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Human Rights & Refugees

February 2021

UPDATED in 2021 - International Standards on Conscientious Objection to Military Service

This updated paper lays out the ways in which conscientious objection has been recognized and is protected under human rights treaties and mechanisms, taking into account developments in international standards that have occurred since 2015. These strengthened standards can be used by frontline organizations as a tool to limit suffering, improve lives and challenge root causes of injustice.

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February 2021

Briefing Paper: Using the Regional Migration Reviews to Further Human Rights Protection

The Global Compact for Migration (GCM), adopted in 2018, is a significant commitment from governments to take a people centred and human rights based approach to migration policy and to work together towards this. The GCM invites regions to undertake reviews of the implementation of the compact every four years starting in 2020. These processes will feed into the International Migration Review Forum, also due to take place every four years, starting in 2022.

The 2020 Regional Migration Reviews are the first opportunity for States and others to reflect together on the initial steps taken and on how to make further progress to implement the GCM. They are also the first opportunity for detailed multilateral discussion on migration governance following the Covid-19 pandemic and to identify ways to adapt with the GCM as a guiding framework. 

This paper is intended to help migrants, NGOs and other stakeholders to engage with the Regional Migration Reviews as part of their work to improve the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants.

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December 2020

Quaker Statement on Migration

Working together American Friends Service Committee, Britain Yearly Meeting, Friends Committee for National Legislation, Quaker Council for European Affairs and Quaker United Nations Office have developed a statement on migration drawing on Quaker foundations and work with migrants and on migration. The core of the statement says:

Rooted in our belief that there is that of the sacred in everyone, our spiritual leading to uphold the inherent value and agency of every human being, and our commitment to building a world without violence, we are heartbroken by migration policy that dehumanizes some members of our human family on the basis of where they come from. We reject the notion that security for some can be achieved through means that use or result in violence and insecurity for others. We abhor the many forms of violence used in the management of migration and the effect current migration systems have in dividing our human family. 

We are committed to working for a world where dignity and rights are upheld regardless of migration status and not on the basis of citizenship or perceived deservedness.  Our faith calls us to work alone and with others for migration justice.  

Friends, Meetings and Quaker agencies and organizations around the world work for migration justice, bearing witness to the Quaker testimonies of peace and equality. Though our working methods may differ, the organizations that developed this statement are united by the shared vision expressed in this statement.

We encourage Meetings, Quaker organizations and Friends’ groups or associations to consider supporting the statement and signing on to it. 

If your organization, group or Meeting would like to sign on to support the statement or if you have questions about the statement or comments on it please email the Quaker UN Office’s Human Rights and Refugees team: Laurel Townhead ltownhead@quno.ch and Najmah Ali nali@quno.ch

The list of supporting Meetings, groups and organisations will be updated regularly and can be seen below: 

The Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network 

Quaker Earthcare Witness 

Esher Meeting

Trenton Meeting of Friends

West Brattleboro Quaker Worship Group

Montana Gathering of Friends 

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October 2020

Briefing Paper: Using the Regional Migration Reviews to Further Human Rights Protection

The Global Compact for Migration (GCM), adopted in 2018, is a significant commitment from governments to take a people centred and human rights based approach to migration policy and to work together towards this. The GCM invites regions to undertake reviews of the implementation of the compact every four years starting in 2020. These processes will feed into the International Migration Review Forum, also due to take place every four years, starting in 2022.

The 2020 Regional Migration Reviews are the first opportunity for States and others to reflect together on the initial steps taken and on how to make further progress to implement the GCM. They are also the first opportunity for detailed multilateral discussion on migration governance following the Covid-19 pandemic and to identify ways to adapt with the GCM as a guiding framework. 

This paper is intended to help migrants, NGOs and other stakeholders to engage with the Regional Migration Reviews as part of their work to improve the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants.

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October 2020

Geneva Reporter

QUNO's October 2020 issue of the Geneva Reporter newsletter is available below. This expanded issue includes a special feature from our programme Representatives on the impact of Covid on our work and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. This issue also features a Q&A with our 2019-2020 PAs on their experience leading the first ever virtual Summer School; brief news updates and a QUNO Q&A with Beatrice Liese.

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October 2020

Briefing Paper: Not Forgotten: Human Rights of Migrants at the 45th Session of the Human Rights Council

The Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) believes in the inherent worth of every individual and is committed to working for migration justice. This includes the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants, regardless of migration status. Migration has been an integral component of our societies throughout history; however, migrants continue to face hostility, criminalization and violence which underlines what the High Commissioner of Human Rights has described as a lethal disregard for migrant’s lives. This is further exacerbated by the Covid-19 global pandemic which is disproportionately impacting on those in situations of marginalization and vulnerability.

The Human Rights Council has an important role to play in the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants and should contribute both to preventing violations and responding to human rights violations. This report provides a thorough collection of relevant elements from thematic reports, panels, debates, dialogues and resolutions and identifies potential entry points through activities mandated in resolutions adopted at this session.

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August 2020

Key Human Rights Concerns for Children of Parents Accused or Convicted of Association with Designated Terrorist Groups

For over 15 years, QUNO has worked to draw attention to the impact on children of parental incarceration and clarify the existing human rights protection in international law. This paper draws on that work to outline the additional specific rights violations faced by children because their parents are accused or convicted of association with designated terrorist groups.

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August 2020

Biometric data in the context of children of parents suspected, accused or convicted of association with designated terrorist groups

There is growing international concern regarding the many children associated with designated terrorist organizations, one specific group of whom are children of parents suspected, accused or convicted of association with a designated terrorist group. Upholding the rights of these children is both a legal requirement and a moral imperative, yet they remain exposed to numerous, systemic violations of their rights. 

This paper is a supplement to QUNO’s Briefing Paper: Key Human Rights Considerations for Children of Parents Suspected, Accused or Convicted of Association with Designated Terrorist Groups, which is linked below. 

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July 2020

'A lethal disregard': QUNO's written statement on the human rights of migrants at the 44th Human Rights Council

QUNO submitted this written statement on the occasion of the annual Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants at the 44th session of the Human Rights Council, drawing the Council's attention to the ongoing mortality and morbidity of people on the move all over the world. The statement complements an oral statement to be delivered during the Interactive Dialogue by QUNO's Representative for Human Rights and Refugees, Laurel Townhead. This statement forms part of QUNO's ongoing programme of work on the promotion and protection of the human rights of migrants. 

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May 2020

QUNO Directors' Letter on the Impact of COVID-19

“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.” (…) “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 this letter, the Directors of our New York and Geneva offices reflect on the impact of COVID-19 on peace, multilateralism and Quaker work at the United Nations.

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May 2020

Covid-19 and the Rights of Children of Parents who are Incarcerated

The Child Rights Connect Working Group on Children of Incarcerated Parents, of which QUNO is co-convenor, produced this Briefing Paper on the Rights of Children of Parents who are Incarcerated in the context of Covid-19, with the support of Penal Reform International. 

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March 2020

Children of Incarcerated Parents - International Standards and Guidelines

Children of incarcerated parents continue to face a range of challenges to the full respect for and enjoyment of their rights. This Briefing Paper provides an update to QUNO’s previous publication, offering an overview of the international legal standards applicable to these children. The paper incorporates information from legal instruments, treaty bodies, and other guidance from the United Nations and regional systems in both human rights and criminal justice fields. The paper is designed to promote the rights of these children, to aid States and other actors in ensuring that these rights are protected in practice, and to contribute to contribute to improving standards.

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December 2019

Geneva Reporter

QUNO's December 2019 issue of the Geneva Reporter newsletter is available below. This special issue highlights some of the ways the Quaker commitment to peace is reflected in QUNO's work programmes, and also features an interview about our work on integrating human rights & sustaining peace; news from our recent event on climate justice and peacebuilding; trade for peace, an update on our work supporting the right to conscientious objection to military service, and a QUNO Q&A with David Elliott.

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August 2019

Geneva Reporter

QUNO's August 2019 issue of the Geneva Reporter newsletter is available below. This issue features: an update from our Human Rights & Refugees programme on the important next steps after adoption by the UN of the Global Compact on Migration last December; ; highlights about our recent prevention activities for human rights and sustaining peace; approaches to people and nature centered climate policy; and a QUNO Q&A with our newest Representative, Joachim Monkelbaan.

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June 2019

Conscientious Objection submission to OHCHR report

While recognition of conscientious objection in national law is a huge step towards ending violations of the rights of those who refuse to fight, human rights based processes need to be in place to ensure that the right can be exercised in practice. On this basis the Human Rights Council mandated a report from the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, delivered in June 2019, that examines barriers to the right to conscientious objection and provides a checklist of  recommendations for States when implementing policy. This document is QUNO's contribution to the report.

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June 2019

Briefing Tools for Practitioners—Children: unseen victims of the death penalty

 The Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) is committed to the abolition of the death penalty in all its forms. We believe that bringing light to the issue of the impact of the parental death penalty on children contributes to the broader abolitionist movement and can contribute to the eradication of the death penalty worldwide.

The issue of the impact on children of parents sentenced to death or executed is applicable to all countries, and at all stages of the process, from arrest through to post-execution; there are parents everywhere. Focusing on the experience of the children who are affected can help in turn to humanize those sentenced to death, by representing them as people who give and receive love—as individual human beings, and not only as the crimes they may have committed.

This set of briefing tools is intended to inform decision makers, including defence lawyers, sentencers and legislators, and also diplomats and State representatives, of the impact on children and the relevant international legal standards in order to change policy and practice.

French and English language versions are available below.

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March 2019

QUNO statements at the 40th Human Rights Council

At the 40th session of the Human Rights Council, QUNO delivered an oral statement (and submitted a written counterpart providing further information) focussing on the ways in which the sentencing to death or execution of a parent violates the best interests principle, particularly where the death sentence is mandatory, and often violates the child's right to non-discrimination. 

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February 2019

Protection of the Rights of Children of Parents Sentenced to Death or Executed: An Expert Legal Analysis

This paper presents a legal analysis of the protection of the human rights of children of parents sentenced to death or executed. An earlier legal analysis by the Quaker United Nations Office explored the effects of parental imprisonment on the rights of the child. This analysis does not repeat the points made there regarding the effects on children when a parent is imprisoned, but instead focuses on the particular impact on the rights of the child of a parent’s death sentence or execution. 

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