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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July 2017

QUNO participation at YMG 2017 in Warwick

QUNO was excited to join Friends at Yearly Meeting Gathering (YMG) 2017 in Warwick. YMG is a week-long event held every three years by Quakers in Britain, that brings together Quakers, friends and families for an exciting week of community and movement-building. QUNO was represented at YMG by Lindsey Fielder Cook, Andrew Tomlinson, Laurel Townhead and Jonathan Woolley, and participated in four workshops, as well as both nights of the Groups Fair. 

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July 2017

QUNO NY Director delivers a statement during the UN High-Level event on Human Security and its contribution to the 2030 Agenda

"The human security approach is instrumental to sustainable development, inclusive peace, justice and the well-being and dignity of all people and it is, in fact, central to the 2030 Agenda" - UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohamed

QUNO New York's Director, Andrew Tomlinson, delivered a statement at the UN High-Level Event on "Human Security and its Contribution to Agenda 2030" held on 7 July in New York. Organised by the UN Human Security Unit in close collaboration with the Friends of Human Security, the event provided an opportunity for participants to share experiences and best practices on how human security contributes towards implementing the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. 

This high-level meeting was timely as the world currently faces multiple humanitarian crises, with over two million people displaced or living in conflict affected areas. The theme of the meeting emphasized resilient societies which are at the core of the 2030 agenda, promoting a world “free from poverty, hunger, disease and want”. 

A number of UN actors and Member State representatives spoke on the panel, as well as Thera Boubacar from the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), a member of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC). QUNO also participated from the floor, as the only civil society organization formally requested to speak during the discussion. Mr. Tomlinson echoed the timeliness of the event, saying "agenda 2030, which all states have committed to, provides a roadmap, which is in line with the human security approach and supports resilience.” He took the opportunity to remind the room that the 2030 Agenda includes a commitment by all member states to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies and that the biggest challenge being faced is uneven implementation. Additionally, he brought attention to the continued challenge of the shrinking of space for civil society working to advance these agendas. 

In his statement, he noted that "We are at a critical point where precedents and patterns are being set," and called for all stakeholders to urgently recommit to the peace mandate within the 2030 Agenda, which provides a clear road map by which humanitarian and development objectives can be achieved. 

Mr. Tomlinson’s oral statement can be found at 1:56:09

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July 2017

QUNO advocates for inclusive approaches to peacebuilding funding at PBC annual session

QUNO was one of four civil society organizations that participated in the UN Peacebuilding Commission’s (PBC) annual session held on 30 June 2017, on the topic of “Partnerships for Financing for Peace”. The session’s focus was timely as adequate financing and partnerships are critical areas for peacebuilding efforts. Official development assistance to conflict affected countries is often insufficient, unevenly distributed, and short term. Additionally, funding during transitions from conflict to peace needs to be maintained to sustain peace and build resilience – a key area where the UN aims to make improvements. The PBC’s session provided a platform to reflect on lessons learned and key policy gaps in financing and partnerships for peacebuilding, and provided the opportunity to discuss options and innovative solutions to address challenges.

It was against this backdrop that the PBC convened a wide range of strategic stakeholders from within and outside the UN, including international financial institutions, regional bodies, member states, civil society and the private sector. The day included panel discussions and interactive sessions, which provided opportunities for participants to share their views, experience, and questions.

QUNO was asked to assist with the coordination of civil society participation in the event, and was pleased that this support allowed for four organizations to lend their voices to the discussions. QUNO New York Director, Andrew Tomlinson, contributed actively in the interactive discussions alongside Saferworld, the International Peace Institute (IPI) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). We were also pleased to see our partners at the Alliance for Peacebuilding featured during one of the panel sessions.

In the first session, on good practices to ensure sustainable financing, discussions centered on the need to find better ways to coordinate action between stakeholders in fragile contexts, and on finding innovative funding options. QUNO noted that effective use of existing funding needs to be made by “ensuring all humanitarian and development action is deployed in such a way as to support – or at worst not work against – the commitment to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies and sustaining peace”. For example, many UN programs still do not mainstream conflict sensitive approaches into their programming, and this is a key area where the UN can improve the effective use of existing funds to sustain peace. 

The second session was on the topic of redefining partnerships and the potential for increased collaboration to mobilize resources for peace. The importance of inclusion and non-financial resources were highlighted, especially relating to the role women and youth play in sustaining peace. Mr. Tomlinson remarked on the need to make peacebuilding funding more effective by piloting longer term funding cycles for peacebuilding projects, by scaling up peacebuilding efforts to regional and national levels, and by making peacebuilding projects more inclusive. 

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July 2017

QUNO participates in Dialogue and Exchange Program on the role of youth in prevention

“…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.

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