Areas of Work

High Level Policy Engagement

Complementing its work on specific themes and countries, QUNO also engages in broader policy debates on the shape and future of peacebuilding and the prevention of violent conflict at the UN.  QUNO frequently works with leaders in peacebuilding practice around the world to bring their experience to inform UN policymaking.  QUNO is often asked to speak at both public and informal events, and will also occasionally comment publicly on subjects of particular importance to Friends.

Ongoing Activities

  • QUNO partners with a wide network of peacebuilding practitioners and think tanks around the world, bringing their expertise to inform UN debate. Combining practitioner experience with the perspectives of local voices from conflict-affected communities helps to broaden the discussion at the UN and root it in the reality of the lives of those affected by violence.
  • Since 2012, QUNO has engaged with the high-level UN discussion around the role of peace and stability in sustainable development and the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
  • QUNO coordinates the New York Peacebuilding Group (NYPG), a gathering of organisations engaged on various peace related issues at the UN and in country.
  • QUNO is a founding member of the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform (GPP), together with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP), and Interpeace. The platform aims to build bridges between International Geneva, the United Nations peacebuilding architecture in New York, and peacebuilding activities in the field. It facilitates interaction on peacebuilding between different institutions and sectors, and seeks to advance new knowledge and understanding of peacebuilding issues and contexts.
  • From time to time, QUNO engages with emerging issues and situations where its constituents are looking for information and insight on UN perspectives. For example, QUNO New York has followed the bid for Palestinian Statehood at the UN and has issued various resources on the topic.

Recent Timeline Events

December 2019

QUNO NY Director addresses the annual session of the Peacebuilding Commission

Every year, the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) holds an annual session that brings together UN and Member State colleagues to focus on timely and key peacebuilding challenges and opportunities. This year's meeting, held on 4 December, focused on peacebuilding in Africa, particularly in the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin and Mano River Union regions. Key issues in focus included the transborder threats of armed extremism, underdevelopment, climate change and gender-based violence. As in past years, QUNO was one of a small number of civil society organizations that participated, lending our voice and expertise to this UN discussion. 

While modest progress has been made by the PBC in recent years in the fulfillment of its mandate to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies, its gains have been inconsistent. QUNO Director, Andrew Tomlinson, reminded the Peacebuilding Commission, “despite the regional nature of the issues, the UN is still struggling to move on from an approach that is fragmented, organized country by country and using different tools, with the result that the UN engagement has varied greatly, driven not  by the individual needs of the country but of the vagaries of the particular UN model that is being applied (...) and these differences in mode of engagement can have an enormous impact on the host countries.”  

Mr. Tomlinson stressed the need for people-centered approaches to be at the heart of all peacebuilding endeavors and for the international community to “not lose track of the tools at the heart of these efforts – of a focus on strengthening the relationships between people, their communities and their governments, on the core actions of trauma healing, reconciliation and trust building, and of fostering true social, political and economic inclusion, including that of women and young people.”

To watch QUNO’s intervention at the PBC, please view this link, beginning at (1:38.25).

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October 2019

QUNO participates on AFSC-led panel on restricted civic space at annual Peace Con event

Focusing on the theme, “Seizing the Moment for Peace in a Disrupted World,” the annual Alliance for Peacebuilding gathering, Peace Con, provided a timely opportunity for convening the global peacebuilding community to explore a range of issues impacting the field. One such topic that was a reoccurring theme for discussion across sessions was the global closing of civic space and the adverse impact this is having on initiatives to build and sustain peace. QUNO NY’s UN Representative for Peacebuilding, Megan Schmidt, was excited to participate in the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) panel on just this issue, under the theme of “Unrestricting Space for Peacebuilding and Social Justice.”

Joined by fellow AFSC colleagues and partners, Megan shared her learning and experience on the issue of civic space restrictions, drawing from her work as a member of the Joint UN-Civil Society Working Group that is developing system-wide United Nations Community Engagement Guidelines (CEG). She provided an overview of the CEG process, sharing that, “at the heart of this process has been the recognition of the centrality of inclusivity, and that civil society needs to be included and heard if the UN is going to develop guidance that intends to truly support change in how this body engages with CSOs at a local level.” This approach included a global survey with over 300 respondents, an online consultation with over 400 registered participants and over 40 video consultations with colleagues in select countries.

When reflecting on the input received by partners throughout the world, Megan noted that the issue of restricted space was raised as the number two greatest challenge for civil society, following organizational capacity difficulties. This ever-growing restriction is not confined to a specific country or region, or to any sector. Unfortunately, as Megan and other panelists noted, the closing of civic space is a global trend that is putting peacebuilding initiatives at risk.

In the discussion on ways to “unrestrict” civic space, Megan shared the emerging messages from the CEG process around avenues to build or strengthen partnership and engagement between the UN and civil society. Additionally, she shared recommendations on what the larger civil society community can do to address these issues. As she noted, “we have a role to play and a responsibility to support our partners who are facing these restrictions head on day in and day out, with strength and bravery.”

QUNO was excited to be a part of this panel and is appreciative to AFSC for this opportunity. We look forward to continued partnership together on the urgent topic of unrestricting civic space to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

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October 2019

In & Around the UN

Read QUNO New York's newsletter, In & Around the UN, featuring articles on:

  • Opening of the High-Level Political Forum
  • The Quaker Peace & Social Witness visit to New York
  • QUNO's participation in New York Yearly Meeting summer sessions

and more from New York.

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