Timeline

Human Rights & Refugees

We work to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights through the United Nations system, with particular reference to the interface between human rights and armed conflicts, and the protection of refugees.
May 2017

QUNO co-hosted a side-event on the margins of the consultations for the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration

QUNO co-hosted a side event with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and co-sponsored by the Governments of Portugal, El Salvador, Canada, Switzerland and Mexico, at the first consultation session for the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

The event, Protecting the human rights of migrants in vulnerable situations, in May focused on how UN Member States can better combat abuse and exploitation suffered by migrants in vulnerable situations, and better protect migrants’ rights under international human rights law. It drew in particular on a set of 'principles and practical guidance on the human rights protection of migrants in vulnerable situations', which have been developed by the Global Migration Group.

The consultations were the first time that Member States met to discuss what should be included in the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. As such, this timely event sought to strengthen the message that protecting the human rights of all migrants should be central to the Compact.

A full outline of the event is attached.

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May 2017

Initial Reflections on Implementation, Monitoring and Accountability Mechanisms ahead of a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

QUNO's third paper on the process towards developing a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will focus on mechanisms for implementation, monitoring and accountability in international agreements. Here we publish some initial reflections based on work to date analysing different implementation, monitoring and accountability mechanisms from various UN treaties and agreements. A full paper will follow shortly.

Our interim reflections highlight elements found in other international agreements that we believe can be learnt from in considering how best to build effective implementation, monitoring and accountability mechanisms into the Global Compact on Safe Orderly and Regular Migration. We share them at this stage for consideration ahead of the first thematic consultation towards the Compact, which will take place on 8th and 9th May 2017.

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May 2017

Strengthening the link between Human Rights and Peacebuilding Through the UPR

Since the beginning of 2017, in close collaboration with the Human Rights and Refugees programme and our colleagues at QUNO New York, the Peace and Disarmament programme has been working on a project linking human rights and sustaining peace. The yearlong project aims to strengthen the links between the peacebuilding and human rights communities within the UN and on the ground through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a UN  process that reviews the human rights records of all 193 UN member States in a five-year cycle. The UPR was designed as a mechanism to improve the human rights situation in every country by encouraging and supporting states to effectively implement and protect human rights at every level. To support this process, information from UN agencies and civil society organisations are compiled to provide recommendations to the state under review and background for other states to create recommendations and questions.

For our project, we have chosen six test case countries, each facing particular challenges to differing degrees in human rights, conflict and violence from the Syria in the throes of war to Guatemala facing chronic and destabilising violence. For the upcoming UPR Sessions, we chose to focus on Indonesia and Brazil and we invited two peacebuilding civil society representatives - Ruslan from KOMPAK (Kupang Peacemakers) in Indonesia and Ivan Marques from Sou da Paz in Brazil- to attend briefing sessions for diplomats and off the record meetings organised by QUNO in Geneva. They were able  to discuss their work and explore ways in which the UPR could better support peacebuilding and violence reduction and elimination.

Both organisations produced briefing documents, highlighting their work around peacebuilding and human rights, country specific issues and key recommendations targeted toward their respective countries that can be used for the upcoming UPR Sessions in May.

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April 2017

Civil Society 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 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.

Ahead of the first thematic consultation of this process, taking place in Geneva on 8th and 9th May, this group has produced a set of key human rights messages for the Compact. These are:

  • Ensure the full and active participation of migrants as primary stakeholders, including the participation of civil society organisations and NHRIs working directly with or on behalf of migrant and diaspora populations.
  • Ensure respect for the principle of non-discrimination irrespective of a person’s migration or residency status. Action must be taken to counter xenophobia and prevent hate crimes targeting people on the basis of their migratory or perceived migratory status.   
  • Ensure that migration is not criminalised and prohibit all unlawful or disproportionate border measures.
  • Ensure the human rights of all migrants who are particularly at risk, paying particular attention to migrants with specific needs who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that heighten their vulnerability.
  • Ensure that migratory status is not a bar to access to economic, social and cultural rights, particularly essential services, including healthcare.
  • Develop and implement accessible, regular, fair, and safe migration pathways, facilitating the regularisation of migrants in an irregular
  • Ensure that any returns or removals are carried out in full respect for the human rights of migrants, in safety and dignity, and in accordance with international law.
  • Ensure that protection of the human rights of migrants is recognised as a legal obligation of States, and not only a matter of humanitarian assistance. International standards and national laws and practices must enable judges and lawyers to play their essential role in upholding the rights of migrants and the rule of law.

We hope to see these points, and the centrality of human rights, raised throughout the preparatory process towards the adoption of this agreement.   

Please see the attached for the full document. 

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April 2017

6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty: new publication and website

The Quaker United Nations Office works on children of parents sentenced to death or executed first and foremost because we believe that such children should not be forgotten and their rights should be upheld.  The 2016 World Congress Against the Death Penalty recognized that the impact of a death sentence on the children of parents sentenced to death or executed represents a powerful argument against the death penalty.

This was the message QUNO brought to last year’s World Congress Against the Death Penalty, the details of which have been brought together in a new publication and website. The 6th The Congress was held in Oslo in June 2016 and was attended by QUNO’s Human Rights and Refugees team. The Congress, convened by Ensemble contre la peine de mort (ECPM), is held every three years to bring together those working towards the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.

The new report and website feature an article written by QUNO’s Laurel Townhead, highlighting the significant and often devastating impacts on children whose parents are sentenced to death or executed, and explaining why this can be a used as a strong argument for abolition. QUNO also wrote a briefing paper on children of parents sentenced to death or executed ahead of the event, which provides more detail on this issue.

QUNO continues to work to raise the profile of children of parents facing the death penalty at the international level. In particular, our written statement to the 34th session of the Human Rights Council held in March this year examines how children of parents sentenced to death or executed may be considered victims of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. We also look forward to participating in the next World Congress, due to take place in 2019.

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April 2017

Expectations for a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration: New paper

QUNO is closely following the process for negotiating a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This process part of the UN’s response to the large numbers of people on the move around the world. The Global Compact was mandated by the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, a high-level statement adopted by States on 19th September and is due to be adopted in September 2018.

Following the adoption on 6 April of General Assembly resolution 71/280 on the modalities for developing a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, QUNO has prepared a short paper on expectations of the process.  This contains the steps which we believe are needed to support the adoption of a human rights based Global Compact (as called for in the New York Declaration and the modalities resolution). 

QUNO’s previous paper on the Compact, on input to the modalities resolution, is here.

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April 2017

QUNO is accepting applications for two 2017-18 Programme Assistant positions

Our Geneva office is now hiring two Programme Assistants (PAs) for September 2017 to August 2018.

This is an opportunity for those in sympathy with Quaker approaches and with an interest in international affairs and in international organizations. You would experience a range of international work, while working primarily as an assistant to QUNO's Representatives in their work on​ Human Rights & Refugees, and Climate Change and Peace.

For more information on the two PA positions, visit our PA page and download the complete job descriptions and application forms below. The deadline for applications is 1 May. Carefully read through the application instructions in the respective job descriptions and send your completed application form to the following email addresses:

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March 2017

A focus on the human rights of migrants at the Human Rights Council's 34th Session

The 34th Session of the Human Rights Council concluded on 24th March. During the session there were some important discussions and decisions relating to the human rights of migrants, an issue we are working on closely. 

On 10th March the Human Rights Council held an Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the human rights of migrants in the context of large movements. This was the first time that the Council held a discussion dedicated to migrants’ human rights after the September 2016 adoption of the New York Declaration on refugees and migrants, and its initiation of the development of a Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration. The Declaration – a high level political statement, and the Global Compact - a proposed new State-negotiated international framework - represent important shifts in how the international community addresses human mobility and displacement. As such, the Human Rights Council’s discussion came at an important time, giving it an opportunity to speak to the role of human rights within this new international agenda.

Peggy Hicks, Director of the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division of the Office of the High Commissioner, stated during the discussion:

'The international community has an unprecedented opportunity in the next two years to... learn from the experience of migrants, and to build a Global Compact that provides safe, rights respecting migration, and to ensure that future generations are spared the hell of desperate, precarious journeys.' 

QUNO followed this discussion closely, and we co-signed a joint oral statement that was delivered during the debate (attached). Our current priority is for the Council to play its part in making sure that the Global Compact is people-centred and underpinned by and consistent with international human rights law.

We also prepared a Briefing for Friends that examines these UN initiatives in more detail. It further describes how we are actively engaged in this work, as well as ways that Friends around the world can engage with, and benefit from these UN level initiatives.  

Laurel Townhead, Representative for Human Rights and Refugees delivered two statements for QUNO related to the human rights of migrants during the session. 

1. The first statement welcomed a set of Principles and Guidelines on the human rights protection of migrants in vulnerable situations and within large and/or mixed movements, developed by the Global Migration Group, and called on States to endorse them. See here for the video of the statement (number 59 on right hand panel).

2. The second statement called for a human rights basis to the Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration, with a particular focus on the importance of the role of existing UN human rights mechanisms in its development. See here for the video of the statement (number 25 on right hand panel).

QUNO was also pleased that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants was renewed in a resolution at this session. Finally, we further welcome the decision of the Mexican mission to run a substantive resolution on the human rights of migrants in the June session of the Human Rights Council.

Looking ahead, we encourage sustained attention to this issue by the UN human rights mechanisms, particularly in light of the upcoming consultations for the Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration.

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March 2017

QUNO at the Human Rights Council: a focus on children of parents facing the death penalty as victims of torture

On 1st March 2017, the annual High Level Panel on the question of the death penalty was held at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council. This year’s panel focussed on how the death penalty relates to torture.

During the panel, Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment highlighted the impact of the death penalty on children:

The death penalty is… first of all, in my view, a question of life and how we define ourselves as human beings, as States and as an international community. Do we really want to retain a retributive system, deliberately inflicting pain and anguish on convicts, on their parents, on their spouses, on their children?... Or do we prefer to define ourselves on different terms, focusing not only on the inherent dignity of convicts, victims and families but also on the dignity and moral authority of our human society as a whole? ”

In light of the panel’s focus on torture, we submitted a written and oral statement at this session of the Council, highlighting that the sentencing to death or execution of a parent leads to a violation of the child’s right to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (CIDT) or torture under international law. 

The written statement can be found here.

The oral statement, delivered by Catherine Baker, Programme Assistant for Human Rights and Refugees at the High Level Panel, can be found at 2.09.45 on the video of the panel.

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March 2017

QUNO Review March 2017 now available

Our new, March 2017 edition of the QUNO Review is now available for download. The publication 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.

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February 2017

A briefing for diplomats on Human Rights and Peacebuilding

The Geneva Peacebuilding Platform held a briefing for diplomats on Human Rights and Peacebuilding on 15th February, which QUNO organised, moderated and presented. This briefing drew on the work QUNO has been doing on human rights, peacebuilding and sustaining peace through our Peace and Disarmament and Human Rights and Refugees Programmes, and in close collaboration with our colleagues at QUNO  New York.  The briefing session aimed to provide useful background to diplomats ahead of the Mainstreaming Panel on the contribution of human rights to peacebuilding at the Human Rights Council on 27 February.

During the briefing session, Diane Hendrick and the other panelists illustrated areas in which human rights interacted with peacebuilding processes and approaches, and how human rights can be mainstreamed throughout the peacebuilding work of the UN system, including on the ground. A key aim was to present the concept of “sustaining peace” in which peacebuilding is understood as a process that takes place (and needs to be supported) before during and after conflict, as reflected in recent UN resolutions on the UN peacebuilding architecture. QUNO underlined that economic, social, and cultural rights are integral to addressing the root causes of destructive conflict.

For further information please refer below to our Handout on Human Rights and International Peace and Security.

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February 2017

QUNO contributes to a new World Report on Statelessness

QUNO’s Representative for Human Rights and Refugees, Laurel Townhead, has written an article on childhood statelessness of children of prisoners, for a new World Report on Statelessness.

The World Report on Statelessness, launched by the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, is the most comprehensive resource on the global situation of stateless people. The second World Statelessness Report (2017) has a specific focus on children, exploring the urgency of and opportunities for addressing childhood statelessness. QUNO’s article focusses on the risks of childhood statelessness for children of prisoners, particularly for children born to foreign national women in prison.

For more information about the report and about statelessness around the world, see the two report websites: http://worldsstateless.org/ and http://children.worldsstateless.org/.

The full report can be accessed here (the article can be found on page 385). 

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February 2017

New briefing for Friends on opportunities and challenges for the protection of refugees and migrants at the UN level

We are pleased to launch a new briefing paper for Friends: ‘Protecting refugees and migrants under the New York Declaration: challenges and opportunities at the UN level.’

On September 19th 2016, the UN set a new agenda under the ‘New York Declaration’ for responding to large movements of people crossing borders. Our briefing aims to inform Friends about the Declaration and the developments it initiates for improving global governance on refugees and migrants. It also describes how QUNO is engaging in these opportunities, as well as ways that Quakers around the world can link up with, and benefit from, UN level initiatives.

This weekend, we are sharing this briefing at the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network (QARN) conference on forced migration. The QARN conference, at Woodbrooke Study Centre in Birmingham, UK aims to connect Friends in the UK interested in responding to forced migration issues. Our briefing and our workshop at the conference aims to connect our UN work and the opportunities it presents to local initiatives amongst Quakers in the UK. 

Photo: contributing to the tree of current actions Friends are taking on refugee and migrant issues.

 

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January 2017

QUNO moderated a panel event on the rights of children of incarcerated parents

QUNO organized a panel event, "The Rights of Children of Incarcerated Parents: Replicating good practice from Italy," that took place at the UN on 1 February 2017. The event was hosted by the Permanent Missions to the UN of Italy and Argentina, and the Child Rights Connect Working Group on Children of Incarcerated Parents. 

The Italian NGO Bambinisenzasbarre signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Justice and the National Ombudswoman for Childhood and Adolescence, aimed at the fulfilment of the rights of children of incarcerated parents throughout the country. Steps are being taken to replicate this good practice in other countries. The event highlighted how this Memorandum and the partnership behind it work in practice, how this is being replicated in Argentina and lessons for replication in other States seeking to protect the rights of these children. 

Further information is available in the invitation flyer below.

 

 

 

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January 2017

New UN report on conscientious objection to military service – call for inputs

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a call for inputs on the issue of conscientious objection to military service (see attached file).

The compiled information will lead to a new UN report on the topic. The report will provide the most comprehensive outline of the latest developments, standards and remaining challenges relating to conscientious objection to military service. The previous report, from 2012 can be found here

QUNO has been working on this issue for decades and will be contributing to the report. We encourage others to contribute too. 

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December 2016

Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty

QUNO is closely following and inputting information into a Global Study on Children Deprived of their Liberty.

The Study will shed light on the scale and conditions of children deprived of their liberty, identifying good practices and making recommendations for effective measures to prevent human rights violations against children in detention and reduce the number of children deprived of liberty.

As called for in UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/69/157, the Study will map out, through monitoring and evaluation analysis, how existing international laws and standards are being implemented on the ground. Through comprehensive data collection, it will also provide a consolidation of good practices and the formulation of recommendations, to support the work of States, UN agencies and other stakeholders to more effectively implement international standards. Manfred Nowak has been appointed to lead the Study, overseeing the development of an in-depth, comprehensive global report to be presented to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at its 73rd regular session in 2018.

The Study is relevant to our work on children of prisoners because it will cover all forms of deprivation of children’s liberty, making it an important opportunity to raise awareness of situations where children are detained with an incarcerated parent. At the first meeting between Manfred Nowak and the NGO Panel working on this issue, children detained with incarcerated parents was specifically listed as one of the topics to be included in the Study. It is now important that all civil society actors working on this issue coordinate effectively and contribute the necessary material to ensure that the situation of these children is fully and effectively incorporated into the Study.

All NGOs working on children of incarcerated parents are encouraged to get involved. Here are some ways to participate:

  • Join the NGO panel to be part of the coordinated advocacy campaign around the Study;
  • Send details and links of any of the following to Catherine Baker at the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) (cbaker@quno.ch) for inclusion in the Study and upcoming advocacy work:
  1. Relevant publications and examples of good practice;
  2. Academics working on this issue who should be included on the Study’s Academic Panel;
  3. Details of any relevant events in the next two years related to children detained with their parents.

 

 

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November 2016

Putting human rights at the heart of the new UN refugee and migrant agenda

At today’s briefing meeting by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, human rights were championed as vital elements in the new global agenda on refugees and migration.

Peggy Hicks, Director of the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated during the event, that this discussion must not be “of whether or not human rights apply – but a discussion of how human rights are to be upheld.”

The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted in New York on 19th September sets in motion a series of processes at the UN level which aim to improve global governance of large movements of people across borders. The most significant processes will involve a UNHCR-led, practical framework for refugees (a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework leading to a Global Compact on refugees) and a State-led process to improve migration governance (leading to a Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration).

QUNO sees this as an opportunity to develop a more rights-respecting global framework for protecting refugees and migrants. Whilst the New York Declaration includes a wealth of human rights language, our key concern now is making sure that in the processes that emerge, the attention given to human rights is more than just lip-service.

This is why QUNO is seeking to contribute to this discussion. In particular, we would like to see:

  • The human rights of all people, regardless of circumstance, as a key message during the development of the Compacts and that this focus is grounded in existing international human rights law.
  • The Human Rights Council and other human rights mechanisms and expertise are utilised effectively to make substantive contributions to the development of the Global Compacts and to ensure their implementation. 
  • Civil society, including migrants and refugees themselves, are given a central role throughout the processes.

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November 2016

Read QUNO's latest Geneva Reporter newsletter

QUNO's November 2016 issue of the Geneva Reporter newsletter is now available online. The latest issue features: an interview with our Food & Sustainability Representative on her upcoming expert consultation on the role of governments in supporting small-scale farmers and ensuring food security, a report on the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, news about our inequality side-event during Geneva Peace Week, and a QUNO Q&A  with 2016 Geneva Summer School participant Ayah Abubasheer.

The newsletter also includes a one-page insert featuring QUNO's perspective on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The full publication is available below.

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September 2016

5 years of progress on the children of incarcerated parents: launch of a new resource

To mark five years since the Committee on the Rights of the Child held a Day of General Discussion (DGD) on Children of Incarcerated Parents, Child Rights Connect’s Working Group on this issue is launching a new database of relevant recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. As convenor of Child Rights Connect’s Working Group, QUNO has complied this database to highlight what has been achieved since the DGD, and to encourage further progress in protecting the rights of these children around the world.

The 2011 DGD was an important moment in raising the issue of children incarcerated parents within the UN human rights system. Since then, the issue has been reflected in a Human Rights Council resolutions, advanced in national policy and practice and been the subject of important research projects, with advocacy efforts coordinated by newly developed regional networks.

This resource is the latest development in efforts to raise the profile of this often overlooked group. It enables Committee Members, States and civil society to browse the Concluding Observations made by the Committee to States regarding their treatment of children of incarcerated parents. The Concluding Observations can be searched by State, year, Committee session, UN document reference or keywords. 

We hope that the resource will encourage further recognition of this issue in international policy, leading to better protection of these children’s rights.

The database can be found at www.crccip.com

We also marked the five-year anniversary of the DGD by delivering an oral statement to the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council on children of incarcerated parents. Please see here for details of the statement.

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September 2016

QUNO attends discussion on Children's Rights and the Environment

On the 23rd September, QUNO attended a day long "General Discussion" on the Rights of the Child and the Environment, held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. QUNO advocates greater integration of human rights and rights-based approaches in climate action. Climate change has impacts on the human right to life, health, food, water, adequate housing and self-determination. There is currently no human right to a "healthy environment," yet children and all our future generations will face the greatest consequences if we fail to address the root causes of anthropogenic climate change. This day long discussion gave voice to these concerns, and colleagues from QUNO's climate change, peace and human rights programmes were present.

More information can be found at the link below.

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