Areas of Work

Building Peace

Building peace is a long term commitment and requires changes at the systems level, as well as in behaviour and attitudes of individuals within those systems. QUNO Geneva seeks to support change in the way that States and the United Nation system perceive and respond to conflict and violence. 

By bringing the experience and insight of local peacebuilders to the international level and engaging those whose actions can lead to destructive conflict, QUNO seeks to encourage a more preventive approach to building peace. An important part of our work in this area is to foster the integration of approaches that could make peacebuilding, and the prevention of destructive conflict, more effective both within the UN and on the ground.

Together with colleagues in the Human Rights and Refugees programme and QUNO New York, we work on improving communication and collaboration between human rights processes and mechanisms and the peace and security institutions at the UN. Human rights and peacebuilding approaches are mutually reinforcing and we seek to encourage civil society at both local and international level to realize the potential for more effective peace and justice work by drawing on these complementary approaches.

An important part of QUNO’s peacebuilding work is carried out through the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform (GPP), of which QUNO is a founding member and part of the Management and Steering Committees.

Recent Timeline Events

April 2019

QUNO speaks during the first Intersessional seminar on the contribution of the HRC to the prevention of human rights violations

In April, QUNO's Florence Foster was invited to speak during the first Intersessional seminar on the contribution of the Human Rights Council to the prevention of human rights violations (resolution 38/18). Florence noted that human rights violations are both the cause and effect of destructive conflict, and they therefore play a central role in early warning, prevention of destructive conflict, and in providing the basis for accountability through to rebuilding societies.

For the past several years, QUNO's Peace and Disarmament programme, has worked to explore how human rights generally, and the UN human rights mechanisms, are central throughout the peace/conflict continuum. In her remarks, Florence highlighted how the UN's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in particular could contribute to prevention and to sustaining peace more broadly. Her observations were twofold:

  1. The UPR, as a process, could in and of itself be a facilitator of open dialogue and understanding, a key feature of peacebuilding.
  2. The UPR, as a platform for inclusive context analysis through the universality of themes it covers, could lend itself to bridging between human rights and sustaining peace.

In order to move forward towards better leveraging the UPR’s prevention potential, QUNO recommended the following:

  • OHCHR and UPR info should increase participation of peacebuilding and social cohesion actors throughout their Standard operating Procedures when supporting civil society, UN as well as Governmental preparatory and implementation processes – this would enable compilations, recommendations and implementation activities to have a prevention lens.
  • OHCHR should make a similar explicit mention of this inclusive participation in the directives sent out to state officials, UN Country Teams and Resident Coordinators.
  • UN and Member States counterparts from the in the development and peace & security spheres in New York should be made aware of the UPR and its value added to prevention across the system.
  • Recommending States should reach across the Atlantic and to their in-country representation systematically throughout the UPR Cycle to bridge silos and enable a holistic approach that draws on conflict analysis and peacebuilding practices to sustain peace.
  • Throughout the system, actors should leverage the moments the UPR offers for exchange AND use the information in the UPR compilations for early warning of risks of violent conflict across the system.

The Peacebuilding Commission could for instance create a space for informal discussions, using the country cycles of the UPR and leverage that opportunity to further their own analysis and processes, and explore how the peace and security pillar could support in the implementation of certain recommendations. The Caucus group of member states could also facilitate more of these discussions in both Geneva and New York.

The full text of Florence's remarks are available in the file below.

 

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November 2018

Integrating Human Rights, Nonviolent Action & Peacebuilding to Sustain Peace

This panel, organized by ​the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Berghof Foundation and the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) during Geneva Peace Week, discussed how we can integrate human rights, nonviolent action and peacebuilding to sustain peace by bridging the silos and shifting the mindset of how civil society participates through nonviolent action and peacebuilding.

Examples of how this is done came from practitioners as well as policy level experts:

  • Veronique Dudouet, Program Director for Conflict Transformation Research, Berghof
  • Lisa Schirch, Research Director, Toda Peace Institute
  • Millicent Otieno, Founder and the Director of Local Capacities for Peace International
  • Shaazka Beyerle, Senior Research Advisor, Program on Nonviolent Action, United States Institute of Peace
  • Florence Foster, Quaker United Nations Office representative for Peace and Disarmament

All agreed that to leverage true transformation towards sustaining peace, the complementarity of the human rights legal framework, political/elite peacebuilding processes and social movements needs to be acknowledged and put into practice at all levels.

The full article is available below (PDF document).

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QUNO Geneva through its Peace and Disarmament Programme continues to promote integrated action between peacebuilding and human rights actors on the ground and in the UN system. A pilot initiate notably brought together both peacebuilding and human rights civil society organisations to interact and engage in the UPR process and to promote input by UN Peace and Security agencies to the process and increased use of UPR outputs and awareness of implementation processes in the work of those UN agencies. Similar follow-up projects are being developed.

The full report of the pilot imitative is available below (hyperlink).

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September 2018

QUNO delivers statement at the 39th HRC, calling for a shift in mindset and practice to improve prevention through the UPR

In September, QUNO delivered a statement during the 39th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council, calling for a shift in mindset and practice to improve prevention through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. As human rights violations are often at the root of destructive conflict, the UPR constitutes an important entry point to collaboratively address violations, that if left unaddressed, could lead to violent conflict. However, the lack of participation by peacebuilders throughout the process as well as concerns about the motives of closer coordination across silos undermines the effectiveness of the UPR to sustain peace. The full text of the statement is available below.

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