July 2016

QUNO engages with religious peacebuilders at UN event on violent extremism

The role of religion in violent conflict has received new attention in the context of recent terrorist attacks - but religiously motivated actors have long been involved in community and national level peacebuilding. In July, QUNO New York Director Andrew Tomlinson spoke at a UN event organised by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding entitled "Turning the Tide: Engaging Religiously-Motivated Peacebuilders in Conflict Zones",  alongside peacebuilders from Sri Lanka, Colombia and Afghanistan.

QUNO's comments stressed the central role of religious actors in strengthening the social fabric in many conflict-affected societies, and the supporting role that the international community can play, particularly in pushing back against the shrinking of civil society space that is affecting many countries today.  Tomlinson also emphasized the importance of approaches that  transform the position of women and respect human rights. 

In his speech, he also referred to the term "organized and politicized violence," which QUNO's sister organization, the American Friends Service Committee, is suggesting as an alternative to the often distorting lens of "countering violent extremism."

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July 2016

QUNO co-hosts high level meeting on Refugees, Migrants and the 2030 Agenda

On 20 July, 2016, QUNO co-hosted a policy forum discussion with the International Peace Institute in New York , along with the governments of Finland, Germany, Mexico and Morocco, entitled "Ensuring that no one is left behind: A High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Refugees", during the ministerial segment of the High Level Political Forum. At a time when the world is experiencing the largest movements of peoples in recorded history, the goal of the event was to connect the dots between the 2030 Agenda and the upcoming UN Summit in September that will address large movements of refugees and migrants.

Video of the event is available here.

Current UN discussions on displaced persons are fragmented, with separate silos for issues of refugees, migrants and internally displaced people, each with their own normative framing, organizational context and political sensitivities. The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development provides a new framing, using the mandate for peaceful, just and inclusive societies, and the imperative to "leave no-one behind", to address the needs and perspectives of all those who have been forced to leave their homes, whether from violence and conflict, climate change, or economic necessity.

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June 2016

QUNO supports civil society action on peace issues in the 2030 Agenda

Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by Member States in September 2015, is well on its way. To encourage coordinated and effective action, QUNO and the International Peace Institute brought together a broad array of civil society representatives at Quaker House to take stock of current initiatives, identify gaps and consider possibilities for collaboration, both on Goal 16 (on peace, justice and inclusive institutions) and on the peaceful societies issues within the SDGs more broadly. 

The meeting was remarkable for the interest shown by a wide range of organizations, working on issues ranging from disarmament to corruption, from peacebuilding to justice, governance and human rights, and included those working on issues of women and youth and political inclusion. 

QUNO was pleased to support key peace actors in coming together together as a community of like-minded groups working towards a common goal, at a time when the implementation of Goal 16 and related goals and targets are being cited as a core part of moving forward on peacebuilding and prevention.

Below is a summary document of the meeting. 

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June 2016

QUNO releases policy brief on intellectual property and small-scale farmer innovation

The relationship between intellectual property (IP) and small-scale farmer innovation is far from straightforward. The majority of innovation in agriculture is not driven by the promise of exclusionary rights that some IP tools afford — it takes place on the farm and is a collaborative and incremental process, the outcomes of which cannot be attributed to individual rights holders.

However some IP tools – when carefully selected and adapted to suit domestic circumstances – may have the potential to help drive small-scale farmer innovation or, at minimum, allow the space for it to occur unimpeded.

This paper discusses how alternative or sui generis plant variety protection systems, collective and certification trademarks, and geographical indications may encourage on-farm innovation.

On the other hand, IP tools that are more conventionally believed to incentivise innovation in agriculture (i.e. patents, UPOV-style plant variety protection systems, and less commonly trade secrets) have the potential to impede on-farm innovation.

Policy makers at the national level should take into account the value of small-scale farmer innovation for national and global food security when developing national food security strategies, and take advantage of the flexibilities allowed under the WTO TRIPS Agreement when implementing IP legislation that reflects the realities of domestic agricultural sectors.

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June 2016

QUNO co-hosts Geneva Peacebuilding Platform briefing

On Thursday 30 June, QUNO co-hosted a lunch time briefing meeting in conjunction with the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). 

The panel discussion at the event featured speakers from OHCHR, Lancaster University and American Friends Service Committe (AFSC), addressing the question: 'What role can economic, social and cultural rights play in the prevention of violent conflict?' 

The Geneva Peacebuilding Platform is a joint project of four institutions, with QUNO working alongside the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and Interpeace. 

For further information, including details of all speakers, please see the flyer attached below.

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June 2016

QUNO co-hosts event on prevention of conflict and human rights

QUNO co-hosted a side event during the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council on prevention and early warning of conflict, and the role of economic, social and cultural rights. The event took place on Wednesday 29 June at the Palais des Nations.

Co-organised with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), the panel discussion featured speakers from OHCHR, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Lancaster University. 

For further details, including details of all speakers, please see the flyer attached below.

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June 2016

QUNO co-hosts event on human rights of refugees and migrants

During the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council, QUNO co-hosted a side event on the human rights of refugees and migrants. Co-organised with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the event took place on Wednesday 29 June at the Palais des Nations.

The panel discussion featured speakers including the Ambassador of Ireland to the UN, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection. This event was also co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Ireland, the International Detention Coalition (IDC), Caritas Internationalis and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC).

For further details, including details of all speakers, please see the flyer attached below.

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June 2016

QUNO co-hosts event on women in conflict with the law

During the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, QUNO co-hosted a side event on the issue of the human rights of women in conflict with the law. Co-organised with Penal Reform International (PRI) and the Permanent Missions of Canada and Denmark, the event took place on 15 June at the Palais des Nations. The panel discussion was moderated by QUNO's Representative for Human Rights and Refugees, Laurel Townhead. For further information on this event, including details of all speakers, please see the flyer attached below.

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June 2016

QUNO signs joint Quaker statement on TTIP

In a written statement, five Quaker organisations from Europe and the United States have called on governments around the world, to ensure that trade contributes to a more equal, economically just and sustainable world. The statement comes in the context of building opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), that is currently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States of America.

American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Quaker Council for European Affairs, Quaker United Nations Office and Quaker Peace & Social Witness are concerned that some aspects of the global trade system are working counter to their vision of equality, truth, integrity, simplicity, and peace and global commitments, such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals. TTIP exemplifies these concerns, which however, also apply to other trade agreements such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).    

The shared Quaker statement states that while “properly regulated trade can benefit everyone by contributing to well-being and by strengthening relationships and understanding between different countries and culture,” […] it is important to see trade for what it is, namely, a “tool, not an end in itself.” Thus, rather than measuring the success of any trade agreement solely in economic terms, Quakers agree in their statement that “a truly successful trade deal will benefit the whole of society and the environment.”

Quakers are alarmed that in its current form, TTIP and its negotiations are prioritising the prospect of short-term economic gain over the longer-term factors necessary to human wellbeing and the protection of the Earth. Furthermore, the inclusion of the proposed Investor to State Dispute Settlement mechanism or Investment Court System, that “gives investors privileged rights to challenge social, environmental, health or other legislation, not open to ‘ordinary’ citizens, are fundamentally antidemocratic in nature and therefore unacceptable.” 

Quakers state that “truth and transparency are the only way to ensure real accountability.” They are concerned with the lack of public access to details of the TTIP negotiations. Therefore, in their statement, they urge governments to ensure that “trade negotiations are transparent and negotiating parties seek meaningful input […] from a broad spectrum of civil society throughout the negotiation process.”

Read the full statement here.

Photo: GotCredit/Flickr

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June 2016

QUNO hosts discussion on strengthening the UN-AU partnership

quno event

QUNO organized an informal discussion at Quaker House between African Union expert Dr. Cedric de Coning, civil society, UN staff and Member States. This meeting, during which Dr. de Coning provided his perspective on the state of the relationship between the UN and the African Union (AU), was a follow-up to a recent open debate in the Security Council on UN-AU cooperation for greater peace and security. The discussion was an opportunity for New York-based actors to gain insight into the inner workings of the AU and think of ways to enhance UN-AU cooperation from UN headquarters.

Improving the relationship between the UN and the AU has been a priority for the UN system over the past year, as a result of a recommendation from the recent UN report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) that calls for greater cooperation between these two institutions. As part of the Prevention of Violent Conflict program, QUNO has been honing into this recommendation, with a focus on building relationships between relevant UN actors engaged with the AU, including African Member States. This meeting was the first in a series of meetings that will take place in the informal setting of Quaker House and will bring UN, AU and African sub-regional organizations together to discuss issues of shared concern.

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