Resources & Publications

This is a library of QUNO publications, newsletters, and statements. You can also explore these resources through their related Areas of Work or through this reference page of Recent Publications.

June 2016

Policy brief: The relationship between intellectual property rights 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

In & Around the UN, June 2016

QUNO New York is excited to share our most recent Newsletter, "In & Around the UN," featuring the following articles by our staff:

  • What's Next in Peacebuilding?
  • Letter from the New York Director
  • Pastor Elie's Visit to New York
  • Putting Prevention Back on the UN's Agenda
  • ​Updates from the Geneva Office
  • Closer Cooperation between the UN and Regional and Sub-regional Organizations
  • QUNO-AFSC Bring the Perspectives of Chinese Scholars to the UN
  • Celebrating the Work of Quakers at the UN

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May 2016

International Peace and Security - how human rights can help

In February 2016, QUNO Geneva and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) hosted an expert meeting on integrating human rights, peacebuilding and prevention of violent conflict within the United Nations systems.

The meeting addressed the following questions:

  • What advantages would it bring for UN work on peace and security to draw on existing human rights resources to increase effectiveness in peacebuilding and prevention of violent conflict?
  • What have been the consequences of the failure to work on the links between human rights and sustaining peace?
  • What are the pragmatic steps that could be taken within existing resources in UN institutions that would increase effectiveness, particularly of prevention of violent conflict?

This discussion took place in advance of the UN High-Level Debate on International Peace and Security, held in New York on 10-11 May 2016. The two-page briefing handout included below summarises the key points which were raised at the meeting. 

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April 2016

Access to seeds: lessons from the access to medicines debate

The history and dynamics of the access to medicines debate provide a number of reflections 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.

Three lessons stand out in particular.

  1. The process that led to the Declaration highlights the significance of global public opinion in shaping negotiations, as well as the value of combining this with pragmatic coalition-building amongst states, NGOs and the media.
  2. Domestically, national governments should make creative use of TRIPS flexibilities. This has been done to bring down the cost of medicines in numerous countries and should be emulated by governments wishing to protect farmers’ seed systems, which rely on experimentation, storage, exchange and re-use of seeds. ‘Access’ in this paper is taken to encompass these activities, rather than simply referring to the availability of new varieties developed by commercial breeders.
  3. There is an urgent need for sustained, productive collaboration between relevant multilateral institutions. Collaboration between the WHO, WTO and WIPO on access to medicines has facilitated a broader consideration of innovation. Similar engagement is necessary between the FAO, WTO, WIPO and others to clarify the complicated governance structure for plant genetic resources and ensure farmers’ continued access to seed.

Freely available for download below under Creative Commons license.

Author: 

  • Patrick Endall

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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.

Author: 

  • Lindsey Fielder Cook

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April 2016

Remarks by Andrew Tomlinson at the 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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February 2016

Statement on Peacebuilding perspectives on Religion, Violence and Extremism

In the midst of UN discussions on the Secretary-General's recent Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE), QUNO co-hosted the launch of three reports by Saferworld on counter-terrorism, stabilisation and statebuilding in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen. A packed room of Member States, UN officials, think tanks and NGOs engaged with multiple panels of speakers, including experts on PVE and the regions concerned, as well as UN representatives. 

These are QUNO's remarks.

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December 2015

Policy Brief: Small-scale farmer innovation

This policy brief consolidates lessons learned from an in-depth literature review on small-scale farmer (SSF) innovation systems and a two-day expert consultation on the same topic that QUNO hosted in May 2015. 

The key message here is that small-scale farmer innovation systems are unique relative to more ‘formal’ agricultural innovation systems. For this reason, the types of policies that are put in place to encourage innovation in agriculture require a fundamental reconsideration.

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December 2015

Policy Brief: The relationship between food security policy measures and WTO trade rules

This report first provides a historical overview of both the concept of food security and the incorporation of agriculture into international trade negotiations. It then turns to the relationship between food security policy options and the WTO’s trade rules, and highlights opportunities for governments to implement policies that support food security while meeting their international obligations. It concludes by laying out a range of policy measures to enhance food security, assessing the compatibility of each with WTO regulations. 

Prepared by David Elliott, based on a full-length report by Kim Burnett, available below. 

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December 2015

Geneva Reporter, December 2015

In this issue:

  • ​Nelson Mandela Rules ​
  • Conflict Sensitivity in Business 
  • ​Highlights from QUNO New York 
  • ​Recent publications
  • QUNO Q&A with Rachel Evans 
  • News in Brief 
  • Project Brief: An interactive trade policy tool 

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December 2015

Project Brief: An Interactive Trade Policy Tool

QUNO has been developing an online tool to help explain the complex relationship between food security measures and the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) trade rules. Susan Bragdon, our Food & Sustainability Representative, talks through her vision of the tool and how she believes it could benefit small-scale farmers, trade negotiators and food security.

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December 2015

QUNO remarks in Washington on the universal application of the peaceful, just and inclusive societies approach within the SDGs

QUNO New York Director, Andrew Tomlinson, was invited to speak at a meeting of the Washington-based Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum on 'The Future of Goal 16: Peace and Inclusion in the Sustainable Development Goals', along with Lynn Wagner of IISD and Cynthia Clapp-Wincek, a consultant and policy expert with the US government, in a session chaired by Liz Hume of the Alliance for Peacebuilding. Andrew's remarks focused on the universal application of the peaceful, just and inclusive societies agenda within the SDGs. The lively discussion included comments on the applicability of this approach to the US.

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November 2015

Small-scale farmer innovation systems: a review of the literature

Small-scale farmer innovation systems have remained an abstract and elusive concept - this document seeks clarification by presenting a review of the academic literature on the subject.

In it, we call for further evidence-based research documenting small-scale farmers' contributions to food security, livelihood improvement and agroecosystem resilience. Through this, we hope small-scale farmers may become more visible in policymaking and more supported within national innovation strategies.

Read the full report below:

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November 2015

The relationship between key food security measures and trade rules

The rules governing international trade in agriculture are often vague and ambiguous, requiring significant legal and administrative capacity to uncover opportunities to support food security and rural livelihoods without breaking WTO rules. This report identifies some of the measures that may be used to help advance developing countries’ food security in ways that comply with international obligations to reduce trade-distorting domestic supports and market protections.

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November 2015

ICM Inclusion Remarks

QUNO New York Director, Andrew Tomlinson, was invited to speak as a panelist in the public consultation on Social Inclusion hosted by the Independent Commission on Multilateralism at the International Peace Institute, together with Dr. Ilze Brands Kehris, and Omar El Okdah. His comments focused on the core nature of the issues of social inclusion, political participation and effective governance and their role in conflict prevention, the nature of inclusive national ownership in practice, and the need for the multilateral system to model inclusion in its own practices.

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November 2015

Reflections One Year Later and Charting a New Course for Gaza

In July, the United Nations Security Council met in an Arria-formula meeting on Gaza, co-chaired by the Permanent Missions of Malaysia and Jordan to the United Nations. The event was organised by the Israel Palestine NGO Working Group, of which QUNO NY is a member.

This booklet of the speaker's presentations has now been published. The speakers included Mr. Vance Culbert from Norwegian Refugee Council, Mr. Ardi Imseis of Cambridge University, Ms. Tania Hary from Gisha, and Dr. Sara Roy from the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University. 

Countries / Regions: 

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November 2015

Children of Incarcerated Parents and Minorities in Criminal Justice Systems

This briefing paper was prepared for the 8th session of the UN Forum on Minority Issue in November 2015, and revised in August 2016 to incorporate recommendations of the Forum. The risks faced by children of incarcerated parents can be compounded by criminal justice and penal systems that do not take notice of their existence or do not see their rights as relevant considerations. The disproportionate criminalization of members of minority groups means that minority children are also disproportionately affected. This briefing outlines how the impact of this can exacerbate risks and exclusion faced by children from minority groups and lays out recommendations to States to ensure that the rights of minority children whose parents are arrested, prosecuted or imprisoned are upheld.

Author: 

  • Daniel Cullen

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November 2015

Small-scale farmer innovation systems: A review of the literature

This literature review marks QUNO’s step back from focusing on intellectual property rights (IPR) to ask more broadly: What are the types of innovation in agriculture that we as a global community want to encourage? From here, we explore the types of policy measures that might do so — including but not limited to IPR.

Innovation in agriculture is most commonly associated with the development and transfer of technologies to farmers (innovation for farmers), or more recently, farmers’ participation in research and development projects to improve the relevancy and usefulness of its outputs (innovation with farmers). However the innovation that happens on the farm (innovation by farmers) has been largely overlooked. Small-scale farmer innovation is not widely recognized within academia or international bodies relating to trade, intellectual property rights, plant genetic resources or biodiversity conservation.

As a result, efforts to promote innovation in agriculture have mostly be concentrated on creating incentives for private sector investment in research and development — commonly by establishing strong intellectual property rights regimes, ensuring open access to markets, and increasing technology adoption rates among farmers. These strategies are generally focused on promoting innovation for and with farmers, rather than nurturing the innovation that is happening all the time on the farm.

The key points distilled from this relatively nascent body of literature include:

  • Farmers are driven to innovate for many different reasons, which include but go beyond opportunities to participate in commercial markets.
  • Farmers innovate through informal networks of social and economic relations in an iterative and cumulative process, the results of which are not easily attributed to individuals.
  • The scope of what is considered ‘innovation’ is broader, including but not limited to the development of new technologies, the adaption of new technologies developed elsewhere to suit local conditions and needs, the active maintenance and further development of plant genetic resources and associated knowledge, and social / organizational innovation to mitigate the affects of climate change and market volatility.  
  • Outside entities may support small-scale farmer innovation by increasing exposure of their innovative capacity, facilitating knowledge sharing, providing supplementary support where required and providing financial resources directly to farmers.

There remain significant gaps in the literature:

  • The contributions of small-scale farmers to local and global food security, rural livelihoods and agroecosystem resilience is not well documented in academia. More evidence-based research is required.
  • Efforts to measure farmers’ innovation in absence of outside intervention are in their infancy.
  • There is also limited evaluation of the quality of support currently available to innovative farmers, and it is difficult to isolate farmers’ capacity to innovate while international organizations play an increasingly visible role in participatory research.