Areas of Work

Inclusion of Local Perspectives

QUNO seeks to be a bridge between civil society actors in the field and the UN and member states in New York and advocates for the inclusion of  such perspectives in peacebuilding processes. By facilitating visits of civil society and non-governmental organisations engaged in local peacebuilding and prevention activities, as well as through quiet diplomacy, QUNO is working to improve the inclusion of local perspectives at the UN.

Ongoing Activities

  • QUNO hosts informal, off the record discussions on the situation in Burundi and conducts quiet diplomacy with the UN in order to support civil society participation and perspectives in peacebuilding processes including the UN Peacebuilding Commission.

  • QUNO plays a facilitative role bringing civil society leaders from inside Myanmar together with UN staff and diplomats. These informal meetings provide an opportunity for Myanmar peacemaker’s to share local expertise and perspectives on the UN’s role and contribution to long-term peacebuilding and prevention efforts in Myanmar.

  • QUNO's focus on the DRC includes facilitating regular off the record discussions at Quaker House for members of the NGO community in New York and UN experts.

  • We advocate for the inclusion of local perspectives in UN processes on the ground and at UN headquarters

Recent Timeline Events

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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September 2019

People, Planet…and Peace: A shared statement by peacebuilding organizations

21 September marks the International Day of Peace, which was established in 1981 by a unanimous resolution in the UN’s General Assembly. To mark the day, QUNO and over 100 additional peacebuilding organizations from throughout the world issued a statement to United Nations Member States that brings attention to peace concerns. 

“By the end of 2018, over 70 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations, and the annual global economic cost of violence now exceeds $14 trillion USD," said Andrew Tomlinson, director of the Quaker United Nations Office in New York. "We need to redouble our collective efforts to prevent violent conflict by addressing its roots, and to structure our response to crisis in ways that support local capacities, respect human rights and align with long-term plans to build sustainable peace."

The statement calls on governments and the international community to: 

  • Move from commitments to action on peace in the 2030 Agenda and across the three UN pillars;     
  • Align crisis response with longer term prevention and peacebuilding efforts; 
  • Protect and support civil society in fostering sustainable peace; 
  • Think local and act global: recommit to multilateralism as a safeguard for the most vulnerable. 

In addition, QUNO distributed a press release on the statement, which was shared widely with media contacts covering the United Nations. 

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