide range of perspectives including those of the people most affected leads to better understanding, more legitimate and more long-term decisions to prevent conflict.

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November 2017

Introducing New York’s Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform to Geneva

On 8 November, amidst the highly attended Geneva Peace Week, QUNO’s UN Representative Rachel Madenyika presented and moderated a panel entitled “The Future of Prevention: Civil Society Perspectives on Obstacles and Opportunities to better support the UN’s work on Prevention.” The workshop was co-organized by the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC).

Rachel opened the meeting by introducing the work of the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform (the Platform). Launched in 2016 in New York, the inclusive initiative aims to support the UN’s prevention agenda through strengthening coordination and information sharing between civil society organizations and the UN at all levels by identifying concrete and practical steps to enhance the UN and civil society’s collective capacity to carry out preventative work. Rachel shared with the Geneva audience that the Platform primarily worked through sharing of best practices, identifying areas of potential collaboration, supporting the UN’s work in early warning and early action, and most importantly, that the Platform relied on an informal extensive network of global expert civil society organizations. The panel highlighted concrete examples of opportunities and challenges in engaging the UN. GPPAC emphasized that for local civil society actors, such a platform is a significant opportunity to empower civil society engagement not only with the UN but also with local, national, and international actors. SSRC expressed the importance of engaging with local academics as experts who are knowledgeable of the country context. The speaker from the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) discussed how early warning systems are effective in West Africa because of the strong networks of local actors that work cohesively in preventing conflict from escalating. Funding and lack of information sharing were identified by all speakers as challenges to better support the UN. The Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform was a welcomed initiative in Geneva and the event was well attended with participants expressing interest in joining the Platform’s larger network of civil society experts.

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November 2017

QUNO publishes "A Negotiatior's Toolkit" featuring concise arguments for urgent climate action

"A Negotiator's Tookit" was created to support climate negotiators in their work to engage busy Ministries with reasons for urgent, rights-based climate action. Ministers and other decision makers face competing demands and priorities, but they may also be more receptive to one argument over another. One person may better respond to economic concerns, for example, another to scientific findings. The booklet offers eight concise summaries compiled from expert voices in climate change related sectors. We hope these summaries help negotiators engage with colleagues back home on why urgent, rights-based climate action is critical to the long-term well-being and stability of their countries. 

The summaries are based on presentations given by experts at a side event in May 2017, during the climate change conference in Bonn. The Healthier World Argument was compiled following this event. We are thankful to colleagues at Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University and at Newcastle University, for co-hosting this side event in May 2017. This booklet is a working draft, and comments are welcome.

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November 2017

Threats to US support for the United Nations: affirming core values

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 US 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.

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 how the various draft bills and draft Executive Orders may or may not progress, 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.

For those in the United States, FCNL, the Better World Campaign and the UN Association of the USA provide avenues for action in support of the UN, including ways to contact legislators.

Stay informed about QUNO's work, including updates to the below background document, by signing up for our newsletter

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October 2017

The Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform hosts event entitled ‘Reflections on the Role of Women in the Prevention of Violent Conflict’

On 25 October, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform hosted a successful, well attended event entitled ‘Reflections on the Role of Women in the Prevention of Violent Conflict’. Held in advance of the Security Council’s Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, this event brought together the Gender Focal Points from the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and civil society actors from New York. 

Held at Quaker House, this informal, off-the-record meeting offered a space to discuss changes that are needed at the local context and regional inter-governmental levels to increase meaningful participation of women in peace processes and conflict prevention. The discussion highlighted the main challenges and risks for women working in peacebuilding and conflict prevention. Reflections from Fiji, Cameroon, Armenia, and Barcelona emphasized that women are often first responders and their participation is essential in resolving conflict and in helping to build sustainable peace, and yet they are often not included or consulted in programming directed towards them and rarely are key partners in implementation. Participants left the meeting empowered to continue uplifting greater involvement of women in high-level decision-making processes and in formal leadership roles.

The Platform event was moderated by QUNO’s UN Representative for the Prevention of Violent Conflict, Rachel Madenyika. QUNO and GPPAC co-facilitate the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform, established in 2016, which aims to support the UN’s prevention agenda through strengthening coordination and information sharing between civil society organizations and the UN at all levels, and through close collaboration with the Department of Political Affairs (DPA). The Platform believes that the UN’s work on prevention would benefit from a systematic engagement with civil society and that the inclusion of diverse civil society expertise is crucial to achieving sustainable peace and development.

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October 2017

QUNO moderates panel on "Trade, investment and food security" at CFS 44

In October, Representative Susan Bragdon moderated a panel entitled "Trade, investment and food security: designing rules for sustainable food systems" at the 44th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS 44). The session was organized by the Columbia University Law School, the Institute for Sustainable Development and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. 

Susan introduced the subject by describing how trade and investment rules have evolved over the last 25+ years to reach ever more into the domestic sphere of governance, limiting the flexibility of Member States in designing national rules to support food and nutrition security.  Speakers with experience in Central America, the Mekong region, and Ghana described specific national experience, while researchers from the organizers of the panel described current trends and possible future directions. The side event was well-attended and a lively discussion ensued from the background and presentations.

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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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