Read QUNO New York's quarterly newsletter, In & Around the UN, featuring articles on:
- The newly established QUNO Alumni Network (QAN)
- Shared security
- Integrating human rights and sustaining peace
...and more from New York.
Read QUNO New York's quarterly newsletter, In & Around the UN, featuring articles on:
...and more from New York.
Recent developments in peacebuilding policy have given us new global commitments, such as the commitment to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies in the 2030 Agenda, and the Sustaining Peace resolutions. Yet these commitments are extremely broad, presenting significant challenges in follow-up and implementation. If peace is everything, then how does a government, a civil society group, a donor or an agency prioritize between different programmatic, budgetary and policy alternatives?
QUNO hosted a group of peacebuilding organizations from 18-20 June for our annual gathering on “What’s Next in Peacebuilding?”. The meeting, which encouraged new insights from peacebuilding leaders around the world, set the stage for an informal discussion and exchange of views. Participants addressed the central issues of peacebuilding from the perspectives of practitioners, donors, and policy experts.
On 25 June 2018, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform was pleased to convene a meeting on “Strengthening a Comprehensive and Inclusive Approach to Countering Incitement and Preventing Violent Extremism”. Held at the onset of a week at the UN focused on counter-terrorism approaches of Member States and the Review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, this meeting provided a timely opportunity for UN agencies and civil society organizations to come together to understand the context, and set expectations for the week’s upcoming events.
Held at Quaker House, this event brought various actors together to discuss how to work productively and collaboratively on this issue. The objectives of this meeting were to discuss key actors in countering incitement and preventing violent extremism, to explore ways to better engage local civil society communities; and to consider the lessons learned at local levels and within the UN system. Participants agreed that as the international community attempts to adapt to violent extremism, a more holistic, people-centered approach should be prioritized.
The Platform was pleased to host this discussion and looks forward to continuing to convene meetings between civil society, UN actors and Member States to support the UN on its prevention agenda.
Following the launch of the joint World Bank and United Nations Report Pathways to Peace in March, the High-Level Event on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace in April and the launch of the Global Study of Youth Peace and Security, inclusion has been put back to the forefront. On 14 May, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform (the Platform) found it timely to host one of its core-group partners, Conciliation Resources, in New York to launch their ACCORD publication Navigating Inclusion in Peace Transitions. The publication, which resulted from four years of research, explores how inclusion is negotiated in countries in transition from war to peace, the common barriers to and trade-offs between inclusion and stability and the types of external and internal support that have been possible and effective in peace processes.
Hosted at Quaker House, this off-the-record conversation provided an opportunity for civil society actors in New York to hear the experiences of colleagues from Colombia and Nepal and discuss more concretely what inclusion looks like the in the various contexts. The research highlights that if inclusion is not talked about in the initial stages of a transition, it tends to be sidelined throughout the process if not totally disregarded. The research also highlights the fact that political transitions are points for renegotiation because transitions and political unsettlement create opportunities for change. However, when aiming for political stability is the focus for a country in transition, it can also be challenging to introduce inclusion policies. Often, the prioritization of stability can lead to a return of the old guard and continued exclusion of marginalized groups.
The research also reflected on the strategies used by different groups, in particular marginalized groups such as women, to influence these processes of political transition. The report draws on practical experience that Conciliation Resources and its partners have learnt from working on these challenges.
The Platform was pleased to host this discussion and looks forward to continuing to convene meetings between civil society, UN actors and Member States to enhance the UN and civil society organizations’ collective capacity to carry out preventive work.
The dual resolutions on peacebuilding and sustaining peace adopted in April 2016 by the United Nations (UN) Security Council and General Assembly (S/RES/2282; A/RES/70/262) marked a fundamental shift in the UN’s understanding of peacebuilding. Before peacebuilding was understood as taking place after conflict. However, by declaring sustaining peace as “a goal and process…aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict,” Member States now universally recognize that efforts to build peace must be taking place before, during and after conflict.
Starting in 2017, the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) and The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) undertook a dynamic research project to increase the practical understanding of what sustaining peace means; assess the progress and remaining challenges facing peacebuilding practice; and articulate recommendations for the way forward. The research led to a joint report, Building Sustainable Peace: How inclusivity, partnerships and a reinforced UN Peacebuilding Architecture will support delivery.
To share their findings, on 9 March QUNO and GPPAC organized an informal conversation amongst Member States and UN colleagues to reflect on how inclusivity is and can be fostered, and how partnerships for building peace are practically developed and sustained. The event, titled Meeting the Challenge of Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace Through Partnerships and Inclusivity, focused the challenges that hinder peacebuilding on the ground and at the regional and international levels. The meeting also provided an opportunity for peer to peer learning amongst participants as they shared examples of inclusive programming and reflected on challenges that have or continue to occur when seeking to develop and implement inclusive, partnership-based peacebuilding policies.
Our New York office is happy to share our most recent Newsletter, "In & Around the UN," featuring reflections on a trip to Burundi; future challenges posed to peacebuilding organisations; the role of civil society in conflict prevention, and more.
“There is no room for complacency when it comes to peace.” H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations
Through the adoption of dual resolutions on peacebuilding and sustaining peace in 2016, the UN General Assembly [A/RES/70/262] and UN Security Council [S/RES/2282] committed to a more comprehensive understanding and approach to peace. On 8 December, QUNO cosponsored an event on sustaining peace coordinated in partnership with the President of the United Nations General Assembly’s Office, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the UN Foundation, Global Compact, and New York University’s Center for International Cooperation . The discussion focused on the topics of prevention and partnerships for sustaining peace, and featured experts from civil society, academia, members of the private sector, and UN colleagues. This event served as a first public meeting for the President of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, as he moves forward on his “roadmap” for sustaining peace.
In the first panel, participants discussed conflict prevention and sustaining peace, focusing particularly on how different actors can best contribute to the preventive aspects of building long-term sustainable peace. Sharing the perspective of local peace workers on the ground, Bridget Moix, US Senior Representative and Head of Advocacy for Peace Direct, noted that “prevention and peacebuilding need to be locally led, regionally anchored, and internationally supported.” Bridget was also joined by Executive Director and Founder of Camp for Peace Liberia, B. Abel Learwellie who shared his experience working as a peacebuilder in Liberia. Abel shared the work Camp for Peace conducts to engage and empower vulnerable youth populations to help rebuild Liberia.
Given this critical role of inclusivity and partnerships, the second panel focused on how to build such partnerships for peace. The panel was moderated by Andrew Tomlinson of QUNO who opened the discussion by sharing that “peace, justice, and inclusion are at the heart of sustaining peace .” The panelists discussed how new partnership frameworks for peace should move away from crisis response and towards a greater emphasis on prevention and building the resilience of communities. This change is beneficial because in early stages of prevention, a wider range of tools and initiatives are available that are likely to be more cost-effective than the tools necessary for conflict response.
This half-day event was one of many avenues that will be taken to contribute towards developments ahead of the High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace, which will be held in 2018. QUNO looks forward to continuing to support such efforts, with a particular focus on the need for inclusive, partnership based peacebuilding approaches.
Watch the event here.
On 8 November, amidst the highly attended Geneva Peace Week, QUNO’s UN Representative Rachel Madenyika presented and moderated a panel entitled “The Future of Prevention: Civil Society Perspectives on Obstacles and Opportunities to better support the UN’s work on Prevention.” The workshop was co-organized by the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC).
Rachel opened the meeting by introducing the work of the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform (the Platform). Launched in 2016 in New York, the inclusive initiative aims to support the UN’s prevention agenda through strengthening coordination and information sharing between civil society organizations and the UN at all levels by identifying concrete and practical steps to enhance the UN and civil society’s collective capacity to carry out preventative work. Rachel shared with the Geneva audience that the Platform primarily worked through sharing of best practices, identifying areas of potential collaboration, supporting the UN’s work in early warning and early action, and most importantly, that the Platform relied on an informal extensive network of global expert civil society organizations. The panel highlighted concrete examples of opportunities and challenges in engaging the UN. GPPAC emphasized that for local civil society actors, such a platform is a significant opportunity to empower civil society engagement not only with the UN but also with local, national, and international actors. SSRC expressed the importance of engaging with local academics as experts who are knowledgeable of the country context. The speaker from the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) discussed how early warning systems are effective in West Africa because of the strong networks of local actors that work cohesively in preventing conflict from escalating. Funding and lack of information sharing were identified by all speakers as challenges to better support the UN. The Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform was a welcomed initiative in Geneva and the event was well attended with participants expressing interest in joining the Platform’s larger network of civil society experts.
On 25 October, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform hosted a successful, well attended event entitled ‘Reflections on the Role of Women in the Prevention of Violent Conflict’. Held in advance of the Security Council’s Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, this event brought together the Gender Focal Points from the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and civil society actors from New York.
Held at Quaker House, this informal, off-the-record meeting offered a space to discuss changes that are needed at the local context and regional inter-governmental levels to increase meaningful participation of women in peace processes and conflict prevention. The discussion highlighted the main challenges and risks for women working in peacebuilding and conflict prevention. Reflections from Fiji, Cameroon, Armenia, and Barcelona emphasized that women are often first responders and their participation is essential in resolving conflict and in helping to build sustainable peace, and yet they are often not included or consulted in programming directed towards them and rarely are key partners in implementation. Participants left the meeting empowered to continue uplifting greater involvement of women in high-level decision-making processes and in formal leadership roles.
The Platform event was moderated by QUNO’s UN Representative for the Prevention of Violent Conflict, Rachel Madenyika. QUNO and GPPAC co-facilitate the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform, established in 2016, which aims to support the UN’s prevention agenda through strengthening coordination and information sharing between civil society organizations and the UN at all levels, and through close collaboration with the Department of Political Affairs (DPA). The Platform believes that the UN’s work on prevention would benefit from a systematic engagement with civil society and that the inclusion of diverse civil society expertise is crucial to achieving sustainable peace and development.
On 6 September, QUNO welcomed Abel Learwellie, Executive Director of Camp for Peace Liberia, to lead a discussion on peacebuilding during times of transition with UN and member state representatives, and civil society colleagues. The conversation was timely as Liberia is soon to experience many changes, including elections in October of this year and the drawdown of United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Mr. Learwellie has been active in the field of peacebuilding in Liberia for over 18 years, and his organization envisions a country where youth are empowered, self-sufficient, employed, and actively contributing to the strengthening and stabilization of Liberia. The meeting provided an opportunity for discussion on the upcoming transitions, challenges that remain for building sustainable peace, and examples of how Camp for Peace Liberia’s local level peacebuilding initiatives have helped support reconciliation in Liberia.
During the conversation, participants reflected challenges facing the country, such as the issue of mistrust between the security sector and civilians, a challenge remaining from experiences during the civil war; the lack of educational opportunities, both academic and vocational; and high levels of youth unemployment. Discussion also focused on the positive impacts of work to address these issues by actors such as the UN, the government of Liberia, and civil society, including Camp for Peace Liberia. In an effort to address such challenges, Camp for Peace Liberia implements a range of programs, including the War Affected Youth (WAY) program, which works to reintegrate former child soldiers and ex-combatants though vocational training, and the Non-Violence and Peace Education program, that gathers youth to participate in workshops focused on non-violent communication and mitigation.
Colleagues also raised the importance of national ownership and inclusivity as key for building upon the peacebuilding work led in the country. It was shared that critical to supporting sustainable peace will be implementing inclusive peacebuilding work processes that are owned and led by communities. QUNO looks forward to continuing to work with Mr. Learwellie and the UN community in promoting inclusive peacebuilding approaches.
September 21 marks the International Day of Peace, which was established in 1981 by a unanimous resolution in the UN’s General Assembly. To mark the day, QUNO and 131 peacebuilding organizations from throughout the world issued a statement to United Nations Member States that brings attention to peace concerns.
As noted by QUNO NY’s Director, Andrew Tomlinson, “while international attention lurches from crisis to crisis, global peace-building organizations focus on long term work to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies. On the International Day of Peace, we encourage governments gathering in New York for the start of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly to join us in these efforts to sustainably address the root causes of violent conflict around the world.”
The statement calls for Member States to:
Additionally, QUNO and the American Friends Service Committee distributed a press release on the statement, which was shared widely with media contacts covering the United Nations.
“…children and young women and men are critical agents of change and will find in the new goals a platform to channel their infinite capacities for activism into the creation of a better world.” – 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
QUNO’s UN Representative for peacebuilding, Megan Schmidt, participated in a Dialogue and Exchange Program (DEP) on the role of young people in the prevention of electoral violence, held in Nairobi, Kenya from 29 June to 1 July. This DEP, organized by a range of peacebuilding organizations working throughout Africa, including the American Friends Service Committee’s Nairobi-based office, brought together over 100 young people from 16 countries in Africa to discuss how youth contribute to prevention and peace. Among the DEP’s goals were to connect youth across the continent, equip them through strengthening knowledge and skills for fostering peace, and acknowledge the dynamic work participants are carrying out in their countries.
Through panel and interactive sessions, participants reflected on a range of issues including drivers of conflict, triggers for radicalization and policies for preventing extremism, and available peace frameworks, including UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. QUNO staff delivered a presentation on the 2030 Agenda as a peace tool for young peacebuilders, reflecting on what it is, why the Agenda matters for youth, and how young leaders can take the 2030 Agenda forward. During the panel discussion and conversations throughout the day, QUNO staff had the opportunity to learn more about the rich work carried out by participants in their countries, including on domestic efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda, and initiatives to strengthen good governance and political inclusivity, and peace education.
The DEP closed following a Peace Awards ceremony, with winners being acknowledged for their work to impact peacebuilding in their countries and continent, the holding of a concert for peace, and the convening of a sports for peace event that brought together over 300 young people. The participants also agreed to develop the African Youth Peace Network, an online platform to connect youth working for peace, and adopted a declaration that conveys the mission and goals of the Network. QUNO looks forward to seeing this network develop, and working with the diverse and dynamic young peace leaders in their efforts to promote peaceful, just, and inclusive societies in their countries and on their continent.
Our New York office is happy to share our most recent Newsletter, "In & Around the UN," featuring articles on our recent visit to the Middle East; QUNO's participation in the Women's March; reflections on Somali refugees, and more.
On a recent visit to Beirut, Andrew Tomlinson, Director of QUNO New York, was invited to offer some reflections on reconciliation to a group of experts engaged in regional humanitarian and development action.
The presentation emphasized that reconciliation is a multi-generational process, that it is applicable wherever there are divided societies (at any level of development), that it has as much to do with prevention as it does with post conflict recovery, with the future as much as the past. Furthermore, while reconciliation is intimately connected with structural issues of inclusion and social justice in the longer term, at any one point in time the key is often to identify practical and realistic actions that, while consistent with the longer term ends, can move ahead irrespective of the ebb and flow of the larger political dynamics, and that such approaches can usefully combine the application of a restorative lens to a wide range of humanitarian, development, and commercial actions.
On 22 May, QUNO, as one of the co-facilitators of the Civil Society – UN Prevention Platform, hosted a publication launch and discussion on: “Preventing Conflict: Community-based approaches to Early Warning and Early Response.” The lead author of the publication, Steven Leach, reflected on the report’s key findings and recommendations. He brought to attention the importance of building trust-based relationships when developing and implementing community approaches to Early Warning and Early Response. Additionally, he noted that promoting an inclusive approach, mainly to involve communities from the margins, is essential. Marginalized communities often experience escalated tensions and violence first, and excluding such communities risks reinforcing cycles of violence that they experience.
Joined by various panelists from the Office of Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN, the discussion offered a broad range of views and reflections drawing from their experiences in community-based approaches to early warning and early response. Participants emphasized the importance of early response as a critical prevention tool. It was also acknowledged that effective peacebuilding in a community setting takes a significant amount of time and relies on inclusive dialogue, community engagement and trust building. The Civil Society – UN Prevention Platform has continued to hold thematic discussions to support the prevention agenda at the UN and create an interactive platform for civil society, UN actors, and member states to exchange information and share best practices.
An essential part of QUNO’s work to promote peacebuilding and prevention at the UN is to ensure that diverse voices inform discussions, particularly practitioners working at the local level and communities that would be impacted by policies. In May, QUNO hosted, Getry Agizah, a Kenyan Quaker, and Coordinator of the Friends Church Peace Teams (FCPT)/ Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC) to share her work on peacebuilding at the community level. Getry, a proud peace builder, works tirelessly to transform societies in the western Kenya region. During her visit, Getry shared her perspectives on local-level peacebuilding by highlighting examples of how she has successfully used her training in Alternatives to Violence (AVP) and Healing and Rebuilding our Communities (HROC) to support the communities she works with in the areas of healing, and reconciliation.
On the first day of her two-day visit to New York, Getry took part in a meeting with a diverse group of New York-based civil society organizations to explore key themes that she has found in her work. Some of the emerging themes were the need to build trust with and work directly with communities, as this supports efforts to build peace. Additionally, she brought attention to the need to fully understand the context of the environment one is working in, including recognizing the challenges facing marginalized communities such as extreme poverty and post-conflict trauma. Getry noted the value and impact of including women and youth in peacebuilding and shared her experiences with projects she has led working with orphans, and women in the community. On the second day, she took part in bilateral meetings with member states and UN actors to further discuss and explore the need for inclusivity and reconciliation in local peacebuilding initiatives. QUNO was glad to have hosted her and hopes she will return to provide updates to UN, civil society and member state colleagues on the impact of her work and share more on local peacebuilding perspectives.
QUNO, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) convened a two-day workshop in New York that provided a forum for academics from various Chinese institutions to share their research and perspectives on peace and security issues in Africa with a broad policy audience. With support from a joint SSRC-AFSC pilot fellowship program, six Chinese PhD scholars completed research in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Zimbabwe and at the African Union where they looked at China’s engagement in UN peace operations, regional partnerships, and the role of China’s commercial interests in sustaining peace. In addition to co-sponsoring the workshop, QUNO’s UN Representative for the Prevention of Violent Conflict, Rachel Madenyika, participated as a discussant, sharing her reflections on the role of business in prevention and sustaining peace.
China continues to rapidly increase its participation in UN peace operations, and is becoming more involved in supporting peace operations and peacebuilding efforts in conflict affected countries and regions, especially in Africa. During the workshop, participants reflected on how in China there is an increasing focus on the importance of investing in development projects as a way to foster peace and address root causes of conflict. Chinese development actors and investors moving these projects forward face challenges with identifying and understanding the drivers and root causes of conflict.
On the occasion of the High Level Debate, “Building Sustainable Peace for All”, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform held an informal, off the record lunch discussion on “Sustaining Peace and the 2030 Agenda: Opportunities for Prevention” to further explore avenues for strengthening prevention at the UN through leveraging synergies between Sustaining Peace and the 2030 Agenda. The meeting sought to identify what opportunities exist for promoting civil society-UN cooperation, and how to ensure that such efforts can have a direct impact on the populations in focus. The conversation brought together CSO perspectives and experiences on the ground, UN actors and Member States.
QUNO is a part of the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform, which recently concluded an extensive mapping exercise within the UN system to gain a better understanding of how different UN agencies and departments in New York conceptualize prevention. The mapping exercise included: identifying what prevention tools are available and lacking; pinpointing keys to success or failure; noting how to improve communication between UN Headquarters and the field and foster more coordinated analysis; determining the main obstacles to UN-civil society cooperation and how to overcome fragmentation within the system. As a follow up to the mapping, the Prevention Platform held the first of three meetings in October which looked at the different UN actors' perspectives, approaches, etc. on prevention more broadly. Most recently, the Prevention Platform held its second discussion focusing on 'Civil society perspectives on obstacles and opportunities to better support the UN's work on prevention' at Quaker House.
The Civil Society UN Prevention Platform aims to support the UN’s prevention agenda through strengthening coordination and information sharing between civil society organizations (CSOs) and the UN at all levels, in particular through close collaboration with the Department of Political Affairs. The platform seeks to identify concrete, practical steps to enhance the UN and CSO's collective capacity to carry out preventive work, through sharing examples of best practices, identifying areas of potential collaboration on thematic issues and country cases, and supporting UN efforts to bridge early warning and early action. The platform considers conflict prevention broadly as encompassing inclusive activities aimed at addressing the root causes of conflict and supporting societies in preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict, at both a structural and an operational level.
In honour of the International Day of Peace, QUNO and peacebuilding organisations from around the world have issued a shared statement to UN member states on the importance of embracing the new global framework for peace.
Over the last year, states have made significant new commitments to addressing the root causes of conflict and displacement, in both the 2030 Agenda and the Sustaining Peace resolutions. The statement calls on governments to embrace this new mandate and to mainstream peace policy, implement peace at home, foster peace around the world, support funding for peace and to protect and support civil society inclusion.