QUNO was invited to lead the second session in the Friends World Committee for Consultation’s (FWCC) Quaker Conversations, FWCC’s monthly webinar series with Friends around the world. QUNO New York Director, Andrew Tomlinson, spoke about the topic “Changing the World from the Top Down," and began by recalling the Quaker presence at the United Nations (UN), which dates back to the signing of the UN Charter in San Francisco in June, 1945 – almost exactly 75 years ago. When the UN began its work in New York and Geneva, the Quaker offices at the United Nations started right alongside them.
Moving to the present, Andrew discussed how COVID-19 had affected both the normal operations of the United Nations, as well as QUNO and other civil society partners’ work. Reflecting on these new challenges moving forward, Andrew said, “in many ways, the current crisis, horrendous as it is, feels like a dress rehearsal for the global social and economic disruption that will likely arise as a consequence of climate change...It has become even clearer than ever before how much we need global solutions to global problems.”
For now, QUNO has engaged other colleagues and counterparts in the UN system through virtual interviews and dialogues, while continuing to push for more people-centered and sustainable approaches to peace, justice and inclusion during the pandemic. Attendees asked about challenges facing both the United Nations and QUNO’s own work, with some strong reflections on what they could do in their own communities and countries to help. One recommendation made was asking everyone to share their input and concerns with the United Nations by filling out their UN75 survey.
We are grateful we were able to collaborate with FWCC and share our work with interested Friends and partners. QUNO Geneva Director Jonathan Woolley, will be participating in another Quaker Conversations with FWCC later this year.