QUNO Geneva understands peacebuilding as both the development of human and institutional capacity for resolving conflicts without violence, and the transformation of the conditions that generate destructive conflict. Therefore, in this latter sense, it must include work to prevent destructive conflict.
Recent Timeline Events
Building on its long-term work on integrating human rights and sustaining peace, QUNO has been supporting work led by the three rapporteurs in charge of implementing resolution 38/18 on ‘the contribution of the Human Rights Council (HRC) to the prevention of human rights violations’. In particular, QUNO has focused on how the HRC can more effectively work with all UN pillars to prevent those violations which, if left unaddressed, could lead to violent conflict.
To this end, QUNO has highlighted positive ways forward, such as a broader inclusion of actors (such as peacebuilders) throughout HRC mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review, a better integration of mandate holders in the Peacebuilding Commission’s discussions, or the systematic involvement of Resident Coordinators - key actors in upholding the UN Charter on the ground - in Council discussions. These elements are echoed in the rapporteurs’ final report, which was presented at the 43rd Session of the HRC.
With the Call to Action for Human Rights by the Secretary General, who highlighted that “respect for human rights is an essential crisis prevention mechanism” and the Peacebuilding Architecture Review underway, 2020 provides a good opportunity to realise these changes.
We therefore urge the Council and Member States to take forward these recommendations, and encourage the President of the Human Rights Council to share this report officially with the Secretary General and relevant bodies, the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council, and the Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission, for their consideration.
To welcome the rapporteurs’ final report, QUNO had hoped to make an oral statement at the 43rd session of the HRC, which was unfortunately suspended due to COVID-19 measures in Switzerland. In light of this, the full version of QUNO’s statement is available to read below, as is the link to the rapporteurs' report.
(Photo: Yvette Stevens, presenting the report at HRC 43 - A/HRC/43/37)
Related Areas of Work
For Geneva Peace Week 2019, QUNO and Interpeace organised a self-reflective roundtable on Integrating Human Rights and Sustaining Peace. The roundtable brought together peacebuilders to share their reflections on how to creatively traverse the disciplinary, policy and practice divides between the human rights and peacebuilding fields.
To the layperson, the link between human rights and peacebuilding may seem obvious. However, there has been a traditional schism between the two sectors, premised on an understanding that they are divided by different methods, priorities and operational approaches. In the spirit of bridging these silos, participants at the roundtable discussed issues such as the need to focus on economic, social and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights when intersecting with peacebuilding, the need for a broader approach to justice and human rights that transcends the narrow constraints of criminal justice, and the importance of listening to local lived experiences. Several participants commented that local actors often do not see the distinction between human rights and peacebuilding and have a naturally more integrated way of working.
The Peace Week roundtable on Integrating Human Rights and Sustaining Peace saw a clear enthusiasm among the group for increased collaboration, and QUNO looks forward to continuing adding value to this space.
For more information, please read the concept note available below.
Related Areas of Work
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:
- The UPR, as a process, could in and of itself be a facilitator of open dialogue and understanding, a key feature of peacebuilding.
- 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.