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

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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June 2018

Integrating Human Rights and Sustaining Peace – The Role of the Universal Periodic Review

On 26 June, QUNO, in collaboration with the Permanent Missions of Germany and Switzerland, who co-chair the cross-regional Human Rights/Conflict Prevention Caucuses in New York and Geneva, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), co-hosted a discussion on “Integrating Human Rights and Sustaining Peace – The Role of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)”. As the 2016 sustaining peace resolutions adopted by the Security Council and General Assembly, and the Secretary-General’s 2018 Report on the same subject, call upon Member States and the UN to consider the human rights dimension of peacebuilding, this event provided a timely opportunity for civil society, UN agencies, and Member States to discuss how the UPR can contribute to better integrating human rights and sustaining peace. 

Hosted at UN Headquarters, this high-level meeting began with a presentation by Florence Foster of QUNO-Geneva on a recent study entitled “Integrating Human Rights and Sustaining Peace” exploring how the UPR is an inclusive, universal and the least contentious Human Rights Council process, and how its recommendations can be developed and implemented to prevent human rights violations that if left unaddressed could lead to conflict. The report recommends greater attention to be paid to conflict analysis throughout the UPR process, a shift in mindset away from the fragmented perception of human rights as a prerogative of Geneva versus peacebuilding and security as a prerogative of New York, and the levelling of dialogue spaces for human rights conversations addressing sustaining peace matters. 

The presentation was followed by an interactive panel discussion including Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) Andrew Gilmour, Head of the OHCHR Office in New York, ASG Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Head of the Peacebuilding Support Office, and Katy Thompson, Governance & Peace Building, Conflict Prevention Team Leader at the UN Development Programme, as well as the Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the United Nations, Ambassador Jorge Skinner-Klee. 

QUNO looks forward to its continued collaboration with all actors on better integrating human rights and sustaining peace, in particular with both Human Rights/Conflict Prevention Caucuses.  

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