Areas of Work

Peace and Development

Peace is not only an enabler of development; it is a development objective in itself.  QUNO's approach to peace and stability, in the context of sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is rooted in the acknowledgment of violence as a fundamental dimension of human suffering. The need to address the drivers of violence is most clear in the case of societies impacted by chronic instability and violent conflict, where development objectives cannot be achieved without paying attention to issues such as governance, strengthening institutions, and inclusion, as well as a range of external factors. However, the universal nature of the new goal framework requires us to consider approaches to promoting peace across all societies.

Ongoing Activities

  • QUNO is working in coordination with civil society organizations from around the world to promote  recognition of the central role of peace and stability in the new framework for sustainable development. This includes hosting events, making presentations, bilateral discussions with member states and UN officials, and strategy coordination.

Recent Timeline Events

June 2020

Strengthening Prevention Tools: Inclusive Approaches to Supporting Mediation

As the fourth meeting in the Civil Society – UN Prevention Platform’s 2020 discussion series on prevention, QUNO co-hosted a discussion, Strengthening Prevention Tools: Inclusive Approaches to Supporting Mediation. The Platform welcomed over 50 global participants from the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), civil society, and Member States to this lively and informative conversation. Given that mediation processes involve the coordination and participation of multiple actors, this meeting provided a candid space for exchange between participants as they reflected on best practices and remaining challenges for inclusive approaches. 

The discussion highlighted key factors to consider when developing inclusive approaches to mediation, particularly in the COVID-19 pandemic and changing geopolitical environment. During the discussion, civil society, UN colleagues and Member States collectively considered that mediation and peace should be thought of as a ‘building block process,’ cumulative efforts that are multi-tracked and complimentary, rather than just agreements signed around a table. It was agreed that in order for the inclusion of women, youth, and other historically excluded groups to have maximum impact, mediation efforts need to provide explicit strategies and spaces for these voices. Participants noted that the internationalization of conflict and multitude of stakeholders often drowns out local voices. While mediation differs in each conflict, several participants highlighted that it is at the community level that mediation efforts are the strongest. As national level processes often stall out, grassroots mediation provides avenues for prevention, sharing resources, and opportunities to co-exist after a conflict.  

The Civil Society – UN Prevention Platform looks forward to future conversations in the 2020 Prevention discussion series. Learn more about the other discussions in this series below. 

Taking Stock of Prevention: Progress Achieved and Lessons Learned

Dialogue and Mutual Understanding: the Role of Young People in Preventing Conflict

Transformative Gender Approaches to Conflict Prevention During COVID-19

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May 2020

QUNO Directors’ Letter on the Impact of COVID-19

Dear Friends,

The spread of COVID-19 has changed our world. We hold in the light those made ill by the new virus, their families and friends, and the dedicated people caring for all of us. Our hearts go out to the millions of people who are suffering as societies struggle to respond, including those who have lost their livelihoods and the most vulnerable among us.

As we write at the start of May 2020, much is still unclear. Yet, as we work every day with our UN colleagues and partners as they grapple with the operational and policy demands of a new global crisis, we find that the insights and values that have shaped QUNO’s work since the founding of the United Nations 75 years ago continue to support and guide our efforts in ways that remain relevant and effective.

Most clear is the urgent need to strengthen and increase support for the mechanisms of international cooperation, which serve to safeguard the most vulnerable in all our communities. In the face of global challenges, it is imperative to find more ways to come together to work on global solutions, despite restrictions. In the face of a crisis of this scale, our interdependence is self-evident and essential.  As Quakers, our deep faith in the value of every individual inspires our work.

While the physical circumstances of QUNO’s daily actions have altered, the motivation and need for our work is unchanged. Around the world, people are striving to build communities based on peace, justice and inclusion, and this work deserves the support of a rules-based international system that protects and fosters these efforts. In the midst of rapid change, QUNO staff will continue to work quietly with international policymakers, guided by Quaker principles of peace, truth, justice, equality, stewardship and simplicity, and upheld by your encouragement and support.

In Friendship,

Andrew Tomlinson                                       Jonathan Woolley

Director, QUNO New York                           Director, QUNO Geneva

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May 2020

Transformative Gender Approaches to Conflict Prevention During COVID-19

On 20 May, QUNO co-hosted “Prevention and Implications of COVID-19: Learning from Transformative Gender Approaches,” an online discussion that brought together over 40 UN, civil society, and Member State experts as part of the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform’s 2020 discussion series on prevention.  

As the third event in the Platform’s discussion series, this conversation engaged in joint learning on what conflict prevention looks like from a gender perspective during COVID-19. The Platform was particularly pleased to bring together a wide range of diverse voices and perspectives, including those of women peacebuilders, leadership within the UN system, and Member States. Speakers highlighted existing strategies and identified how they can be translated in different contexts, noting gaps and opportunities for the provision of appropriate conflict prevention capacities. The discussion brought forth an outpouring of concrete transformative gender practices and recommendations for conflict prevention, especially emphasizing the need to increase women’s access to leadership opportunities at all levels of decision making. 

Prevention is at the core of a transformative gender approach driven by local women’s experiences, traditionally focusing on the principles of human security, local ownership, and people-centered approaches. This calls for decisive action to address political, social, and economic root causes of violence deeply entwined in gendered power disparities within communities.  The COVID-19 pandemic further illustrates the need to apply a prevention lens to the ongoing humanitarian and health responses and to support and uplift women’s leadership at every step. Such measures will contribute to strengthening social cohesion and transformative economic and social recovery for communities. 

The Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform looks forward to continued constructive engagement with the UN community during this dynamic period of COVID-19 to collectively support effective prevention at all levels. 

Learn more about the other discussions in this series:

Taking Stock of Prevention: Progress Achieved and Lessons Learned

Dialogue and Mutual Understanding: the Role of Young People in Preventing Conflict

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