March 2017

QUNO at the Human Rights Council: a focus on children of parents facing the death penalty as victims of torture

On 1st March 2017, the annual High Level Panel on the question of the death penalty was held at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council. This year’s panel focussed on how the death penalty relates to torture.

During the panel, Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment highlighted the impact of the death penalty on children:

The death penalty is… first of all, in my view, a question of life and how we define ourselves as human beings, as States and as an international community. Do we really want to retain a retributive system, deliberately inflicting pain and anguish on convicts, on their parents, on their spouses, on their children?... Or do we prefer to define ourselves on different terms, focusing not only on the inherent dignity of convicts, victims and families but also on the dignity and moral authority of our human society as a whole? ”

In light of the panel’s focus on torture, we submitted a written and oral statement at this session of the Council, highlighting that the sentencing to death or execution of a parent leads to a violation of the child’s right to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (CIDT) or torture under international law. 

The written statement can be found here.

The oral statement, delivered by Catherine Baker, Programme Assistant for Human Rights and Refugees at the High Level Panel, can be found at 2.09.45 on the video of the panel.

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February 2017

QUNO Attends 33rd IGC on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at WIPO

In February 2017, QUNO attended the opening of the 33rd session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. While the last two sessions were concerned with Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge respectively, this week’s meeting will focus on Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCEs). In particular, the member states will be debating the development of an international legal framework to protect TCEs and will intend to narrow existing gaps and reach common understanding on core issues. This includes the continuing negotiations around policy objectives, beneficiaries, scope of protection, administration of rights, and exceptions and limitations.  

QUNO welcomes the opportunity to be part of this session and will continue to monitor the progress of the negotiations this week. It supports the statements made by the Chair and the Indigenous Caucus, which called on member states to contribute to the Voluntary Fund, which depends on voluntary contributions of member states, has been depleted since 2014. Therefore, the IGC has not been able to provide direct funding for representatives of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities to participate in the IGC sessions.

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February 2017

Chinese Perspectives on Africa's Peace and Security Challenges: Views from the Field

QUNO, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) convened a two-day workshop in New York that provided a forum for academics from various Chinese institutions to share their research and perspectives on peace and security issues in Africa with a broad policy audience. With support from a joint SSRC-AFSC pilot fellowship program, six Chinese PhD scholars completed research in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Zimbabwe and at the African Union where they looked at China’s engagement in UN peace operations, regional partnerships, and the role of China’s commercial interests in sustaining peace. In addition to co-sponsoring the workshop, QUNO’s UN Representative for the Prevention of Violent Conflict, Rachel Madenyika, participated as a discussant, sharing her reflections on the role of business in prevention and sustaining peace.

China continues to rapidly increase its participation in UN peace operations, and is becoming more involved in supporting peace operations and peacebuilding efforts in conflict affected countries and regions, especially in Africa. During the workshop, participants reflected on how in China there is an increasing focus on the importance of investing in development projects as a way to foster peace and address root causes of conflict. Chinese development actors and investors moving these projects forward face challenges with identifying and understanding the drivers and root causes of conflict. 

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February 2017

QUNO contributed to GAFSP Monitoring and Evaluation Plan

In February 2017, QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Programme was asked to contribute to the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) document, which is intended to serve as a reference to all Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) stakeholders. The updated plan will guide all new projects in the GAFSP portfolio going forward: on what is required at each stage of the project cycle, including applying and reporting against the GAFSP indicators. GAFSP emphasizes the role of monitoring and evaluation and learning on their website (see link below). Their M&E Plan reflects the strong results-oriented nature of GAFSP fund.

QUNO commends GAFSP for its transparency in seeking input from a wide range of interested parties at this early stage in developing its plan. In her written contribution submitted to the Working Group, Programme Representative Susan H. Bragdon voiced concern with “using [crop] yields as an indicator with no modifier […].”   Industrial agriculture may have increased the yield of some crops but this has come with high environmental costs. Susan therefore suggested “if increase in yields is an indicator, it needs to be yield per units of water and energy and environmental externalities” […], such as Greenhouse Gas emissions, soil erosion, and biodiversity loss. Furthermore, Susan emphasized the importance of including “impact on diversity grown and consumed […]” Susan noted this is of particular importance in light of dietary simplification being a cause of ‘hidden hunger’ and the nutrition transition that underpins obesity. Throughout the M&E report, Susan also highlighted the need to explicitly include agricultural biodiversity, in-situ and on-farm, as being critical to the long-term sustainability of any intervention for food and nutrition security.

QUNO is looking forward to the publication of the finalized report and welcomed the opportunity to contribute. 

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February 2017

New Collaborative Project ‘Developing New Insights into Peacebuilding’

QUNO will be undertaking a project collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and Lancaster University Law School. The project titled ‘Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) and Sustaining Peace - Developing New Insights into Peacebuilding’ is partially funded by Lancaster University Faculty of Social Science and Lancaster University Law School and will run until July 2017.

This impact and knowledge exchange project aims to enhance knowledge and understanding of the role of economic, social and cultural rights (ECSRs) in sustaining peace. The idea is to exchange knowledge and share practices and experiences of the use of such rights within the peacebuilding and human rights communities and across disciplines to develop innovative practice. Two knowledge exchange workshops will be held the first in Geneva in February 2017 and the second in Lancaster in July 2017. 

More information can be found on the project’s website.

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February 2017

New briefing for Friends on opportunities and challenges for the protection of refugees and migrants at the UN level

We are pleased to launch a new briefing paper for Friends: ‘Protecting refugees and migrants under the New York Declaration: challenges and opportunities at the UN level.’

On September 19th 2016, the UN set a new agenda under the ‘New York Declaration’ for responding to large movements of people crossing borders. Our briefing aims to inform Friends about the Declaration and the developments it initiates for improving global governance on refugees and migrants. It also describes how QUNO is engaging in these opportunities, as well as ways that Quakers around the world can link up with, and benefit from, UN level initiatives.

This weekend, we are sharing this briefing at the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network (QARN) conference on forced migration. The QARN conference, at Woodbrooke Study Centre in Birmingham, UK aims to connect Friends in the UK interested in responding to forced migration issues. Our briefing and our workshop at the conference aims to connect our UN work and the opportunities it presents to local initiatives amongst Quakers in the UK. 

Photo: contributing to the tree of current actions Friends are taking on refugee and migrant issues.

 

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January 2017

Sustaining Peace and the 2030 Agenda: Opportunities for Prevention

On the occasion of the High Level Debate, “Building Sustainable Peace for All”, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform held an informal, off the record lunch discussion on “Sustaining Peace and the 2030 Agenda: Opportunities for Prevention” to further explore avenues for strengthening prevention at the UN through leveraging synergies between Sustaining Peace and the 2030 Agenda. The meeting sought to identify what opportunities exist for promoting civil society-UN cooperation, and how to ensure that such efforts can have a direct impact on the populations in focus. The conversation brought together CSO perspectives and experiences on the ground, UN actors and Member States. 

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January 2017

QUNO Attended 16th Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Rome 30 January – 3 February 2017

QUNO’s Food and Sustainability (F&S) programme representative Susan H. Bragdon attended the 16th regular session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture at the FAO headquarters in Rome from 30 January to 3 February 2017. She closely followed the session, regional consultations, and side events as well as the one-day special event on the Contribution of Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture to Resilience.

The F&S programme team welcomed the opportunity to attend this event and was encouraged by the cross-sectorial work that has been done as well as by the reports and plans of action on plant genetic resources that have been produced.  

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November 2016

Expert Consultation on the Role of Government in Supporting Small-Scale Farmers and Agricultural Biodiversity

On November 6-8, 2016, the QUNO Food and Sustainability Programme hosted an expert consultation on the role of the public sector in supporting small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity at Chateau de Bossey, just outside of Geneva. 15 participants from around the world and representing a variety of professional backgrounds came together to discuss how to best help governments determine their roles in ensuring food security and to develop tools for them to create national food policies with small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity at their core.

While this consultation was only the beginning of a process with the long-term objective of achieving more just and sustainable food systems, the below documents were produced in preparation for the meeting as well as a result of the discussion held throughout. 

 

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December 2016

QUNO Representative interviewed by QuakerSpeak to reflect on Quaker approach on Sustainability

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.

Watch the whole video here.

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