QUNO New York Director, Sarah Clarke, joined speakers from the Mennonite and Church of the Brethren communities at the virtual panel presentation, “The Historic Peace Churches: Integrating Theology and Practice for Peacebuilding,” hosted by George Mason University during the School’s Spring Peace Week. In her presentation, Sarah shared a view on how the Quaker Peace Testimony guides the work of Friends at the United Nations. She provided a brief overview of Quaker history and the emergence of the Peace Testimony, noting ways in which Friends have applied this Testimony over recent centuries. She noted that the Quaker commitment to living “in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars” leads Friends to actively engage in a range of peacemaking and humanitarian efforts.
The commitment to the Peace Testimony also resulted in the establishment, 75 years ago, of Quaker offices at the UN in New York and Geneva. The presence of these offices and the use of Quaker Houses in both locations to convene quiet diplomatic conversations reflects the long support among Quakers for the multilateral system. Quaker working methods are used by both offices because of the belief that countries should solve disputes through dialogue while denying “all outward wars and strife and fighting with outwards weapons”.
Reflecting on the current global climate, Sarah noted that Quakers have found themselves deeply challenged by the eruption of crisis and conflict in Ukraine. While there is a desire for some form of intervention, we have been forced to reconcile ourselves to the reality that in living out the Peace Testimony there is no quick fix in a crisis situation. Instead, we are drawn to lean into the forms of engagement where we can make a contribution, such as humanitarian assistance and the importance of sowing the seeds for reconciliation in the long-term.
To watch Sarah’s presentation, please view the video at 1:10.