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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March 2018

QUNO speaks at a side event on 'Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants'

On 2nd March Laurel Townhead, QUNO’s Human Rights and Refugees Representative, spoke on a panel on ‘Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants’ on the margins of the Human Rights Council.  The Panel aimed to highlight the pressing need for the human rights of migrants to be respected in the face of the restrictive environment that is prevalent in many countries with respect to migrants. Full video of the panel event is available below.

The other panelists were Nils Melzer, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders and Pia Oberoi, an advisor on migration and human rights in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Opening remarks were given by Ambassador Zellweger, from the Permanent Mission of Switzerland.

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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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March 2018

QUNO, in partnership with GPPAC, releases new report, Building Sustainable Peace

Following extensive interview and desk based research, QUNO and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) released their report, ‘Building Sustainable Peace: How inclusivity, partnerships and a reinforced UN Peacebuilding Architecture will support delivery.’

This report builds upon our past peacebuilding body of work, including our 2015 report Filling the Gap, and serves to contribute towards the forward momentum on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. It is the result of desk research as well as interviews with over 35 diverse Member State and UN representatives at UN Headquarters, which provided ample opportunity to learn first-hand how the resolutions have shaped policy and practice by those intimately involved in these processes.

GPPAC and QUNO have a long-standing history engaging with the UN’s Peacebuilding Architecture, and seeking to support and enhance the normative, political, and operational advancement of peacebuilding at the UN. We have continued to lend our voices and expertise during this dynamic time as peacebuilding and prevention have been brought to the fore of the UN’s work following the adoption of the sustaining peace resolutions, as well as other milestones such as the progress made on the 2030 Agenda, the welcoming of the new UN Secretary-General (UNSG), and steps taken with regards to the UNSG’s reform processes.

From our research report, we identified 5 key messages and developed practical recommendations for the UN, Member States and peacebuilding practitioners that will contribute towards the ongoing efforts to build sustainable peace. Our key messages include:

  1. Sustaining peace should be recognised as an evolutionary development that builds upon decades of progress in the UN’s understanding of peacebuilding and conflict prevention. It is also based on the UN’s experience accompanying these processes at the regional and country level around the world.
  2. Member States, with UN support, should now focus on turning words into action to deliver sustainable peace in a comprehensive, integrated and coherent manner at UN Headquarters and regional and country levels.
  3. Sustaining peace provides an opportunity to learn from and build upon the work of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), but far more remains to be done to enhance the PBC’s capacities.
  4. Inclusivity and partnerships are critical to sustaining peace but remain under-utilised in practice.
  5. Barriers and fragmentation that persist must be overcome.

To read the full report, please click here.

To read the post on this report on GPPAC's "UN Insights" blog, please click here.

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March 2018

QUNO gives an oral statement on environmental rights at the 37th session of the Human Rights Council

During the clustered interactive dialogue discussing the Special Rapporteurs' reports on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment (by Mr John Knox) as well as on the right to food at the 37th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva; Isobel Edwards, on behalf of QUNO Geneva, gave a statement on human rights and the environment. Please take a look at the full recording, with Isobel Edwards speaking at 27 minutes in, as well as the written oral statement below.

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February 2018

QUNO gives an oral statement on sustaining peace and the UPR at the 37th session of the Human Rights Council

During the panel discussion on Human Rights Mainstreaming at the 3rd Meeting of the 37th Regular Session Human Rights Council in Geneva, Florence Foster, on behalf of QUNO Geneva gave a statement on sustaining peace and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights picked up on the QUNO statement in her concluding words on the panel. Please take a look at the full recording, with Florence Foster speaking at 1 hour 56 minutes and Mary Robinson at 2 hour 5 minutes as well as the written oral statement below.

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February 2018

QUNO to speak at a side event on 'Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants' during the 37th Human Rights Council session

QUNO's human rights and refugees representative Laurel Townhead will be a panelist at the a side event entitled 'Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants' on Friday 2nd March at 12.00 - 13.30 in room XXIII of the Palais des Nations in Geneva.  This event will provide an opportunity to discuss how to enhance the human rights of both migrants and those defending the rights of migrants.  Laurel will be focusing on how the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration that is being negotiated in New York this year is the opportunity for States to deliver an international agreement that will indeed protect the human rights of all migrants regardless of status and those that defend the rights of migrants.      

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January 2018

Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform hosts meeting entitled ‘What UN Peace and Security Reform means for Prevention’

On January 24, 2018, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform hosted an event entitled ‘What UN Peace and Security Reform means for Prevention.’ Held nearly one year after the appointment of the new UN Secretary-General and the elevation of his initial vision of prevention as the core UN priority, this event provided an opportunity for civil society and UN actors to constructively discuss the meaning of the UN Peace and Security Reform for the UN’s prevention agenda. The objective of this meeting was to discuss the impact of the Peace and Security Reform on the UN and its civil society partners, reflect on key themes, identify concrete areas for civil society to better engage with the UN and provide space for an open and constructive dialogue on how UN and civil society cooperation can contribute to the UN’s work on prevention.

Hosted at Quaker House, participants at this off-the-record meeting agreed that the Peace and Security Reform has potential when integrated with the parallel Development and Management Reforms. The Peace and Security Reform tries to tackle the system’s organizational shortcomings that have made the conceptualization and operationalization of prevention so challenging for the UN at a time when the international system is stretched to its limits as a result of emerging and reemerging conflict. Participants expressed that despite the reform being somewhat headquarters focused, there is a strong regional dimension that tries to address fragmentation. All participants reflected that greater local and regional engagement with civil society actors would enhance the value of the UN’s work on prevention. The discussion highlighted that there are entry points for civil-society in both analysis and measurement of conflict.

As co-facilitators of the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform, the event was co-hosted by QUNO, represented by Rachel Madenyika (UN Representative), and GPPAC (Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict).  Established in 2016, 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.

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December 2017

Sustaining Peace: Partnerships for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding

“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.

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