Timeline

June 2017

Conscientious objection to military service: activities at the 35th Session of the Human Rights Council

The 35th Session of the Human Rights Council saw important developments on the issue of conscientious objection to military service.

QUNO welcomes the presentation to the Council of the Analytical report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, noting in particular its focus on good practice towards recognition of this right and the serious gaps in implementation around the world. The report offers a series of concrete recommendations to States towards closing this implementation gap.

The next quadrennial resolution on this issue is due at the next session of the Human Rights Council in September. QUNO was pleased to hear the core group who lead this resolution, Croatia, Costa Rica and Poland, make a joint statement at this session of the council. The statement can be viewed at chapter 4 on the video of this meeting.

QUNO hosted a side event on Monday 19th June at the Human Rights Council, focussed on implementation of the right to conscientious objection to military service. The side event explored the High Commissioner’s report and what further steps the Council can take on the issue of conscientious objection to military service.

QUNO also made a statement on this issue at this session of the Council. Our statement can be viewed here (chapter 63).

QUNO will continue to support greater recognition and implementation of the right to conscientious objection to military service, and will be engaging closely with the upcoming resolution in September. 

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June 2017

QUNO Co-hosted Preliminary Meeting to Expert Group Meeting on SDG 2

Prior to the Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on the progress made towards achieving SDG 2, QUNO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) co-hosted a preliminary meeting on Sunday 11 June with about 20 experts. It is the first time for many organizations from Rome to get to know the New York processes. The preliminary meeting allowed New York and Europe-based experts to learn from one another about the different approaches and dynamics between different UN locations, to understand the specific concerns of those attending, to get to know one another better and to find ways to complement and support one another where appropriate. The meeting was very successful with people leaving feeling a real sense of comradery and support. The positive effect on the running of the EGM of this pre-meeting was clear. QUNO Geneva is grateful to Andrew Tomlinson and his staff for allowing us to use Quaker House at the last moment and on a Sunday!

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June 2017

Susan Bragdon Nominated to Attend Expert Group Meeting on Implementation of SDG 2

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), has organized an expert group meeting on progress in achieving SDG 2, from 12 to 13 June 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York. QUNO’s Food & Sustainablity Representative Susan Bragdon was one of a 100 experts nominated by the organizers to attend.

The two-day expert group meeting was convened in preparation for the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. The meeting brought together a diverse group of experts and stakeholders in an interactive dialogue to assess progress achieved in reaching the targets of SDG 2, identify challenges at the national and international levels, and produce key political messages and policy recommendations in advance of the HLPF. 

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June 2017

Towards a Human Rights Based Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration: Paper #3: Implementation, Monitoring and Accountability Mechanisms

This paper presents examples of implementation, monitoring and accountability mechanisms under six multilateral agreements that we believe can be learnt from in considering how to achieve an effective global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. The examples draw on a range of international agreements from different areas of policy and range from long-standing UN mechanisms to very recent agreements for which the specific means of implementation are still under negotiation. This paper hopes to assist stakeholders in considering some of the potential options for effective implementation of this new international agreement.

This paper is part of QUNO’s paper series, “Towards a Human Rights Based Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” a set of contributions to the global compact on migration process. To access these papers, please see this section of our website.

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June 2017

QUNO to host side event on the Right to Conscientious Objection to Military Service: Towards Implementation

QUNO will host a side event at the 35th Session of the Human Rights Council on the issue of conscientious objection to military service. The event will be held on Monday 19 June 2017, 12:00-13:00 Room XXVII, at the Palais des Nations.

Following the presentation to the Human Rights Council of the Analytical report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights this side event will explore the report and look to what further steps the Council can take on the issue of conscientious objection to military service.

It will feature a panel of the following speakers:

  • Ambassador Vesna Batistić Kos, Permanent Mission of Croatia Ambassador Piotr Stachanczyk, Permanent Mission of Poland
  • Seungho Park, World Without War (Republic of Korea) TBC
  • Michael Wiener, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Moderator: Laurel Townhead, Quaker United Nations Office
Light refreshments will be served after the side event
If you would like to attend and do not have a valid grounds pass please contact Catherine Baker (cbaker@quno.ch) by Thursday 15 June.

 

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June 2017

In & Around the UN

Our New York office is happy to share our most recent Newsletter, "In & Around the UN," featuring articles on our recent visit to the Middle East; QUNO's participation in the Women's March; reflections on Somali refugees, and more. 

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June 2017

Briefing the Committee on the Rights of the Child on children of prisoners

On 31st May 2017, the Child Rights Connect Working Group on Children of Incarcerated Parents held a briefing and discussion with the Committee on the Rights of the Child, focussing on the rights of children of incarcerated parents.

Laurel Townhead (QUNO) and Rachel Brett (COPE member) provided an introduction, highlighting work done so far by the Committee, particularly since the Day of General Discussion in 2011. They noted that despite significant advances in understanding on this issue, implementation remains patchy and more can be done by the Committee to ensure protection of these children’s rights.

Their introductions were followed by a discussion with members of the Committee, many of whom have a long-standing commitment to this issue. The main points raised in the discussion were:

  • The need for child rights perspectives to be taken up in cases involving separation of children from their arrested or incarcerated parent, particularly by the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Consideration of how best to protect the rights of children detained with their mothers and ensuring that their best interests are met, including in the Latin American context.
  • Alternatives to imprisonment such as home detention.
  • Good practice from South Africa based on a Constitutional Court ruling setting out a test for taking the best interests of the child into account when sentencing their primary carer.
  • Protection of children and ensuring childcare arrangements are in place in situations of arrest of a parent.
  • The lack of services available in many countries for children affected by parental imprisonment, particularly health and social services.
  • Good practice examples in protecting these children’s rights, such as the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Italian Ministry of Justice, the children’s ombudsman and the main NGO working on this issue in Italy.
  • The importance of continuing to raise this in reviews and in Concluding Observations and work done with regional networks to provide the Committee with information about the situation in countries as they report.
  • The interest and possibility of a General Comment by the Committee on this issue.

 

 

For more information please see the following documents shared with the Committee members:

  • A short briefing by the QUNO on the Committee’s work to date on this issue.
  • A longer briefing paper Committee’s work on children of incarcerated parents. L. Townhead ‘Briefing Paper: Children of Incarcerated Parents International Standards and Guidance’, (2015) Quaker United Nations Office.
  • The Italian Memorandum of Understanding.
  • Child Rights Connect Working Group on Children of Incarcerated Parents’ recommendations for States based on Italian good practice.

 

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June 2017

Threats to US support for the United Nations: affirming core values

The international community of Friends set up the Quaker UN offices 70 years ago to support the United Nations (UN) in its work to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. 

Recent proposals from the new US administration and from the US Congress to reduce US engagement with the UN could damage its ability to carry out its life-saving work. These proposals include draft Executive Orders and legislation in the House and Senate proposing significant funding cuts and other forms of disengagement with the UN.

Global military spending is $1.6 trillion, dwarfing the $8 billion UN peacekeeping budget and total UN-related spending of $48 billion. While the US is the largest financial contributor to the United Nations, its annual total contribution to the UN and its agencies represents only 0.1% of the total Federal Budget. Cuts in US funding would put at risk the UN’s important work to address the most critical and pressing issues facing the world.

While it remains to be seen how the various draft bills and draft Executive Orders may or may not progress, the existence of such measures shows the growing uncertain environment facing the UN and global efforts for peace more broadly. 

QUNO has produced the below background document, which will be updated as appropriate, to provide additional information and resources to learn more about this pressing issue.

For those in the United States, FCNL, the Better World Campaign and the UN Association of the USA provide avenues for action in support of the UN, including ways to contact legislators.

Stay informed about QUNO's work, including updates to the below background document, by signing up for our newsletter

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May 2017

Preventing Violence - Community-based approaches to Early Warning and Early Response

On 22 May, QUNO, as one of the co-facilitators of the Civil Society – UN Prevention Platform, hosted a publication launch and discussion on: “Preventing Conflict: Community-based approaches to Early Warning and Early Response.”  The lead author of the publication, Steven Leach, reflected on the report’s key findings and recommendations. He brought to attention the importance of building trust-based relationships when developing and implementing community approaches to Early Warning and Early Response. Additionally, he noted that promoting an inclusive approach, mainly to involve communities from the margins, is essential. Marginalized communities often experience escalated tensions and violence first, and excluding such communities risks reinforcing cycles of violence that they experience. 

Joined by various panelists from the Office of Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN, the discussion offered a broad range of views and reflections drawing from their experiences in community-based approaches to early warning and early response.  Participants emphasized the importance of early response as a critical prevention tool. It was also acknowledged that effective peacebuilding in a community setting takes a significant amount of time and relies on inclusive dialogue, community engagement and trust building. The Civil Society – UN Prevention Platform has continued to hold thematic discussions to support the prevention agenda at the UN and create an interactive platform for civil society, UN actors, and member states to exchange information and share best practices. 

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May 2017

QUNO hosts the Friends Church Peace Teams

An essential part of QUNO’s work to promote peacebuilding and prevention at the UN is to ensure that diverse voices inform discussions, particularly practitioners working at the local level and communities that would be impacted by policies. In May, QUNO hosted, Getry Agizah, a Kenyan Quaker, and Coordinator of the Friends Church Peace Teams (FCPT)/ Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC) to share her work on peacebuilding at the community level. Getry, a proud peace builder, works tirelessly to transform societies in the western Kenya region. During her visit, Getry shared her perspectives on local-level peacebuilding by highlighting examples of how she has successfully used her training in Alternatives to Violence (AVP) and Healing and Rebuilding our Communities (HROC) to support the communities she works with in the areas of healing, and reconciliation.

On the first day of her two-day visit to New York, Getry took part in a meeting with a diverse group of New York-based civil society organizations to explore key themes that she has found in her work. Some of the emerging themes were the need to build trust with and work directly with communities, as this supports efforts to build peace. Additionally, she brought attention to the need to fully understand the context of the environment one is working in, including recognizing the challenges facing marginalized communities such as extreme poverty and post-conflict trauma. Getry noted the value and impact of including women and youth in peacebuilding and shared her experiences with projects she has led working with orphans, and women in the community. On the second day, she took part in bilateral meetings with member states and UN actors to further discuss and explore the need for inclusivity and reconciliation in local peacebuilding initiatives. QUNO was glad to have hosted her and hopes she will return to provide updates to UN, civil society and member state colleagues on the impact of her work and share more on local peacebuilding perspectives.

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May 2017

QUNO co-hosted a side-event on the margins of the consultations for the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration

QUNO co-hosted a side event with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and co-sponsored by the Governments of Portugal, El Salvador, Canada, Switzerland and Mexico, at the first consultation session for the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

The event, Protecting the human rights of migrants in vulnerable situations, in May focused on how UN Member States can better combat abuse and exploitation suffered by migrants in vulnerable situations, and better protect migrants’ rights under international human rights law. It drew in particular on a set of 'principles and practical guidance on the human rights protection of migrants in vulnerable situations', which have been developed by the Global Migration Group.

The consultations were the first time that Member States met to discuss what should be included in the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. As such, this timely event sought to strengthen the message that protecting the human rights of all migrants should be central to the Compact.

A full outline of the event is attached.

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May 2017

Initial Reflections on Implementation, Monitoring and Accountability Mechanisms ahead of a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

QUNO's third paper on the process towards developing a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will focus on mechanisms for implementation, monitoring and accountability in international agreements. Here we publish some initial reflections based on work to date analysing different implementation, monitoring and accountability mechanisms from various UN treaties and agreements. A full paper will follow shortly.

Our interim reflections highlight elements found in other international agreements that we believe can be learnt from in considering how best to build effective implementation, monitoring and accountability mechanisms into the Global Compact on Safe Orderly and Regular Migration. We share them at this stage for consideration ahead of the first thematic consultation towards the Compact, which will take place on 8th and 9th May 2017.

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May 2017

Strengthening the link between Human Rights and Peacebuilding Through the UPR

Since the beginning of 2017, in close collaboration with the Human Rights and Refugees programme and our colleagues at QUNO New York, the Peace and Disarmament programme has been working on a project linking human rights and sustaining peace. The yearlong project aims to strengthen the links between the peacebuilding and human rights communities within the UN and on the ground through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a UN  process that reviews the human rights records of all 193 UN member States in a five-year cycle. The UPR was designed as a mechanism to improve the human rights situation in every country by encouraging and supporting states to effectively implement and protect human rights at every level. To support this process, information from UN agencies and civil society organisations are compiled to provide recommendations to the state under review and background for other states to create recommendations and questions.

For our project, we have chosen six test case countries, each facing particular challenges to differing degrees in human rights, conflict and violence from the Syria in the throes of war to Guatemala facing chronic and destabilising violence. For the upcoming UPR Sessions, we chose to focus on Indonesia and Brazil and we invited two peacebuilding civil society representatives - Ruslan from KOMPAK (Kupang Peacemakers) in Indonesia and Ivan Marques from Sou da Paz in Brazil- to attend briefing sessions for diplomats and off the record meetings organised by QUNO in Geneva. They were able  to discuss their work and explore ways in which the UPR could better support peacebuilding and violence reduction and elimination.

Both organisations produced briefing documents, highlighting their work around peacebuilding and human rights, country specific issues and key recommendations targeted toward their respective countries that can be used for the upcoming UPR Sessions in May.

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May 2017

QUNO co-hosted a side event at the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference

On the opening day of the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference (SB46) in Bonn, QUNO co-hosted a side event titled, ‘A Negotiator's tool kit: Engaging Ministries with effective arguments for urgent climate action’.  The event, co-hosted with DeMontfort University, Newcastle University and the Brahma Kumaris, with our Human Impacts of Climate Change Representative, Lindsey Fielder Cook, who moderated the discussion. 

The aim of the side event was to support negotiators’ work to convince their respective and busy Ministries of the need for urgent action, by offering a wide range of clear and concise arguments for urgent climate action from the perspectives of climate science, peace and security, economics, food security, civil society engagement, human rights, ethics, and seasoned negotiator experience.  

For those who were unable to attend or missed the live stream, the event was recorded. Unfortunately, the sound does not work, however you will still be able to see the PowerPoint presentations used by our speakers. Please follow this link to watch the event.

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April 2017

QUNO Food & Sustainability Programme Attended the ECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development

On April 25, 2017, Food & Sustainability Programme Assistant Nora Meier attended the UNECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD). One day prior to that event, she also followed the preparatory civil society consultation at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, where she was able to connect with organizations from the region.

The RFSD followed up on and reviewed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UNECE region while focusing on practical value-added and peer learning. During the one-day event, states, civil society and the private sector shared policy solutions, best practices and challenges from their experiences in SDG implementation and helped identifying major regional and subregional trends. The meeting also convened three roundtables on national and local adaptation of SDGs; subregional cooperation for SDG implementation; and on data and monitoring.

In light of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) to be taking place in July in New York, QUNO was interested to learn about the progresses made and processes implemented, in particular as they relate to SDGs 1, 2, 3, 13, 15, and 16.  

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April 2017

Civil Society Key Messages for a Human Rights Based Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration must be grounded in international human rights law.

This is the central message of a new paper produced by a group of Geneva-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are interested in a human rights-based response to migration at the UN level. QUNO convenes this group of NGOs, with a particular focus on ensuring a human rights basis to this new international agreement on migration, which is due to be adopted in 2018.

Ahead of the first thematic consultation of this process, taking place in Geneva on 8th and 9th May, this group has produced a set of key human rights messages for the Compact. These are:

  • Ensure the full and active participation of migrants as primary stakeholders, including the participation of civil society organisations and NHRIs working directly with or on behalf of migrant and diaspora populations.
  • Ensure respect for the principle of non-discrimination irrespective of a person’s migration or residency status. Action must be taken to counter xenophobia and prevent hate crimes targeting people on the basis of their migratory or perceived migratory status.   
  • Ensure that migration is not criminalised and prohibit all unlawful or disproportionate border measures.
  • Ensure the human rights of all migrants who are particularly at risk, paying particular attention to migrants with specific needs who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that heighten their vulnerability.
  • Ensure that migratory status is not a bar to access to economic, social and cultural rights, particularly essential services, including healthcare.
  • Develop and implement accessible, regular, fair, and safe migration pathways, facilitating the regularisation of migrants in an irregular
  • Ensure that any returns or removals are carried out in full respect for the human rights of migrants, in safety and dignity, and in accordance with international law.
  • Ensure that protection of the human rights of migrants is recognised as a legal obligation of States, and not only a matter of humanitarian assistance. International standards and national laws and practices must enable judges and lawyers to play their essential role in upholding the rights of migrants and the rule of law.

We hope to see these points, and the centrality of human rights, raised throughout the preparatory process towards the adoption of this agreement.   

Please see the attached for the full document. 

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April 2017

QUNO takes part in a Dialogue and Exchange Program on Somalia Refugees

“During my tenure, I hope to move towards a time where refugee camps are no more”.

Amb. Mohammed Affey, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ Special Envoy for the Refugee situation in Somalia, stated this goal in his opening remarks at the American Friends Service Committee’s Dialogue and Exchange Program (DEP) focusing on Somalia Refugees. QUNO participated in the timely meeting, which took place on April 3rd - 5th, 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting brought civil society, and government, regional body, and UN representatives together to share perspectives on issues surrounding forcibly displaced populations. Through interactive group work sessions, participants explored the implications of voluntary return, local integration, and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced people. During the three days, it was acknowledged that despite the limited resources in the horn of Africa, it’s the region that produces and hosts the most refugees globally.

QUNO’s UN Representative and Program Assistant working on the Prevention of Violent Conflict Program, Rachel Madenyika and Hafsa Maalim, participated in the DEP, including through leading on the reporting of group session outcomes to the plenary. QUNO staff shared perspectives on actions that could be taken by asylum and host countries to ensure protection of refugees, as well as reported on the challenges facing local integration efforts for refugee populations. QUNO staff also highlighted potential entry points to overcome such challenges, including the development of trauma healing and reconciliation programs that can bring communities together.

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April 2017

6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty: new publication and website

The Quaker United Nations Office works on children of parents sentenced to death or executed first and foremost because we believe that such children should not be forgotten and their rights should be upheld.  The 2016 World Congress Against the Death Penalty recognized that the impact of a death sentence on the children of parents sentenced to death or executed represents a powerful argument against the death penalty.

This was the message QUNO brought to last year’s World Congress Against the Death Penalty, the details of which have been brought together in a new publication and website. The 6th The Congress was held in Oslo in June 2016 and was attended by QUNO’s Human Rights and Refugees team. The Congress, convened by Ensemble contre la peine de mort (ECPM), is held every three years to bring together those working towards the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.

The new report and website feature an article written by QUNO’s Laurel Townhead, highlighting the significant and often devastating impacts on children whose parents are sentenced to death or executed, and explaining why this can be a used as a strong argument for abolition. QUNO also wrote a briefing paper on children of parents sentenced to death or executed ahead of the event, which provides more detail on this issue.

QUNO continues to work to raise the profile of children of parents facing the death penalty at the international level. In particular, our written statement to the 34th session of the Human Rights Council held in March this year examines how children of parents sentenced to death or executed may be considered victims of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. We also look forward to participating in the next World Congress, due to take place in 2019.

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April 2017

Expectations for a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration: New paper

QUNO is closely following the process for negotiating a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This process part of the UN’s response to the large numbers of people on the move around the world. The Global Compact was mandated by the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, a high-level statement adopted by States on 19th September and is due to be adopted in September 2018.

Following the adoption on 6 April of General Assembly resolution 71/280 on the modalities for developing a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, QUNO has prepared a short paper on expectations of the process.  This contains the steps which we believe are needed to support the adoption of a human rights based Global Compact (as called for in the New York Declaration and the modalities resolution). 

QUNO’s previous paper on the Compact, on input to the modalities resolution, is here.

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March 2017

QUNO deliveres statement on climate change and child rights at the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council

QUNO climate change programme delivered an oral statement at the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council during the Panel Discussion on Climate Change and the Rights of the Child. QUNO welcomed this panel discussion, for at its heart, climate change is an intergenerational justice concern.

Our statement referred to the root causes of climate change caused by human activities. We briefly described how current rates of temperature rise and species extinction, as well as the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are unprecedented in our human history.  Drawing on elements from other QUNO programmes, and we highlighted the interconnection between climate change and human rights as well as peace, noting that rising temperatures have serious repercussions on sustaining peace.

However, our message was not to create fear, but rather hope and empowerment.  We emphasised that with urgent and fair climate action, catastrophic global temperature rise does not have to happen.  We reiterated the work of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, in particular, the critical role of a rights-based approaches in climate action to establish more coherent, legitimate, and sustainable climate policies. 

The oral statement, delivered by Cassandra Moll, Peacebuilding and Climate Change Programme Assistant, can be found at 1:32:50 on the video of the panel.

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