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.
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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September 2016

QUNO delivers oral statement on the rights of children of incarcerated parents at the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council

QUNO delivered an oral statement on the rights of children of incarcerated parents at the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The statement marked the five-year anniversary of the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Day of General Discussion on Children of Incarcerated Parents (held in September 2011), and recognised the importance of this event in contributing to improved international and national standards on the issue. 

QUNO called upon the Council to focus on implementing the relevant resolutions and to consider the situation of children of parents sentenced to death or executed ahead of the upcoming General Assembly resolution on moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Catherine Baker, Programme Assistant for Human Rights and Refugees delivered the statement during the General Debate discussion on Friday 16th September

 

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August 2016

QUNO attends 32nd session of the Human Rights Council

From 13 June to 1 July, QUNO representatives attended the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council taking place in Geneva.

During the session, QUNO followed the negotiation of resolutions on a number of thematic issues, including the right to a nationality, the human rights of migrants and human rights and climate change.

Programme Assistant Daniel Cullen delivered two oral statements at the session: the first on the Nelson Mandela Rules (see this link at chapter 76 for video) in the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Health, and the second on the rights of children of incarcerated parents (see this link at chapter 36 for video) in the Item 3 General Debate.

On 29 June, Representative Laurel Townhead spoke on a panel at a side event on the human rights of refugees and migrants, which QUNO co-organised with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the International Detention Coalition (IDC) and others.

On the same day, Zaina Kisongoa, Country Representative for Somalia with American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) spoke on a panel a separate side event on the role of economic, social and cultural rights in the prevention of conflict, co-organised by QUNO, OHCHR and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).

QUNO also co-sponsored a third side event, organised by Penal Reform International (PRI) along with the Permanent Missions of Canada and Denmark, on the human rights of women in conflict with the law, which took place on 15 June.

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August 2016

QUNO attends World Congress against the Death Penalty

From 22-23 June, QUNO Geneva representatives attended the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty, hosted in Oslo, Norway.

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.

This year’s Congress was attended by around 1300 participants from over 80 countries, including government ministers, parliamentarians, academics, lawyers and members of civil society.

On 23 June, QUNO organised a side event at the conference, drawing attention to the wider impacts of the death penalty on children of parents sentenced to death or executed.

Representative Laurel Townhead spoke on the panel at the event, along with Programme Assistant Daniel Cullen and Zaved Mahmood of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

For more information on issues affecting children of parents sentenced to death or executed, and the international standards in this area, please see the below QUNO briefing paper prepared for the Congress.

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July 2016

QUNO co-hosts high level meeting on Refugees, Migrants and the 2030 Agenda

On 20 July, 2016, QUNO co-hosted a policy forum discussion with the International Peace Institute in New York , along with the governments of Finland, Germany, Mexico and Morocco, entitled "Ensuring that no one is left behind: A High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Refugees", during the ministerial segment of the High Level Political Forum. At a time when the world is experiencing the largest movements of peoples in recorded history, the goal of the event was to connect the dots between the 2030 Agenda and the upcoming UN Summit in September that will address large movements of refugees and migrants.

Video of the event is available here.

Current UN discussions on displaced persons are fragmented, with separate silos for issues of refugees, migrants and internally displaced people, each with their own normative framing, organizational context and political sensitivities. The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development provides a new framing, using the mandate for peaceful, just and inclusive societies, and the imperative to "leave no-one behind", to address the needs and perspectives of all those who have been forced to leave their homes, whether from violence and conflict, climate change, or economic necessity.

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June 2016

QUNO co-hosts event on human rights of refugees and migrants

During the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council, QUNO co-hosted a side event on the human rights of refugees and migrants. Co-organised with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the event took place on Wednesday 29 June at the Palais des Nations.

The panel discussion featured speakers including the Ambassador of Ireland to the UN, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection. This event was also co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Ireland, the International Detention Coalition (IDC), Caritas Internationalis and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC).

For further details, including details of all speakers, please see the flyer attached below.

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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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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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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

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

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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March 2016

QUNO delivers oral statement on minorities in criminal justice systems at the HRC

QUNO delivered an oral statement on the impact of discrimination against minorities in the criminal justice system during the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The issue was raised by QUNO in response to the presentation of the final recommendations from the eighth session of the Forum on Minority Issues, which had originally taken place during November 2015.

QUNO highlighted the relationship between the overcriminalization and overincarceration of minorities in criminal justice systems, and the disproportionate impacts of parental incarceration faced by minority children. We called upon States to protect and uphold the rights of members of minority groups, including children, in criminal justice systems.

Daniel Cullen, Programme Assistant for Human Rights and Refugees, delivered the statement during the Item 5 General Debate discussion on Wednesday 16 March.

The full text of the statement is linked below on this page, and video (beginning at chapter 20 on sidebar) is available at the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/human-rights-council/watch/item5-general-debate-42nd-meeting-31st-regular-session-human-rights-council/4803282611001 

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