October 2022

QUNO Geneva’s Peace and Disarmament programme engagement at Human Rights Council

At the 51st session of the Human Rights Council – which has come to a close – the Peace and Disarmament programme engaged on two key thematic areas of work: sustaining peace and arms control.

QUNO’s work on Peace and Disarmament is rooted in the understanding that sustainable peace is a holistic process, linked with human rights, social and economic justice, and political participation. This understanding also underpins our engagement at the Council – where we continue to call for more effective and coherent cooperation across all pillars of the UN – namely the human rights, development, and peace & security pillars. We reiterated this call in our Item 3 statement – highlighting our continued wish for member states of the HRC and Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) to continue to work together to develop opportunities for further exchange and dialogue, and to work towards enabling an annual briefing by the PBC chair to the HRC. In line with this understanding of sustainable peace, the programme continues to support ways in which the HRC explores its prevention mandate.

The programme therefore also engaged on Resolution 51/14 on the role of prevention in the promotion and protection of human rights focused on accountability measures and was put forward by Ukraine on behalf of a group of member states. QUNO particularly welcomes all HRC mechanisms to integrate prevention into their work and looks forward to engaging with the Office of the High Commissioner as it prepares the requested study on the preventative role of rule of law and accountability on national and international levels.

As we continue to resist all war and preparations for war and believe that the deliberate killing of others denies their humanity, we also approach our work on disarmament as first and foremost preventing the worst harm, by addressing and curbing the impact of weapons on human rights beyond the right to life and engaging with a wide range of actors including the economic drivers of these exports, namely the businesses behind the bullets. It is in that spirit that we welcomed in our Item 3 Statement an Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Report 51/15 on preventing, mitigating, and addressing the diversion of arms and unregulated or illicit arms transfers.

In particular we welcomed the report unprecedented highlights of the crucial role and responsibilities that States and businesses have in preventing, mitigating and addressing unregulated arms transfers and in turn, and in protecting human rights for all; and in this regard, we also recalled the Information Note that the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights has recently published on “Responsible business conduct in the arms sector: Ensuring business practice in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” published in August 2022. However, we also acknowledged that all weapons have an impact on human rights, not only those diverted or illicitly transferred.

Our engagement at the Council also focused on Resolution 51/22 put forward by Panama and Austria that focused on the effects of new and emerging military technology and its effects on human rights. QUNO welcomes its request for a study examining these human rights implications and the inclusion of paragraph on the responsibility to respect human rights of business enterprises. The adoption of this resolution confirms that addressing human rights concerns relating to the military domain does not only belong to disarmament fora.

As the 51st session of the HRC ends, there is still much work to be done to promote language, instruments, and work to protect and strengthen peace, but we also believe the work done during this session, with our voice as QUNO and as Quakers, are a series of small victories in the larger struggle towards sustainable peace rooted in human rights, social and economic justice, and political participation.

To listen and watch the statement in full, click on the video-link below (starting min 23:39); or to read our statement in full please see the PDF below.

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