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.
QUNO NY's Director and Quaker UN Representative, Andrew Tomlinson, was invited to give one of three Quaker Truth Talks at a plenary session of the 2018 Friends General Conference Gathering in Toledo, Ohio. Andrew joined Friends Paula Palmer and Oskar Castro with a presentation entitled "From Spirit to Action: Examining the Roots of Quaker UN Work".
Weaving together the strands of the history of Quaker social action, the work of QUNO and personal transformation, the presentation concludes: "..the things that Quakers do well in social action have their roots in Quaker spiritual practice, and the fruits of that practice, in the qualities of insight, fellow-feeling, groundedness, integrity, inclusivity, hope and love, are the same things that have characterized Friends’ unique contribution over hundreds of years.."
The video for Andrew's presentation can be found here.
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 October, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform hosted a meeting between civil society and the newly appointed Under-Secretary General and Special Advisor on Policy, Ms. Ana Maria Menéndez. The Civil Society Prevention Platform, established in 2016, aims to enhance UN and civil society collaboration. As co-facilitator of the Civil Society Prevention Platform, QUNO hosted this off-the-record event in Quaker House.
The event was Ms. Menéndez’s first meeting with a network of civil society actors in her newly appointed role. Providing an opportunity for open and constructive dialogue on how civil society can better interact to contribute to the UN’s work on prevention, this event offered an exciting opportunity for civil society members to better engage with the Executive Office of the Secretary General.
The Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform sees great potential in growing and developing this relationship - there is an interest and demand within civil society for this enhanced relationship with the UN. We are delighted with the positive response from Ms. Menéndez's office to engage more deeply and meaningfully with civil society. Our Platform stands ready to assist in whatever way possible to nurture and grow this partnership.
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.
“…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.
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 UN Representative, Rachel Madenyika, had the opportunity to sit down with QuakerSpeak and share her insight on Quaker work on and approaches to sustainability.
In her interview, Rachel shares that, to her, sustainability centers on simplicity and the quest for lasting peace. She notes that in her capacity as a UN Representative for QUNO she has worked on peace and sustainability issues on different tracks. From this she has found that what makes the Quaker approach to sustainability unique is the ability to not only work in their communities, but also to bridge gaps and work with people from all walks of life.
QUNO participated in a 3-day seminar in Johannesburg South Africa, on conflict prevention, dialogue and reconciliation in Africa. Hosted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the seminar gathered UN experts, private sector practitioners and civil society actors to provide UNDP leadership at the country level with new thinking and approaches to facilitating conflict prevention efforts, national dialogue and reconciliation mechanisms in Africa. The Seminar created an opportunity for participants to address the critical questions regarding successes, challenges, opportunities for conflict prevention, dialogue and reconciliation as structures for providing democratic governance, preventing violence and peacebuilding in the continent. QUNO UN Representative on Prevention, Rachel Madenyika presented in a workshop entitled “Who ‘does’ dialogue and where? Exploring the key stakeholders and their approaches.” The presentation highlighted the importance of linking local, national, regional and global actors in conflict prevention as well as looked at the role of Quakers in reconciliation and dialogue.
QUNO welcomed the opportunity to be part of this High Level event and is looking forward to the outcomes and next steps of this important agenda.
The Quaker United Nations Office, together with Conciliation Resources and the Delegation of the European Union to the UN, hosted a successful launch of the third Accord publication, "Making peace with the past: transforming broken relationships." The event involved representatives from the UN, Member States and civil society.
The publication reflects on practical approaches and challenges of addressing the legacies of violent conflict, including various activities intended to promote reconciliation, support justice and dealing with the past focusing a four country cases, Georgia, Columbia, Philippines and Northern Ireland and stresses the value of reconciliation at the fore front in peace processes.
Our New York office is pleased to share our newest Newsletter, In & Around the UN, featuring articles on the new UN Secretary General, integrating human rights and sustaining peace, the new global framework for peace and more.
The role of religion in violent conflict has received new attention in the context of recent terrorist attacks - but religiously motivated actors have long been involved in community and national level peacebuilding. In July, QUNO New York Director Andrew Tomlinson spoke at a UN event organised by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding entitled "Turning the Tide: Engaging Religiously-Motivated Peacebuilders in Conflict Zones", alongside peacebuilders from Sri Lanka, Colombia and Afghanistan.
QUNO's comments stressed the central role of religious actors in strengthening the social fabric in many conflict-affected societies, and the supporting role that the international community can play, particularly in pushing back against the shrinking of civil society space that is affecting many countries today. Tomlinson also emphasized the importance of approaches that transform the position of women and respect human rights.
In his speech, he also referred to the term "organized and politicized violence," which QUNO's sister organization, the American Friends Service Committee, is suggesting as an alternative to the often distorting lens of "countering violent extremism."
QUNO New York is excited to share our most recent Newsletter, "In & Around the UN," featuring the following articles by our staff:
QUNO New York director, Andrew Tomlinson, spoke at the Second Annual Symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organisations in International Affairs, which had a thematic focus on the links between religion, violence and extremism. He was invited to speak as a panelist on the intersections of religion and violence, alongside Professor Dr. John L. Esposito from Georgetown University. Andrew's comments focused on providing a peacebuilding perspective to the prevention of violent extremism, and highlighting the work of faith-based and peacebuilding organizations in fragile and conflict-affected states.
To watch the video, please click here. Andrew Tomlinson's speech is featured at 2 hours and 6 minutes.
QUNO hosted a book launch and discussion at Quaker House in New York on "Making Peace in Their Own Words: People of Myanmar's Peace Process," a publication recently issued by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. Member States, UN personnel and NGOs came together to discuss the challenges and successes of the peace process, which is nationally-led and has taken place between the government and ethnic armed groups.
The book tells the story of men and women who, together, moved Myanmar's current peace process forward. While opposing each other for a long time, they have transformed themselves and those around them through the experience of sitting at the negotiation table. The testimonies highlighted in the book provide a window into personal experiences, and acknowledge the difficulty of transition periods.
Take a look at what's going on in our New York office: QUNO's quarterly Newsletter highlights our work on the new Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda; the first Arria-Formula meeting focusing on the issue of Palestine since 1997; a workshop in Beijing entitled "Emerging Views on Global Peace Practice;" our Review of the UN Peacebuilding architecture; and new staff in New York.