December 2017

QUNO publishes a 'Briefing for Friends' on the development of the Global Compact on Migration

The New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants was adopted by States in September 2016 and initiated a two-year process to develop two ‘Global Compacts’ aimed at improving States’ response to refugees and migrants.  Our briefing paper provides an update on the development of the Global Compact on Migration over the past year and details how the process is expected to proceed in 2018. QUNO has been working to support the adoption of a Global Compact on Migration that is ambitious, effective and human rights based.  This paper details how QUNO has been working on this issue and how Friends can engage with this process.

The full briefing paper can be found below.

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November 2017

Introducing New York’s Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform to Geneva

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.

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October 2017

The Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform hosts event entitled ‘Reflections on the Role of Women in the Prevention of Violent Conflict’

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.

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November 2017

QUNO publishes "A Negotiatior's Toolkit" featuring concise arguments for urgent climate action

"A Negotiator's Tookit" was created to support climate negotiators in their work to engage busy Ministries with reasons for urgent, rights-based climate action. Ministers and other decision makers face competing demands and priorities, but they may also be more receptive to one argument over another. One person may better respond to economic concerns, for example, another to scientific findings. The booklet offers eight concise summaries compiled from expert voices in climate change related sectors. We hope these summaries help negotiators engage with colleagues back home on why urgent, rights-based climate action is critical to the long-term well-being and stability of their countries. 

The summaries are based on presentations given by experts at a side event in May 2017, during the climate change conference in Bonn. The Healthier World Argument was compiled following this event. We are thankful to colleagues at Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University and at Newcastle University, for co-hosting this side event in May 2017. This booklet is a working draft, and comments are welcome.

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October 2017

QUNO co-hosts a Food Security and Sustaining Peace side-event at the World Committee on Food Security

QUNO co-hosted a side-event “Contributing to sustaining peace and conflict prevention: perspectives from agriculture, food security and nutrition” at the World Committee on Food Security (CFS) on 9 October.  Other co-hosts were the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme and the Netherlands. The standing-room-only attendance of over 70 indicated people’s broad interest in the the nexus between peace and food and nutrition security.  Nora Meier, who just finished her position as a Programme Assistant in QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Programme is now a consultant to FAO in an FAO-QUNO research project on the role of farmers’ seeds systems in sustaining peace. Nora presented her hypothesis and initial findings and noted that she would welcome input from the expertise at the CFS. After a lively discussion, delegates stayed to offer further information and encouragement to Nora and to Food & Sustainability Representative, Susan Bragdon.

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October 2017

QUNO co-hosts a side-event on irregular migration

The OHCHR, IFRC and QUNO together with the governments of Mexico, Switzerland, the Philippines and Portugal held a panel discussion during the last thematic consultation on the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. 

Focusing on the rights that irregular migrants have to essential services such as healthcare, education and housing, the panelists presented examples of initiatives and programmes that have helped irregular migrants fulfill this right in a practical and meaningful way.  These positive examples highlighted how the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration should also be drafted to facilitate greater access to essential services for migrants regardless of their status. 

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September 2017

The New York Declaration: One year later

On 19 and 20 September 2016, UN Member States made important commitments for refugees and migrants through signing the New York Declaration.  Exactly one year on, QUNO’s Laurel Townhead (Human Rights and Refugees Representative) joined other NGO representatives in an open briefing to member states to assess the achievements of the Declaration and the processes underway to deliver on the commitments made. Organised by ICVA, the event focused on how the two global compacts that the Declaration called for can be drafted to produce effective agreements.  

An effective global compact would recognize the existing human rights standards and contain actionable commitments based on these standards and follow up mechanisms that further their implementation. QUNO also delivered a statement with a similar message at the Human Rights Council on Monday 18 September (see below).

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September 2017

Implementing the New Commitments to Peace - Statement by 131 peacebuilding organizations

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:

  • Fully embrace the commitments to peace in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • Balance national efforts with a focus on external drivers of peace, justice and inclusion
  • Mainstream prevention, including in development, humanitarian action, and crisis response
  • Protect and support civil society inclusion

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.

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September 2017

QUNO Geneva welcomes a new Peace and Disarmament Representative

Florence Foster

After an international selection process, Florence Foster has been appointed Representative, Peace and Disarmament beginning 1 September.  Florence obtained her Masters degree in International Relations from Bristol University, UK, and has since specialized in displacement and conflict analysis, with an increasing emphasis on disarmament, mediation and conflict transformation. She began her career as an intern at the Global Protection Cluster and the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva.  She then moved onto focusing on West African conflict dynamics during her time at the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, with work in Côte d’Ivoire and Mali. Through her latest roles as Programme Manager at the Fondation Suisse de Déminage and Finn Church Aid, Florence led mediation and armed violence reduction initiatives in the Central African Republic.

We extend a warm welcome to Florence, while also bidding a fond farewell to Diane Hendrick, who successfully led QUNO's work in this area since January 2012, maintaining its core values and taking it in new directions. Diane has decided to return to her homebase in Austria, but we are fortunate that she arranged a smooth hand-over to Florence as Representative. 

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August 2017

Statement at the High Level Political Forum in New York in July 2017

From July 10-19, 2017, the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) took place in New York. The HLPF is the United Nations central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The theme of this year’s HLPF was ‘Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World’ and included the review of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14, and 17.

At the HLPF session on the review of SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), Susan H. Bragdon, QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Programme Representative, made a statement on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Cluster of the NGO Major Working Group. The latter is one of nine sectors of society working as main channels to facilitate broad participation in UN activities related to sustainable development. 

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