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.
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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July 2017

QUNO participation at YMG 2017 in Warwick

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

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July 2017

Call for inputs to UN report on human rights of migrants

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

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

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

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

Further details are in the note verbale attached.

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July 2017

Read QUNO's latest Geneva Reporter newsletter

QUNO's July 2017 issue of the Geneva Reporter newsletter is now available online. The latest issue features: an update from our Human Rights & Refugees Representative on the new “global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration,” news about the inter-faith meetings QUNO helped to organize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a brief overview on our recent cross-cutting work on sustaining peace and climate change, and a QUNO Q&A  with Carolan Redfearn.

The full publication is available below.

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June 2017

Key updates on migration issues

June saw several activities around the UN on the topic of international migration, including at the Human Rights Council’s 35th session and during the consultation phase for the ‘global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration.’

 

Human Rights Council

At the 35th session of the Human Rights Council, two resolutions were passed related to migration. Firstly, we welcome the Mexican-led resolution, ‘Protection of the human rights of migrants: the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration’. Whilst we were hoping for stronger language in certain areas, the resolution provides a helpful contribution to the process towards developing a global compact, particularly mandating a report from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with a global compact focus. The resolution also contains important references to the criminalization of irregular migrants and to the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations.

We also welcome the resolution on climate change and migration passed at this session, again focused on how the Council can contribute towards the global compact on migration, as well as work underway on these issues under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. We look forward to the intersessional panel mandated by the resolution, along with reports to future sessions of the Council.

This session was the last for current Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau as he reached the end of his mandate. During the session, an interactive dialogue was held where he discussed final report with States, on a 2035 agenda for facilitating human mobility. QUNO extends its thanks to François Crépeau for his significant contribution towards migrants rights over the past 6 years and looks forward to working with his newly appointed successor, Felipe Gonzales Morales.

Global Compact Consultations

The third thematic session of the consultations for the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration was held on the 19th and 20th June in Geneva. This session focussed on ‘international cooperation and governance of migration in all its dimensions, including at borders, on transit, entry return, readmission, integration and reintegration.’

The topics covered in this session are some of the most problematic for the current protection of migrants’ human rights. We were concerned during the session about a lack of human rights and people-centred approach in the statements from many States, particularly around their policies on return and readmission of migrants and towards irregular migrants.

QUNO co-hosted a side event, together with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Mexican, Swiss, Portuguese and Philippine Missions on ‘Human rights perspectives on the governance of migration at borders and in the context of returns.’ The discussion was wide ranging, and in particular sought to highlight that the global compact’s content on borders and returns should be human rights based and compliant with existing international legal standards. The event featured the following speakers:

  • Craig Mokhiber, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (Moderator)
  • Erasmo Lara Cabrera, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico
  • Francois Crepeau, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants
  • Mariane Quintao, International Detention Coalition Youth Ambassador
  • Jonas Bergmann, Global Public Policy Institute
  • Driss El Yazami, Chair of the National Human Rights Council, Morocco 

​​The discussion was wide ranging, and in particular sought to highlight that the global compact’s content on borders and returns should be human rights based and compliant with existing international legal standards. 

For more information about our work on migration issues, see the relevant section of our website.

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June 2017

Conscientious objection to military service: activities at the 35th Session of the Human Rights Council

The 35th Session of the Human Rights Council saw important developments on the issue of conscientious objection to military service.

QUNO welcomes the presentation to the Council of the Analytical report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, noting in particular its focus on good practice towards recognition of this right and the serious gaps in implementation around the world. The report offers a series of concrete recommendations to States towards closing this implementation gap.

The next quadrennial resolution on this issue is due at the next session of the Human Rights Council in September. QUNO was pleased to hear the core group who lead this resolution, Croatia, Costa Rica and Poland, make a joint statement at this session of the council. The statement can be viewed at chapter 4 on the video of this meeting.

QUNO hosted a side event on Monday 19th June at the Human Rights Council, focussed on implementation of the right to conscientious objection to military service. The side event explored the High Commissioner’s report and what further steps the Council can take on the issue of conscientious objection to military service.

QUNO also made a statement on this issue at this session of the Council. Our statement can be viewed here (chapter 63).

QUNO will continue to support greater recognition and implementation of the right to conscientious objection to military service, and will be engaging closely with the upcoming resolution in September. 

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June 2017

Towards a Human Rights Based Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration: Paper #3: Implementation, Monitoring and Accountability Mechanisms

This paper presents examples of implementation, monitoring and accountability mechanisms under six multilateral agreements that we believe can be learnt from in considering how to achieve an effective global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. The examples draw on a range of international agreements from different areas of policy and range from long-standing UN mechanisms to very recent agreements for which the specific means of implementation are still under negotiation. This paper hopes to assist stakeholders in considering some of the potential options for effective implementation of this new international agreement.

This paper is part of QUNO’s paper series, “Towards a Human Rights Based Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” a set of contributions to the global compact on migration process. To access these papers, please see this section of our website.

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June 2017

QUNO to host side event on the Right to Conscientious Objection to Military Service: Towards Implementation

QUNO will host a side event at the 35th Session of the Human Rights Council on the issue of conscientious objection to military service. The event will be held on Monday 19 June 2017, 12:00-13:00 Room XXVII, at the Palais des Nations.

Following the presentation to the Human Rights Council of the Analytical report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights this side event will explore the report and look to what further steps the Council can take on the issue of conscientious objection to military service.

It will feature a panel of the following speakers:

  • Ambassador Vesna Batistić Kos, Permanent Mission of Croatia Ambassador Piotr Stachanczyk, Permanent Mission of Poland
  • Seungho Park, World Without War (Republic of Korea) TBC
  • Michael Wiener, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Moderator: Laurel Townhead, Quaker United Nations Office
Light refreshments will be served after the side event
If you would like to attend and do not have a valid grounds pass please contact Catherine Baker (cbaker@quno.ch) by Thursday 15 June.

 

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June 2017

Briefing the Committee on the Rights of the Child on children of prisoners

On 31st May 2017, the Child Rights Connect Working Group on Children of Incarcerated Parents held a briefing and discussion with the Committee on the Rights of the Child, focussing on the rights of children of incarcerated parents.

Laurel Townhead (QUNO) and Rachel Brett (COPE member) provided an introduction, highlighting work done so far by the Committee, particularly since the Day of General Discussion in 2011. They noted that despite significant advances in understanding on this issue, implementation remains patchy and more can be done by the Committee to ensure protection of these children’s rights.

Their introductions were followed by a discussion with members of the Committee, many of whom have a long-standing commitment to this issue. The main points raised in the discussion were:

  • The need for child rights perspectives to be taken up in cases involving separation of children from their arrested or incarcerated parent, particularly by the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Consideration of how best to protect the rights of children detained with their mothers and ensuring that their best interests are met, including in the Latin American context.
  • Alternatives to imprisonment such as home detention.
  • Good practice from South Africa based on a Constitutional Court ruling setting out a test for taking the best interests of the child into account when sentencing their primary carer.
  • Protection of children and ensuring childcare arrangements are in place in situations of arrest of a parent.
  • The lack of services available in many countries for children affected by parental imprisonment, particularly health and social services.
  • Good practice examples in protecting these children’s rights, such as the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Italian Ministry of Justice, the children’s ombudsman and the main NGO working on this issue in Italy.
  • The importance of continuing to raise this in reviews and in Concluding Observations and work done with regional networks to provide the Committee with information about the situation in countries as they report.
  • The interest and possibility of a General Comment by the Committee on this issue.

 

 

For more information please see the following documents shared with the Committee members:

  • A short briefing by the QUNO on the Committee’s work to date on this issue.
  • A longer briefing paper Committee’s work on children of incarcerated parents. L. Townhead ‘Briefing Paper: Children of Incarcerated Parents International Standards and Guidance’, (2015) Quaker United Nations Office.
  • The Italian Memorandum of Understanding.
  • Child Rights Connect Working Group on Children of Incarcerated Parents’ recommendations for States based on Italian good practice.

 

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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

QUNO input to informal Pre-Glion policy dialogue on Human Rights and Prevention at the UN

As part of QUNO's ongoing efforts to link human rights and sustaining peace at the UN level, Diane Hendrick spoke at an informal policy dialogue preceding the Glion Human Rights dialogue 2017 (Glion IV). This dialogue was co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Morocco to the UNOG and the Universal Rights Group (URG) on 27 April 2017.

The Human Rights Council has a prevention mandate (as set by paragraph 5f of GA resolution 60/251) and the discussions sought to see where this fits within the UN’s broader prevention efforts. The new UN Secretary-General has repeatedly called on the UN to strengthen its prevention capacity, and undertaken reforms that make this a good moment to push for more effective linking of human rights and sustaining peace throughout the UN institutions.

Diane presented some ideas generated from previous expert consultations on this topic at the meeting and co-hosted with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). She highlighted the opportunities for developing the role of human rights within the Peacebuilding Commission. Ideas and views generated during the dialogues were fed into a high-level informal retreat in Glion during May 2017.

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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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