October 2023

Sustaining peace needs intersectional approach at United Nations

Florence Foster from QUNO Geneva participates at Geneva Peace Week 2023 panel

Peacebuilding has been viewed mainly as post-conflict intervention at the United Nations (UN), but the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) believes peace work is needed throughout the conflict cycle.

QUNO takes a human rights-based approach to achieve sustaining peace. Focusing on human rights towards peacebuilding can further reduce the risk of violent conflict, end hostilities through inclusive processes and move towards reconciliation and just recovery. 

Often, human rights violations can be indicators of root causes of destructive conflict. Conversely, peace is fundamentally linked to human rights, social and economic justice, and political participation. 

Florence Foster, QUNO’s Peace and Disarmament programme Representative at the UN, elaborated on the organisation’s approach at Geneva Peace Week during a panel discussion this week. She said it was vital to take an intersectional view of peacebuilding as well as including all pillars of the UN with its different agencies to this end. 

She said that more work is needed, despite the considerable paradigm shift within the UN in the last years — from a limited understanding of peacebuilding as post-conflict activities, delivered nearly exclusively by its peace & security architecture, towards recognising that all pillars of the UN are relevant to delivering peace dividends throughout the conflict cycle. 

This means the UN system’s fragmented processes and institutions need to collaborate to deliver on its commitment to prevent violent conflict.

To that end, Florence Foster said during her presentation that further work was needed to ensure findings of human rights mechanisms were effectively communicated to different parts of the UN system, notably the Peacebuilding Commission. 

This offers an opportunity to enhance institutional collaboration and forge closer links between the human rights and peace & security pillar to better address and prevent violent conflict.

Florence Foster talked also about how various human rights bodies and mechanisms have been reflecting on how sustaining peace functions could be integrated into their respective mandates. 

QUNO looks forward to sharing these lessons learned at the upcoming New Agenda for Peace processes ahead of the Summit for the Future in September 2024.  

Geneva Peace Week has been an opportunity for QUNO to also share its work with other stakeholders. QUNO is a founder-member of Geneva Peace Week, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year in Geneva, Switzerland.

Other organisations that participated alongside QUNO at this event at Geneva Peace Week include the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Centre for Civilians in Conflict and Geneva Centre for Security Policy.

Related Links

Related Areas of Work