June 2018

What's Next in Peacebuilding?

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. 

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June 2018

Integrating Human Rights and Sustaining Peace – The Role of the Universal Periodic Review

On 26 June, QUNO, in collaboration with the Permanent Missions of Germany and Switzerland, who co-chair the cross-regional Human Rights/Conflict Prevention Caucuses in New York and Geneva, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), co-hosted a discussion on “Integrating Human Rights and Sustaining Peace – The Role of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)”. As the 2016 sustaining peace resolutions adopted by the Security Council and General Assembly, and the Secretary-General’s 2018 Report on the same subject, call upon Member States and the UN to consider the human rights dimension of peacebuilding, this event provided a timely opportunity for civil society, UN agencies, and Member States to discuss how the UPR can contribute to better integrating human rights and sustaining peace. 

Hosted at UN Headquarters, this high-level meeting began with a presentation by Florence Foster of QUNO-Geneva on a recent study entitled “Integrating Human Rights and Sustaining Peace” exploring how the UPR is an inclusive, universal and the least contentious Human Rights Council process, and how its recommendations can be developed and implemented to prevent human rights violations that if left unaddressed could lead to conflict. The report recommends greater attention to be paid to conflict analysis throughout the UPR process, a shift in mindset away from the fragmented perception of human rights as a prerogative of Geneva versus peacebuilding and security as a prerogative of New York, and the levelling of dialogue spaces for human rights conversations addressing sustaining peace matters. 

The presentation was followed by an interactive panel discussion including Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) Andrew Gilmour, Head of the OHCHR Office in New York, ASG Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Head of the Peacebuilding Support Office, and Katy Thompson, Governance & Peace Building, Conflict Prevention Team Leader at the UN Development Programme, as well as the Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the United Nations, Ambassador Jorge Skinner-Klee. 

QUNO looks forward to its continued collaboration with all actors on better integrating human rights and sustaining peace, in particular with both Human Rights/Conflict Prevention Caucuses.  

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June 2018

Strengthening a Comprehensive and Inclusive Approach to Countering Incitement and Preventing Violent Extremism

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.

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June 2018

UN Global Study on Children Deprived of their Liberty – Call for Input

Research is currently underway on a UN Global Study on Children Deprived of their Liberty and your help is needed.

The Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty (called for in UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/69/157) will shed light on the scale and conditions of children deprived of liberty, identifying good practices and making recommendations for effective measures to prevent human rights violations against children in detention and reduce the number of children deprived of liberty.

One of the chapters of this Study will focus on children detained with their parents in the criminal justice system.  The Study will draw on data from governments but it will also be based on existing research and on the experiences of children who have been deprived of their liberty with a parent and those who work with them. 

A call for input has therefore been issued to help provide the chapter’s Research Group with resources including research and reports on this issue, data on the numbers of children living with a parent and case studies.  Please click on the link below to read the call for input in full. 

If you do have any of the requested information please send it to Stephen Browne sbrowne@quno.org who will compile it so it can be shared with the research leads on behalf of QUNO and COPE, the NGO Focal Points for the Research Group.    

Finally, for updates on the Study please join the NGO Panel for the Study: https://childrendeprivedofliberty.info/   


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May 2018

What UN Development Reform means for Prevention

On 10 May 2018, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform (the Platform) was pleased to convene a meeting on what the UN Development Reform means for the Secretary-General’s Prevention agenda. Held days after the resolution concerning the proposed UN Development Reform was negotiated in the General Assembly, this event provided a timely opportunity for civil society and UN actors to constructively discuss the Development Reform. The objective of this meeting was to discuss the impact of the reform on the UN, its civil society partners and on the Secretary General’s vision for prevention, and to provide a space for an open and constructive dialogue on how UN and civil society cooperation can support the UN’s work on prevention.

Hosted at Quaker House, this event was the second in a series of discussions held by the Platform on the various UN reform streams. The Development Reform addresses the Secretary-General’s proposals for the UN’s development system to better deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, with prevention as a cross-pillar priority. Subsequently, at the core of the recent resolution is system coherence and coordination at all levels; country, regionally and globally. 

While the Development Reform offers opportunities and challenges for the operationalization of prevention, the natural interlinkages of the peace and security, development and management reform streams remain important. The reform pushes for a more collected in country approach with more empowered Resident Coordinators and less regional duplication. 

By convening this meeting, the Platform informed civil society actors on the Development Reform process. QUNO looks forward to continuing its work co-facilitating the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform and working with its core-partners and its larger networks of civil society experts to support the UN’s prevention agenda though strengthening, coordinating and information sharing with the UN at all levels.

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April 2018

New York Peacebuilding Group holds timely and impactful civil society meetings in sidelines of UN peacebuilding event

The United Nations (UN) Secretariat held a much-anticipated High-Level Event on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace from 24-26 April. This event, convened by the President of the General Assembly (PGA), provided a forum for Member States and the UN system to assess efforts undertaken so far and the opportunities that are available to strengthen the UN’s peacebuilding work. The HLE and the many side events surrounding the meeting provided a space for civil society organizations (CSO) working on peace issues to engage with the UN and Member State stakeholders. To support the building of relationships and partnership opportunities, and to support strategic discussion on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, the New York Peacebuilding Group (NYPG), facilitated by the Quaker UN Office, held two CSO-focused meetings throughout the week. 

NYPG began the week by hosting an informal breakfast at Quaker House to provide a space for CSO colleagues from New York and visiting globally to connect with one another ahead of the HLE. This informal platform allowed for participants to meet and mingle with fellow peacebuilding practitioners, and supported the building and strengthening of partnerships amongst this diverse peacebuilding community. Following the HLE, NYPG held a reflection and strategy lunch discussion, which provided an avenue for CSO colleagues to share observations and analysis from their experiences throughout the week. Conversation focused on expectations and next steps for peacebuilding and sustaining peace, the linkages with other peace agendas such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the importance of the inclusion of women and youth, and of national ownership for peacebuilding. 

By convening these two meetings at Quaker House, NYPG was able to provide space for colleagues to openly exchange and reflect on the HLE and side events, and the next steps for peacebuilding at the UN. QUNO looks forward to continuing to facilitate NYPG and to working with the group’s members to continue to provide avenues for strategic engagement across the global CSO peacebuilding community.

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May 2018

WEBCAST: "Why aren't we really mitigating?" a QUNO side-event at SB48 climate change conference in Bonn

Side Event Poster

Watch the webcast of the QUNO side-event on Tuesday 8th May 2018 at the SB48 climate change meeting in Bonn. The event is titled "Why aren't we really mitigating? Honest conversations on effective climate action". 

What are the most effective and ethical mitigation approaches, and why are they not being sufficiently implemented? Which approaches help us shift from resource exploitation to ecological integrity, and help us avoid reliance on unproven geo-engineering, which may fail to address root causes while damaging ecosystems further?

Featuring Guy Lomax from The Nature Conservancy, Paul Allen, from the Centre for Alternative Technology, John Brinkman from the Maryknoll Catholic Community, Martin Frick who is Senior Director of UNFCCC, Santa Meyer-Nandi from Finding Sustainia - Think & Action Lab, Dr. Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, Frank Ettawageshik from National Congress of American Indians and Valeriane Bernard from Brahma Kumaris.

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March 2018

The Peacebuilding Commission: Purpose, work, and opportunity

The International Peace Institute (IPI) and the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO), with support from the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), convened a half-day workshop on March 16, 2018, to contribute to advancements in, and the ongoing work of, the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and its membership. The workshop, which included approximately forty participants, provided an off-the-record space for PBC members to continue to strengthen their understanding of peacebuilding, including best practices and lessons learned for policy development; identify strategies and opportunities to build upon progress made in the PBC; address new or ongoing challenges that impact the Commission’s work; and reflect on and identify the capacities needed to strengthen the PBC. The below key issues emerged from the discussion:

1. Peacebuilding must be informed by and maintain a focus on the field, measuring success by impact at the country or regional level. To support this goal, policymakers will benefit from a strengthened practical understanding of factors that foster peace and of how to translate this knowledge into policy and programming.

2. Progress in the PBC, combined with increased attention on the Commission’s work, has reaffirmed its relevance as the central UN body for peacebuilding and the potential of its unique convening power.

3. The PBC’s increasingly flexible working methods, particularly with regards to country situations, provide both opportunities and challenges for countries as they build peace.

4. Recognition of the peace and development nexus needs to result in greater coherence and coordination of peacebuilding policy across the UN system, which can in part be supported by work carried out by the PBC.

5. Sustained financing for short and long-term programming is critical in assisting states to build peace, and more initiative should be taken to explore innovative financing and partnership opportunities.

IPI and QUNO look forward to a continued partnership that will allow our organizations to provide further support to the PBC and its membership by holding a series of strategic and output driven discussions exploring the above-mentioned topics, among others. Our organizations will continue to work with UN and Member State stakeholders to develop and provide a forum for frank discussion on issues related to the PBC’s work, with a focus on innovative thinking, idea sharing and peer-to-peer learning.

See full meeting note here.

For more information, contact Megan Schmidt, UN Representative at the Quaker UN Office  (MSchmidt@afsc.org), and Lesley Connolly, Senior Policy Analyst at IPI (connolly@ipinst.org).

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March 2018

Pathways for Peace - Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict: A Reflective Conversation

In March, QUNO, in collaboration with Club de Madrid, hosted a reflective, off-the record conversation on the recently launched United Nations-World Bank Report, Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict. Launched in Washington D.C at the 2018 World Bank Fragility Forum, the report is the first joint study between the UN and the World Bank. Hosted at Quaker House, the event provided a timely opportunity to reflect upon the contents of the report and the difficulties that come with meeting the challenges of prevention. 

Participants reflected upon the findings of the report, the changing nature of contemporary conflict, the need to address grievances before they metastasize, and the need for states, as well as other actors, to pursue inclusive and dialogue centered policies in times of crisis. It was noted that the report should be viewed as a tool for prevention and early-action, and that its findings clearly highlight the business case for prevention, which states that prevention is economically beneficial even in the most pessimistic scenario and that the benefits of prevention increase over time, whereas the costs fall.  It was agreed that for peace processes to be successful, both drivers of peace and drivers of conflict must be addressed.

Participants recognized that the report reflects a cultural shift in the politics of prevention as it marries both political and technical aspects. Crucially, it was expressed that what is most important is that the UN and World Bank have highlighted their partnership and shared responsibility to carry out prevention effectively. QUNO looks forward to continuing its partnership with Club de Madrid, and the authors of the report.

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February 2018

Promoting Peacebuilding through the Universal Periodic Review

In February, QUNO New York and QUNO Geneva, in collaboration with UPR Info, hosted a series of discussions on the subject of “Promoting Peacebuilding through the Universal Periodic Review.” These exchanges with the peacebuilding community in New York, come as a natural continuation of discussions in Geneva that aimed to raise awareness around the concept of sustaining peace and its relation to human rights. These discussions have been complemented by work with civil society actors from six case study countries undergoing their review under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in 2017.

The overall desire was to support overcoming the fragmentation within the UN and to promote the value of integrated action between peacebuilding and human rights actors on the ground and in the UN system by using the UPR to explore present practice and untapped potential within a specific Human Rights Council process – as called for both by the twin General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on sustaining peace (2016) as well as the UN Secretary General report on Sustaining Peace (2018). 

QUNO Geneva spoke to some of these points in February during the 37th session of the Human Rights Council High Level Panel on Mainstreaming, which focused on the UPR. To view the webcast (QUNO speaks at 1h56m) – and download the full statement – please click here

The statement emphasized that the cost of continued fragmentation is too high and suggested the following actions to support the UPR in better contributing to peacebuilding and sustaining peace activities of the UN: 
• Inclusion of conflict analysis in the UN Compilation and Stakeholders Compilations as well as National Reports. 
• Use of information prepared in the reports as part of horizon scanning and early warning 
• Making and implementing recommendations that intentionally link technical assistance for the prevention of Human Rights violations that if left unaddressed may lead to escalating grievances or even conflict 
The learning and the recommendations from the discussions and the case studies are yet to be published.


Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre

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