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.
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.

Related Areas of Work

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

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

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.

Related Areas of Work

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 

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

March 2016

Important rights around the environment being negotiated in Latin America and the Caribbean

QUNO organised a side event at the UN Human Rights Council on 4 March on “Procedural Rights and the Environment: The Principle 10 Negotiations in Latin America and the Caribbean”. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, John Knox, the Ambassadors of Chile and Costa Rica and Marcos Orellana of the Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL), provided an update on what all agreed is the most significant development around the right to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters at the moment. Diane Hendrick presented on the importance of reaching the strongest possible agreement to help prevent destructive conflict around natural resources. The session was moderated by Laurel Townhead of QUNO.

 

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

March 2016

QUNO Review March 2016 now available

Our new, March 2016 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 2016.

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

January 2016

VIDEO: Laurel Townhead talks about our Human Rights & Refugees programme

In this video, excerpted from a longer film shown at the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) World Plenary Meeting held in Peru in January 2016, Human Rights & Refugees discusses the work of our Human Rights & Refugees programme.

The Quaker United Nations Office Human Rights & Refugees programme works 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, the protection of refugees, the rights of people in detention, and other Quaker concerns.

Related Areas of Work

January 2016

QUNO co-hosted briefing on new UN rules on treatment of prisoners

QUNO Geneva co-hosted a briefing on the new revised UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known as the "Nelson Mandela Rules"), the key set of international standards on detention conditions and the treatment of prisoners.

The event, organized in conjunction with Penal Reform International (PRI), the Permanent Mission of Switzerland and the Permanent Mission of Uruguay took place on Thursday 4 February.

An expert panel, moderated by Laurel Townhead, Representative for Human Rights and Refugees, addressed issues around the process of revising the original rules and discuss ideas for the implementation of the new updated rules.

The event was broadcast live online and is available for viewing here.

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

November 2015

QUNO co-hosts event on minority issues and criminal justice

QUNO Geneva co-hosted an expert panel meeting alongside the 8th session of the Forum on Minority Issues, on Wednesday 25 November. 

Marking the International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the panel addressed issues of discrimination and violence faced by women from minority groups in criminal justice systems. 

The event was organised in conjunction with the Permanent Mission of Canada, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Penal Reform International (PRI).

Further information about the event and speakers can be found on the flyer available below.

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

September 2015

QUNO hosts consultation on criminal justice and drug-related policies

QUNO co-hosted an informal NGO consultation meeting on criminal justice and drug-related policies, in conjunction with the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) and Penal Reform International (PRI), on Tuesday 29 September.

The consultation was intended to gather the views of NGOs on these issues in order to support civil society input in advance of the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem, taking place in New York in April 2016.  

Further details about the event can be found on the flyer available below.

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

September 2015

QUNO delivers oral statement on children of parents sentenced to death or executed at the HRC

QUNO delivered an oral statement on the rights of children of parents sentenced to death or executed during the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The issue was raised by QUNO in response to an update to the UN Secretary General's report on Capital punishment and implementation of the safeguards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty.

QUNO called on the Council to follow up on recommendations noted by the report, including convening an expert seminar for further investigation, and developing further guidance on the issue. Daniel Cullen, Programme Assistant for Human Rights and Refugees, delivered the statement during the General Debate discussion on Friday 18 September.

Text and video (beginning at 01:41:30) is available below: 

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

June 2015

QUNO co-hosts "Moving away from the Death Penalty" side event at the 29th session of the Human Rights Council

QUNO will co-host the side event "Moving away from the Death Penalty: Protection of the rights of persons facing death penalty abroad, including migrants" at the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council on Wednesday, 17 June 2015 at 11am.

The side-event will provide a platform for the exchange of information and views on persons who face the death penalty aboard, including migrant workers; and to share good practices, lesson learned and challenges in the implementation of relevant international human rights standards. 

Further details on the event and panelists can be found in the flyer available below.

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

May 2015

QUNO co-hosts side event at the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna

QUNO, together with Friends World Committee for Consultation and Penal Reform International, hosted a side event at the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna on Friday, 22 May 2015. The event presented an opportunity for further discussion following the presentation to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice​ (CCPCJ) of the ninth quinquennial report of the UN Secretary-General on "Capital punishment and implementation of the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty." Further details are available in the flyer below. 

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

April 2015

QUNO hosts CFSC for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

For the last two weeks of April, QUNO hosted partners from the Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) in New York for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Canadian Friends carry the program on Indigenous issues for the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), and have been engaged internationally for many years, including on the drafting and adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This year CFSC contributed to three joint statements: Outcome of the World Conference on Indigenous Issues, Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (read by National Chief Perry Bellegarde), and Eradicating violence against Indigenous women and girls

Related Areas of Work

April 2015

QUNO hosts event on children of incarcerated parents at the 13th UN Congress of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

QUNO's Laurel Townhead and Rachel Brett presented the findings of the COPING project, a transnational research project looking at the impact of parental incarceration on the mental health and well being of children at the Thirteenth UN Congress of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Doha, Qatar.

The COPING project examined ways criminal justice professionals and others can support children's resilience and the session will cover recent developments in the UN human rights system in the promotion and protection of the rights of children of incarcerated parents, including children of parents sentenced to death. Following the presentations was an opportunity to discuss these issues and to share examples of national practice.

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

March 2015

QUNO co-hosts side event on children of incarcerated parents at the Human Rights Council

QUNO, along with the Permanent Delegation of the African Union to the UN in Geneva, the Permanent Mission of Uruguay and Child Rights Connect Working Group on Children of Incarcerated Parents hosted a panel discussion and good practice exchange on policy and practice developments related to children of incarcerated parents.

The event is being held during the 28th session of the Human Rights Council, on 11 March in Geneva. Further details are available in the flyer below.

 

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

March 2015

QUNO particpates in a side event on strengthening death penalty standards at the Human Rights Council

On Monday, 9 March, QUNO participated in a side event on strengthening death penalty standards, organized by Penal Reform International and the Permanent Representations of Switzerland and Mexico. QUNO Representative Laurel Townhead spoke at the event on the impact of death penalty on children of parents sentenced to death. Further details about the event can be found in the flyer below.

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

August 2014

QUNO raises the rights of prisoners and their families at the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council

QUNO has raised the issue of the rights of the families of persons deprived of their liberty and of children of parents sentenced to death at the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.  These issues have been raised by QUNO in the General Debate and in the Panel on the Human Rights of Persons Deprived of their Liberty. This Panel was the first time the Council has dedicated time to considering the full range of human rights violations experienced by people in detention and made reference to the impact on their families including their children. 

Laurel Townhead, Representative for Human Rights and Refugees, delivered three oral statements, on the topics of women in prisons, older prisoners and children of parents sentenced to death or executed. Video of the three statements are available below:

  • Statement on women in prison given at the Panel on Persons Deprived of their Liberty
    (statement begins at 01:24:00)
  • Statement on children of parents sentenced to death at the General Debate
    (statement begins at 00:07:00) 

     

  • Statement given at the Interactive Dialogue with Independent Expert on Older Persons.
    (statement begins at 01:48:11)

 

Related Links

Related Files

Related Areas of Work

August 2014

A new Human Rights and Refugees Representative at QUNO Geneva

In February, Rachel Brett who has been Representative, Human Rights and Refugees (HRR) at QUNO Geneva since 1993 announced her plan to retire.  After an international selection process, Laurel Townhead has been appointed to this position from 18 August; we extend a warm welcome to Laurel. Laurel obtained her Master's degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex in 2003. She has experience, among other issues, of work on women in prison, children of prisoners, conscientious objection to military service and support to asylum seekers. She was at QUNO Geneva as HRR Programme Assistant and Project Assistant in 2005-7 and comes to us now from her position as Policy & Campaigns Manager at the UK NGO Women in Prison that she has held since 2008. Laurel has been an attender of Peckham Quaker Meeting in London for several years.

Rachel will continue to work with us part-time as Adviser, HRR during a significant transition period. Her outstanding work has improved the lives of many, changed attitudes, built understanding and led to new international agreements. Rachel has worked on the needs of child soldiers, women prisoners, conscientious objectors to military service, stateless people, and children of parents sentenced to death.

Related Areas of Work

July 2014

Open Letter regarding the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

QUNO partners, Amnesty International and the Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC), have written an open letter regarding the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples to be held in New York in September. The letter expresses concern at developments in the run-up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples that appear to run against this principle of participation of representatives of Indigenous Peoples. They also express concern at statements by member states during consultations around the document, that appear to be aimed at weakening the rights contained in the Declaration, and the status of the Declaration itself.

Related Links

Related Files

Related Areas of Work