Timeline

Peacebuilding & Prevention of Violent Conflict

QUNO seeks to encourage a more holistic approach to peacebuilding and the prevention of violent conflict at the UN that takes into account local perspectives and the rebuilding of relationships. This includes a focus on the connections between peace, development, and the environment.
March 2017

QUNO and the Centre for International Cooperation Cohost a Discussion on the 'Roadmap for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies'

On 15 March, QUNO and the Center for International Cooperation (CIC) of New York University cohosted a meeting at Quaker House where CIC presented a discussion paper: Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies: A Call to Action to Change our World. The meeting encouraged an in-depth discussion of the paper’s proposals and their overall expected impact, and participants shared their insights and expertise with the authors.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declares, “there can be no sustainable development without peace, and no peace without sustainable development.” While SDG 16 seeks to “foster peaceful, just, and inclusive societies,” there are strong links and connections across many of the Agenda’s goals that, together, contribute towards the promotion of peace, justice, and inclusivity. The linkages between these different goals have often become referred to as “SDG16+.” The interconnected and universal nature of the SDGs was a key point made by Mr. Andrew Tomlinson, UN Representative and QUNO Director, who facilitated the meeting’s discussion. Mr. Tomlinson also reflected on how moving the 2030 Agenda forward, particularly SDG16+, has the potential to be transformative for global affairs, and have the most far reaching impact across people’s lives throughout the world.

Participants discussed how the paper aims to provide a starting point for a roadmap to achieve the 2030 Agenda’s “peaceful, just and inclusive societies” mandate, which seeks to turn the ambition of the SDG16+ targets into reality. During the meeting, Mr. David Steven of CIC provided an overview of why a roadmap is needed and what impact it can deliver, setting out several recommendations for its structure and content. This roadmap process is being led by The Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a group of UN member states, international organizations, and other partners, convened by the governments of Brazil, Sierra Leone and Switzerland, in cooperation with CIC.

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March 2017

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

The international community of Friends set up the Quaker UN offices 70 years ago to support the United Nations (UN) in its work to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. 

Recent proposals from the new US administration and from the US Congress to reduce US engagement with the UN could damage its ability to carry out its life-saving work. These proposals include draft Executive Orders and legislation in the House and Senate proposing significant funding cuts and other forms of disengagement with the UN.

Global military spending is $1.6 trillion, dwarfing the $8 billion UN peacekeeping budget and total UN-related spending of $48 billion. While the US is the largest financial contributor to the United Nations, its annual total contribution to the UN and its agencies represents only 0.1% of the total Federal Budget. Cuts in US funding would put at risk the UN’s important work to address the most critical and pressing issues facing the world.

While it remains to be seen how the various draft bills and draft Executive Orders may or may not progress, the existence of such measures shows the growing uncertain environment facing the UN and global efforts for peace more broadly. 

QUNO has produced the below background document, which will be updated as appropriate, to provide additional information and resources to learn more about this pressing issue.

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

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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

Priority areas for QUNO at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council

The 34th session of the Human Rights Council starts today in Geneva and QUNO will be following it closely.

At the opening session, the UN Secretary General, the President of the General Assembly and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights addressed States. In his speech, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reminded States of their commitments to human rights during a turbulent political era:

To those political actors who… threaten the multilateral system or intend to withdraw from parts of it, the sirens of historical experience ought to ring clear. We will not sit idly by. For we have much to lose, so much to protect. And our rights, the rights of others, the very future of our planet cannot, must not be thrown aside by these reckless political profiteers’ (full speech here)

This session will be significant for several of QUNO’s programme areas:

Peacebuilding and Human Rights

QUNO welcomes the decision of the Human Rights Council to address the issue of “The contribution of human rights to peacebuilding through enhancing dialogue and international cooperation for the promotion of human rights” at the High-Level Mainstreaming Panel on the 27th February. QUNO has longstanding programmes on both Peace and Disarmament and Human Rights and Refugees with relation to the UN and has been working for several years, in collaboration with our colleagues in New York, specifically to promote and strengthen the link between human rights, peacebuilding, and sustaining peace. We look forward to the making an oral statement at the Mainstreaming Panel, with our core message addressing the importance of better collaboration between human rights and sustaining peace. We will emphasize that economic, social and cultural rights are crucial to addressing the root causes of destructive conflict.

Human rights and Refugees

For the Human Rights and Refugees Programme, at this session we have a particular focus on child’s rights in the context of the death penalty. On 14th March, there will be a High-Level Panel on the death penalty, looking at how it relates to the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. For this, we have prepared a written statement exploring how children of parents sentenced to death or executed might be considered victims of torture under international law. Our other main priority area during the Council is the human rights of refugees and migrants, and we will be closely following an Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on migration to be held on 10th March.  

Food and Sustainability

QUNO’s Food and Sustainability Programme is particularly interested in the link of human rights and biodiversity. In a written submission to Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, John Knox, we emphasized the importance of agricultural biodiversity for the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, such as the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation. The Special Rapporteur will be presenting his report on biodiversity on March 7, 2017 during an Interactive Dialogue. The F&S Programme is looking forward to attending this session and to delivering an oral statement on the role of small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity.  

Human Impacts of Climate Change

QUNO’s Human Impacts of Climate Change programme looks forward to the panel discussion on Climate Change and the Rights of the Child on 2nd March and we will be making a statement. The very heart of our message is that climate change is an intergenerational justice concern that critically needs immediate, sufficient and rights-based climate action to address the root causes.

We will be underlining the importance of recognising the current and future threats that climate change poses on vulnerable communities, children, and future generations by referring to the latest climate science to emphasize the consequences and effects of anthropogenic climate change is currently having on human rights. Recognising that human rights are under threat- including the right to life, health, food, water, adequate housing, and self-determination, articulates what is at stake and that this could also have serious repercussions with regard to peace and the threat of violence. 

However, this does not need to happen as we will reiterate the urgent need for a sufficient and rights-based climate action, by calling upon States to act urgently and justly, to protect our children and all our future generations.

See below for links to our written statements. We will also be delivering oral statements during the session.

 

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February 2017

Chinese Perspectives on Africa's Peace and Security Challenges: Views from the Field

QUNO, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) convened a two-day workshop in New York that provided a forum for academics from various Chinese institutions to share their research and perspectives on peace and security issues in Africa with a broad policy audience. With support from a joint SSRC-AFSC pilot fellowship program, six Chinese PhD scholars completed research in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Zimbabwe and at the African Union where they looked at China’s engagement in UN peace operations, regional partnerships, and the role of China’s commercial interests in sustaining peace. In addition to co-sponsoring the workshop, QUNO’s UN Representative for the Prevention of Violent Conflict, Rachel Madenyika, participated as a discussant, sharing her reflections on the role of business in prevention and sustaining peace.

China continues to rapidly increase its participation in UN peace operations, and is becoming more involved in supporting peace operations and peacebuilding efforts in conflict affected countries and regions, especially in Africa. During the workshop, participants reflected on how in China there is an increasing focus on the importance of investing in development projects as a way to foster peace and address root causes of conflict. Chinese development actors and investors moving these projects forward face challenges with identifying and understanding the drivers and root causes of conflict. 

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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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January 2017

Sustaining Peace and the 2030 Agenda: Opportunities for Prevention

On the occasion of the High Level Debate, “Building Sustainable Peace for All”, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform held an informal, off the record lunch discussion on “Sustaining Peace and the 2030 Agenda: Opportunities for Prevention” to further explore avenues for strengthening prevention at the UN through leveraging synergies between Sustaining Peace and the 2030 Agenda. The meeting sought to identify what opportunities exist for promoting civil society-UN cooperation, and how to ensure that such efforts can have a direct impact on the populations in focus. The conversation brought together CSO perspectives and experiences on the ground, UN actors and Member States. 

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December 2016

QUNO Representative interviewed by QuakerSpeak to reflect on Quaker approach on Sustainability

QUNO UN Representative, Rachel Madenyika, had the opportunity to sit down with QuakerSpeak and share her insight on Quaker work on and approaches to sustainability. 

In her interview, Rachel shares that, to her, sustainability centers on simplicity and the quest for lasting peace. She notes that in her capacity as a UN Representative for QUNO she has worked on peace and sustainability issues on different tracks. From this she has found that what makes the Quaker approach to sustainability unique is the ability to not only work in their communities, but also to bridge gaps and work with people from all walks of life.

Watch the whole video here.

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November 2016

QUNO participates at the UNDP High Level Seminar on Conflict Prevention, Dialogue and Reconciliation in Africa

QUNO participated in a 3-day seminar in Johannesburg South Africa, on conflict prevention, dialogue and reconciliation in Africa. Hosted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the seminar gathered UN experts, private sector practitioners and civil society actors to provide UNDP leadership at the country level with new thinking and approaches to facilitating conflict prevention efforts, national dialogue and reconciliation mechanisms in Africa.  The Seminar created an opportunity for participants to address the critical questions regarding successes, challenges, opportunities for conflict prevention, dialogue and reconciliation as structures for providing democratic governance, preventing violence and peacebuilding in the continent. QUNO UN Representative on Prevention, Rachel Madenyika presented in a workshop entitled “Who ‘does’ dialogue and where? Exploring the key stakeholders and their approaches.”  The presentation highlighted the importance of linking local, national, regional and global actors in conflict prevention as well as looked at the role of Quakers in reconciliation and dialogue.

QUNO welcomed the opportunity to be part of this High Level event and is looking forward to the outcomes and next steps of this important agenda.

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November 2016

Another Successful meeting by the CSO-UN Prevention Platform

QUNO is a part of the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform, which recently concluded an extensive mapping exercise within the UN system to gain a better understanding of how different UN agencies and departments in New York conceptualize prevention. The mapping exercise included: identifying what prevention tools are available and lacking; pinpointing keys to success or failure; noting how to improve communication between UN Headquarters and the field and foster more coordinated analysis; determining the main obstacles to UN-civil society cooperation and how to overcome fragmentation within the system. As a follow up to the mapping, the Prevention Platform held the first of three meetings in October which looked at the different UN actors' perspectives, approaches, etc. on prevention more broadly. Most recently, the Prevention Platform held its second discussion focusing on 'Civil society perspectives on obstacles and opportunities to better support the UN's work on prevention' at Quaker House. 

The Civil Society UN Prevention Platform aims to support the UN’s prevention agenda through strengthening coordination and information sharing between civil society organizations (CSOs) and the UN at all levels, in particular through close collaboration with the Department of Political Affairs. The platform seeks to identify concrete, practical steps to enhance the UN and CSO's collective capacity to carry out preventive work, through sharing examples of best practices, identifying areas of potential collaboration on thematic issues and country cases, and supporting UN efforts to bridge early warning and early action. The platform considers conflict prevention broadly as encompassing inclusive activities aimed at addressing the root causes of conflict and supporting societies in preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict, at both a structural and an operational level.

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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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October 2016

"Making peace with the past: transforming broken relationships" publication launch

The Quaker United Nations Office, together with Conciliation Resources and the Delegation of the European Union to the UN, hosted a successful launch of the third Accord publication, "Making peace with the past: transforming broken relationships." The event involved representatives from the UN, Member States and civil society. 

The publication reflects on practical approaches and challenges of addressing the legacies of violent conflict, including various activities intended to promote reconciliation, support justice and dealing with the past focusing a four country cases,  Georgia, Columbia, Philippines and Northern Ireland and stresses the value of reconciliation at the fore front in peace processes. 

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October 2016

Sustaining Peace

QUNO hosted a meeting for the Group of Friends of Sustaining Peace, chaired by the Permanent Mission of Mexico.

The sustaining peace agenda is the outcome of a landmark UN agreement (resolution 2282, below), which takes a wider view of the roles peacebuilding and prevention of violent conflict activities will play moving forward. 

The preamble of the dual resolution defines sustaining peace as encompassing "activities aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict, addressing root causes, assisting parties to conflict to end hostilities, ensuring national reconciliation, and moving towards recovery, reconstruction and development.”

This new concept has the potential to fundamentally reorient how the UN conducts its efforts to sustain peace, because it demands a UN system which is coherent in its organization, practices sustained engagement and coordination in interventions and aims to accomplish the spirit of the UN Charter.

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October 2016

In & Around the UN - New York's quarterly Newsletter

Our New York office is pleased to share our newest Newsletter, In & Around the UN, featuring articles on the new UN Secretary General, integrating human rights and sustaining peace, the new global framework for peace and more.

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October 2016

QUNO Submits Contribution to Special Rapporteur on Human Rights & the Environment

Following up on a public consultation on Biodiversity and Human Rights at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, QUNO submitted a contribution to Special Rapporteur John Knox’s upcoming report on biodiversity and human rights.

The contribution focuses on the application of a human rights approach to agricultural biodiversity. QUNO finds the latter to be a critical subset of biodiversity, upon which all of humanity depends. Small-scale farmers are the active managers and developers of the majority of this diversity worldwide. QUNO believes that a human rights interpretation of agricultural biodiversity may encourage States to proactively develop legislation, programs and policies that are supportive of small-scale farmers.

QUNO therefore calls upon Mr. Knox to consider including agricultural biodiversity in his report on human rights obligations as they relate to the protection of biological diversity and ecosystems to be released in March 2017.

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September 2016

QUNO Attends WTO Public Forum 2016 on Inclusive Trade

During the last week of September 2016, QUNO attended the WTO Public Forum on Inclusive Trade. Throughout various plenary sessions and side events, QUNO followed the discussions on how to enable a wider range of individuals and businesses to participate in the trading systems and how WTO rules can help to ensure everyone benefits from trade. In particular, QUNO paid close attention to the panel discussions on the roles of agriculture and small scale farmers in today’s global trading system. 

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Event of Note
September 2016

Peacebuilding Statement for International Day of Peace

In honour of the International Day of Peace, QUNO and peacebuilding organisations from around the world have issued a shared statement to UN member states on the importance of embracing the new global framework for peace. 

Over the last year, states have made significant new commitments to addressing the root causes of conflict and displacement, in both the 2030 Agenda and the Sustaining Peace resolutions. The statement calls on governments to embrace this new mandate and to mainstream peace policy, implement peace at home, foster peace around the world, support funding for peace and to protect and support civil society inclusion.

 

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July 2016

QUNO engages with religious peacebuilders at UN event on violent extremism

The role of religion in violent conflict has received new attention in the context of recent terrorist attacks - but religiously motivated actors have long been involved in community and national level peacebuilding. In July, QUNO New York Director Andrew Tomlinson spoke at a UN event organised by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding entitled "Turning the Tide: Engaging Religiously-Motivated Peacebuilders in Conflict Zones",  alongside peacebuilders from Sri Lanka, Colombia and Afghanistan.

QUNO's comments stressed the central role of religious actors in strengthening the social fabric in many conflict-affected societies, and the supporting role that the international community can play, particularly in pushing back against the shrinking of civil society space that is affecting many countries today.  Tomlinson also emphasized the importance of approaches that  transform the position of women and respect human rights. 

In his speech, he also referred to the term "organized and politicized violence," which QUNO's sister organization, the American Friends Service Committee, is suggesting as an alternative to the often distorting lens of "countering violent extremism."

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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 hosts ECOWAS Ambassador to the UN

QUNO facilitated a conversation at Quaker House in New York for Ambassador Leon Tanou Kone, the Permanent Observer of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with member states and UN staff. Ambassador Kone gave a useful update on the security, climate change and migration issues in West Africa. In light of recent discussions on the need for greater collaboration between the UN and regional organisations, this meeting was an opportunity for the UN community to act upon this recommendation through an informal, in-depth dialogue with the ECOWAS Ambassador. 

This meeting was the second in a series of meetings taking place at Quaker House that bring UN actors and African regional and sub-regional organisations together to discuss issues of shared concern, including around the prevention of violent conflict. 

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