May 2016

Peacebuilding organizations in "Peace Promise" to address conflict drivers of humanitarian need

As the World Humanitarian Summit opens in Istanbul, peacebuilding organizations, including civil society, UN agencies and the World Bank, have issued a series of commitments - known as the "Peace Promise" - to more effective synergies among peace, humanitarian and development actions in complex humanitarian situations, with the aim of reducing human suffering by addressing the drivers of conflict and vulnerability.

In consultation with QUNO, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), as an operational agency, was one of 25 organizations to sign on. 

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May 2016

QUNO presents at WIPO seminar on intellectual property and genetic resources

On 27th May, QUNO's Susan Bragdon (Representative, Food & Sustainability), addressed state delegates and civil society at a seminar on intellectual property and genetic resources, hosted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva.

Her talk laid out the legal landscape for the governance of genetic resources and explained some of the complexities and inconsistencies that currently exist, with a particular focus on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

Countries across the world are interdependent on plant genetic resources for fulfilling their food security objectives, but there is a fundamental tension between the international legal architecture and communities on the ground. Susan's talk emphasised the importance of greater inclusivity and coordination between treaty bodies, as well as the need to better account for the needs of small-scale farmers, who play a key role in the maintenance and preservation of genetic resources.

By highlighting Sustainable Development Goal 2: "End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture", Susan offered a uniting objective that countries could use to help reconcile those treaties' disparate provisions.

You can watch the talk here by selecting 'Seminar on intellectual property and genetic resources'. Susan's talk begins at around 13mins in.

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May 2016

QUNO attends European conference on children of prisoners

From 20-22 May, QUNO attended the annual meeting of Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE), the European network of organizations working for the rights of children of incarcerated parents, held in Zagreb, Croatia.

The meeting allowed the sharing of experiences from across Europe, and discussion of new developments, policy concerns and good practice in this area.

A public conference on Friday 20 May, hosted in conjunction with the office of the Croatian Ombudsman for Children, brought together speakers from a range of institutions, including the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as many organizations working directly with prisoners and their families.  

QUNO's Daniel Cullen (Programme Assistant, Human Rights and Refugees) exhibited a conference poster at the event, which outlined the international standards relating to the children of incarcerated parents, highlighting how the Human Rights Council and Committee on the Rights of the Child have sought to address the issue in the past. 

During the COPE general assembly on Saturday 21 May, QUNO's application for full membership was formally accepted. For further information about the work of the network and its members, please visit the COPE website here

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April 2016

2016 Holley Lecture in Applied Ethics

On April 26, 2016, Andrew Tomlinson gave the 2016 Holley Lecture in Applied Ethics at Bloomfield College, New Jersey, entitled "Every country my country, and every man my brother: Values and transformation in international policy settings". 

The QUNO New York Director made the point that values can provide an effective and legitimate approach to international policy work, that progress is often made through engaging with the inconsistencies in the values that people hold, and that that fostering values-based change requires us to develop different strategies that (for us) include listening, reaching out, making connections to real peoples’ lives and creating safe spaces for new ideas to emerge.

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May 2016

Bringing member states together around the peaceful societies' agenda

In July, the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development will take place at the UN in New York. The HLPF will be the primary UN platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in September 2015. Twenty-two countries will undergo National Reviews during the HLPF, which will examine the processes they have undertaken to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a national level. 

In collaboration with the International Peace Institute (IPI), QUNO is working on a project to support member states involved in the upcoming HLPF, specifically in regards to the peaceful, just and inclusive societies' component of the 2030 Agenda. In adopting the SDGs, member states agreed that peace is a necessary precondition for sustainable development, with good governance, inclusive institutions and participatory decision-making of essential importance. 

QUNO and IPI brought together experts from among this group of 22 states at Quaker House, providing them with the opportunity to hear from one another and share insights and strategies on how they plan on integrating the peace components of the 2030 Agenda in their first national review. This informal, off-the-record meeting allowed for insightful updates on the process of implementing the SDGs at a national level--insights that are often absent in high-level policy discussions within the UN system. 

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April 2016

Bringing the perspectives of Chinese scholars to the UN

In April, AFSC and QUNO collaborated to bring three Chinese scholars and UN experts to the UN. During their short but productive trip, they presented their research on UN peace operations and shared their perspectives on three recent major UN reviews to a variety of Member States, UN officials, think tanks and other civil society actors in New York. China is becoming increasingly involved in supporting UN peace operations and peacebuilding in conflict-affected and post-conflict states, especially in Africa. Discussion on the three UN reviews remains at the forefront of the UN’s agenda and QUNO believes it is crucial to bring a diversity of voices and perspectives to this process. By bringing these scholars to the UN, QUNO and AFSC hope to have contributed to this effort and provided the space for frank and open dialogue about China’s involvement in peace operations. 

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April 2016

The Paris Climate Change Agreement: the most critical work begins now

Representative for Climate Change, Lindsey Fielder Cook, reflects on the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Over the course of three years leading up to COP21, QUNO engaged in quiet diplomacy at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), offering delegates a more 'human' space in what could seem at times like an inhuman environment.

The report, available below, offers insight into this process, thoughts on the Agreement itself and a vision for what might lie ahead.

The most critical work begins now.

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April 2016

Research paper: Access to seeds: lessons from the access to medicines debate

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This new research paper considers what lessons the access to medicines debate provides for those concerned with protecting farmers’ access to seeds. Taking the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health as its point of departure, this paper explores implications for interested parties at the international and national levels, as well as for multilateral institutions themselves.

Key messages include: 

1) The importance of public opinion and pragmatic coalition-building in raising the political capital to deal with sensitive negotiating topics;

2) The need for national governments to use TRIPS flexibilities in the same way that many already have for safeguarding access to medicines;

3) The urgent need for sustained, productive collaboration between relevant multilateral institutions to clarify the governance structure for plant genetic resources. By doing so they can help ensure farmers' continued freedom to experiment with, store, exchange and re-use seed - essential practices for maintaining biodiversity and achieving food security.

The paper, prepared by QUNO Programme Assistant Patrick Endall (Food & Sustainability, Climate Change) is available here, or by clicking on the link below.

All QUNO work is published under a Creative Commons license.

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March 2016

QUNO Geneva backs junior staff pay campaign

Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) Geneva is pleased to lend its support to the aims of the ‘We Pay Our Interns’ initiative, recently instituted by a group of Geneva-based non-governmental organizations.

While QUNO has chosen not to employ interns, we do instead provide annual Programme Assistant posts, which provide a year-long, paid and structured development opportunity for junior professionals.

QUNO particularly supports the principle of Articles 2 and 3 of the We Pay Our Interns Charter, which requires its member organisations to provide adequate levels of payment for junior staff, and to ensure a selection process free from discrimination of any kind. Further information about this campaign is available at: http://www.wepayourinterns.org

We are now accepting applications for three Programme Assistant vacancies for the 2016-17 period, working on Human Rights and Refugees, Peacebuilding and Climate Change, and Food and Sustainability. More information on these posts is available here.

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March 2016

QUNO delivers oral statement on minorities in criminal justice systems at the HRC

QUNO delivered an oral statement on the impact of discrimination against minorities in the criminal justice system during the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The issue was raised by QUNO in response to the presentation of the final recommendations from the eighth session of the Forum on Minority Issues, which had originally taken place during November 2015.

QUNO highlighted the relationship between the overcriminalization and overincarceration of minorities in criminal justice systems, and the disproportionate impacts of parental incarceration faced by minority children. We called upon States to protect and uphold the rights of members of minority groups, including children, in criminal justice systems.

Daniel Cullen, Programme Assistant for Human Rights and Refugees, delivered the statement during the Item 5 General Debate discussion on Wednesday 16 March.

The full text of the statement is linked below on this page, and video (beginning at chapter 20 on sidebar) is available at the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/human-rights-council/watch/item5-general-debate-42nd-meeting-31st-regular-session-human-rights-council/4803282611001 

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