September 2018

Development and Security Rely on Peace, Justice and Inclusion: Statement by Peacebuilding Organizations

September 21 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 80 additional peacebuilding organizations from throughout the world issued a statement to United Nations Member States that brings attention to peace concerns.

As noted by QUNO NY's Director, Andrew Tomlinson, “in many cases, governments are pursuing security using militarized approaches, either in the absence of, or in isolation from, policies that decrease exclusion and inequality – core drivers of conflict. If we are to have a hope of eliminating extreme poverty, fostering peaceful and prosperous societies, and addressing the root causes of conflict, then governments need to urgently re-align their priorities."

The statement calls on governments and the international community to:

  • Fully embrace the commitments to peace in the 2030 Agenda
  • Reaffirm a commitment to human rights, the foundation for human dignity and just societies
  • Foster social resilience by strengthening inclusion and addressing inequality
  • Think local and act global: recommit to multilateralism as a safeguard for the most vulnerable
  • Protect and support civil society in fostering sustainable peace

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

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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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September 2018

Statement delivered at the 39th Human Rights Council concerning the arbitrary detention of migrants

On Wednesday 12th September QUNO delivered a statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on arbitrary detention, focusing on the revision and update of Deliberation 5, on deprivation of liberty of migrants.

The statement focused on the clarity on criteria for lawful use of immigration, and highlighted elements of the deliberation focused on the prohibition of the deprivation of liberty of children, the duty of individualised assessment, and the presumption of alternatives to detention. It tied these aspects of the Deliberation to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular migration, and asked the Working Group to consider how they will work with States to support and advise them on the implementation of the Compact.

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September 2018

"We only have the Global Compact for Migration because of the witness of Human Rights defenders" : QUNO speaks at an OHCHR side event

On Thursday 27th September at the 39th Human Rights Council, Human Rights and Refugees representative, Laurel Townhead, spoke at a side event on migrants' Human Rights defenders, organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Paraguay. Laurel centered her presentation on the crucial role Human Rights defenders play in offering a counter narrative of compassion in an increasingly xenophobic global climate. She stressed how vital the witness of migrants' Human Rights defenders has been in creating the Global Compact for Migration, and how important it is now to celebrate its adoption, to ensure it has tangible power in improving the lives of people on the move. QUNO will be at the Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakesh this December, where the compact will be formally adopted.

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October 2018

IPCC presents its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C

In October, the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) met in Incheon, South Korea, to present its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C, and to work with States to finalize the Report’s Summary for Policy Makers. The full Report took nearly two years to prepare, included 91 authors and review editors from 40 countries, contributions from thousands of expert and government reviewers, and cited over 6,000 scientific references. 

QUNO was an expert reviewer and was present at the IPCC meeting in Incheon. We worked with scientists to engage negotiators, and made four interventions to strengthen what we considered significant research findings in the Report. This included findings that human behavior change, including diets, consumption and land-use, would make profound contributions to reducing GHG emissions, and reduce a reliance on geo-engineering that remain unproven on a large scale. QUNO calls for personal witness alongside political engagement with decision makers, to ensure humanity acts in time to protect the most vulnerable, and all future generations, from catastrophic climate change. Our report is available below.

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March 2018

The Peacebuilding Commission: Purpose, work, and opportunity

The International Peace Institute (IPI) and the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO), with support from the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), convened a half-day workshop on March 16, 2018, to contribute to advancements in, and the ongoing work of, the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and its membership. The workshop, which included approximately forty participants, provided an off-the-record space for PBC members to continue to strengthen their understanding of peacebuilding, including best practices and lessons learned for policy development; identify strategies and opportunities to build upon progress made in the PBC; address new or ongoing challenges that impact the Commission’s work; and reflect on and identify the capacities needed to strengthen the PBC. The below key issues emerged from the discussion:

1. Peacebuilding must be informed by and maintain a focus on the field, measuring success by impact at the country or regional level. To support this goal, policymakers will benefit from a strengthened practical understanding of factors that foster peace and of how to translate this knowledge into policy and programming.

2. Progress in the PBC, combined with increased attention on the Commission’s work, has reaffirmed its relevance as the central UN body for peacebuilding and the potential of its unique convening power.

3. The PBC’s increasingly flexible working methods, particularly with regards to country situations, provide both opportunities and challenges for countries as they build peace.

4. Recognition of the peace and development nexus needs to result in greater coherence and coordination of peacebuilding policy across the UN system, which can in part be supported by work carried out by the PBC.

5. Sustained financing for short and long-term programming is critical in assisting states to build peace, and more initiative should be taken to explore innovative financing and partnership opportunities.

IPI and QUNO look forward to a continued partnership that will allow our organizations to provide further support to the PBC and its membership by holding a series of strategic and output driven discussions exploring the above-mentioned topics, among others. Our organizations will continue to work with UN and Member State stakeholders to develop and provide a forum for frank discussion on issues related to the PBC’s work, with a focus on innovative thinking, idea sharing and peer-to-peer learning.

See full meeting note here.

For more information, contact Megan Schmidt, UN Representative at the Quaker UN Office  (, and Lesley Connolly, Senior Policy Analyst at IPI (

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March 2018

Pathways for Peace - Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict: A Reflective Conversation

In March, QUNO, in collaboration with Club de Madrid, hosted a reflective, off-the record conversation on the recently launched United Nations-World Bank Report, Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict. Launched in Washington D.C at the 2018 World Bank Fragility Forum, the report is the first joint study between the UN and the World Bank. Hosted at Quaker House, the event provided a timely opportunity to reflect upon the contents of the report and the difficulties that come with meeting the challenges of prevention. 

Participants reflected upon the findings of the report, the changing nature of contemporary conflict, the need to address grievances before they metastasize, and the need for states, as well as other actors, to pursue inclusive and dialogue centered policies in times of crisis. It was noted that the report should be viewed as a tool for prevention and early-action, and that its findings clearly highlight the business case for prevention, which states that prevention is economically beneficial even in the most pessimistic scenario and that the benefits of prevention increase over time, whereas the costs fall.  It was agreed that for peace processes to be successful, both drivers of peace and drivers of conflict must be addressed.

Participants recognized that the report reflects a cultural shift in the politics of prevention as it marries both political and technical aspects. Crucially, it was expressed that what is most important is that the UN and World Bank have highlighted their partnership and shared responsibility to carry out prevention effectively. QUNO looks forward to continuing its partnership with Club de Madrid, and the authors of the report.

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March 2018

QUNO speaks at a side event on 'Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants'

On 2nd March Laurel Townhead, QUNO’s Human Rights and Refugees Representative, spoke on a panel on ‘Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants’ on the margins of the Human Rights Council.  The Panel aimed to highlight the pressing need for the human rights of migrants to be respected in the face of the restrictive environment that is prevalent in many countries with respect to migrants. Full video of the panel event is available below.

The other panelists were Nils Melzer, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders and Pia Oberoi, an advisor on migration and human rights in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Opening remarks were given by Ambassador Zellweger, from the Permanent Mission of Switzerland.

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February 2018

Promoting Peacebuilding through the Universal Periodic Review

In February, QUNO New York and QUNO Geneva, in collaboration with UPR Info, hosted a series of discussions on the subject of “Promoting Peacebuilding through the Universal Periodic Review.” These exchanges with the peacebuilding community in New York, come as a natural continuation of discussions in Geneva that aimed to raise awareness around the concept of sustaining peace and its relation to human rights. These discussions have been complemented by work with civil society actors from six case study countries undergoing their review under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in 2017.

The overall desire was to support overcoming the fragmentation within the UN and to promote the value of integrated action between peacebuilding and human rights actors on the ground and in the UN system by using the UPR to explore present practice and untapped potential within a specific Human Rights Council process – as called for both by the twin General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on sustaining peace (2016) as well as the UN Secretary General report on Sustaining Peace (2018). 

QUNO Geneva spoke to some of these points in February during the 37th session of the Human Rights Council High Level Panel on Mainstreaming, which focused on the UPR. To view the webcast (QUNO speaks at 1h56m) – and download the full statement – please click here

The statement emphasized that the cost of continued fragmentation is too high and suggested the following actions to support the UPR in better contributing to peacebuilding and sustaining peace activities of the UN: 
• Inclusion of conflict analysis in the UN Compilation and Stakeholders Compilations as well as National Reports. 
• Use of information prepared in the reports as part of horizon scanning and early warning 
• Making and implementing recommendations that intentionally link technical assistance for the prevention of Human Rights violations that if left unaddressed may lead to escalating grievances or even conflict 
The learning and the recommendations from the discussions and the case studies are yet to be published.


Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre

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March 2018

QUNO, in partnership with GPPAC, releases new report, Building Sustainable Peace

Following extensive interview and desk based research, QUNO and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) released their report, ‘Building Sustainable Peace: How inclusivity, partnerships and a reinforced UN Peacebuilding Architecture will support delivery.’

This report builds upon our past peacebuilding body of work, including our 2015 report Filling the Gap, and serves to contribute towards the forward momentum on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. It is the result of desk research as well as interviews with over 35 diverse Member State and UN representatives at UN Headquarters, which provided ample opportunity to learn first-hand how the resolutions have shaped policy and practice by those intimately involved in these processes.

GPPAC and QUNO have a long-standing history engaging with the UN’s Peacebuilding Architecture, and seeking to support and enhance the normative, political, and operational advancement of peacebuilding at the UN. We have continued to lend our voices and expertise during this dynamic time as peacebuilding and prevention have been brought to the fore of the UN’s work following the adoption of the sustaining peace resolutions, as well as other milestones such as the progress made on the 2030 Agenda, the welcoming of the new UN Secretary-General (UNSG), and steps taken with regards to the UNSG’s reform processes.

From our research report, we identified 5 key messages and developed practical recommendations for the UN, Member States and peacebuilding practitioners that will contribute towards the ongoing efforts to build sustainable peace. Our key messages include:

  1. Sustaining peace should be recognised as an evolutionary development that builds upon decades of progress in the UN’s understanding of peacebuilding and conflict prevention. It is also based on the UN’s experience accompanying these processes at the regional and country level around the world.
  2. Member States, with UN support, should now focus on turning words into action to deliver sustainable peace in a comprehensive, integrated and coherent manner at UN Headquarters and regional and country levels.
  3. Sustaining peace provides an opportunity to learn from and build upon the work of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), but far more remains to be done to enhance the PBC’s capacities.
  4. Inclusivity and partnerships are critical to sustaining peace but remain under-utilised in practice.
  5. Barriers and fragmentation that persist must be overcome.

To read the full report, please click here.

To read the post on this report on GPPAC's "UN Insights" blog, please click here.

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