Timeline

August 2016

QUNO attends 32nd session of the Human Rights Council

From 13 June to 1 July, QUNO representatives attended the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council taking place in Geneva.

During the session, QUNO followed the negotiation of resolutions on a number of thematic issues, including the right to a nationality, the human rights of migrants and human rights and climate change.

Programme Assistant Daniel Cullen delivered two oral statements at the session: the first on the Nelson Mandela Rules (see this link at chapter 76 for video) in the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Health, and the second on the rights of children of incarcerated parents (see this link at chapter 36 for video) in the Item 3 General Debate.

On 29 June, Representative Laurel Townhead spoke on a panel at a side event on the human rights of refugees and migrants, which QUNO co-organised with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the International Detention Coalition (IDC) and others.

On the same day, Zaina Kisongoa, Country Representative for Somalia with American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) spoke on a panel a separate side event on the role of economic, social and cultural rights in the prevention of conflict, co-organised by QUNO, OHCHR and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).

QUNO also co-sponsored a third side event, organised by Penal Reform International (PRI) along with the Permanent Missions of Canada and Denmark, on the human rights of women in conflict with the law, which took place on 15 June.

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August 2016

QUNO attends World Congress against the Death Penalty

From 22-23 June, QUNO Geneva representatives attended the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty, hosted in Oslo, Norway.

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.

This year’s Congress was attended by around 1300 participants from over 80 countries, including government ministers, parliamentarians, academics, lawyers and members of civil society.

On 23 June, QUNO organised a side event at the conference, drawing attention to the wider impacts of the death penalty on children of parents sentenced to death or executed.

Representative Laurel Townhead spoke on the panel at the event, along with Programme Assistant Daniel Cullen and Zaved Mahmood of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

For more information on issues affecting children of parents sentenced to death or executed, and the international standards in this area, please see the below QUNO briefing paper prepared for the Congress.

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August 2016

Read QUNO's latest Geneva Reporter newsletter

QUNO's August 2016 issue of the Geneva Reporter newsletter is now available online. The latest issue features: an update on recent developments on the issue of nuclear disarmament at the international level, an introduction to our work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to communicate climate science in simpler, more ethical language, and our Human Rights & Refugees programme details their work on children of parents sentenced to death or executed. 

 The full publication is available below.

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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 hosts ECOWAS Ambassador to the UN

QUNO facilitated a conversation at Quaker House in New York for Ambassador Leon Tanou Kone, the Permanent Observer of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with member states and UN staff. Ambassador Kone gave a useful update on the security, climate change and migration issues in West Africa. In light of recent discussions on the need for greater collaboration between the UN and regional organisations, this meeting was an opportunity for the UN community to act upon this recommendation through an informal, in-depth dialogue with the ECOWAS Ambassador. 

This meeting was the second in a series of meetings taking place at Quaker House that bring UN actors and African regional and sub-regional organisations together to discuss issues of shared concern, including around the prevention of violent conflict. 

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June 2016

Building On Sydney Bailey's Security Council Procedure Legacy

Former QUNO Director Sydney Bailey (1916 - 1995) wrote extensively on the United Nations and peacemaking. Of particular importance was his work on three editions of "The Procedure of the UN Security Council" which has been a primary reference for diplomats since the first edition was published in 1975.

On June 27th, QUNO New York was delighted to host a meeting of the NGO Working Group on the Security Council with Loraine Sievers, former Chief of the UN Security Council Secretariat Branch and one of the authors of the recently published Fourth Edition of the "Procedure", (along with Sam Daws who worked on the third edition with Sydney). The new edition is now kept up to date through new articles on a dedicated website.

The meeting drew strong interest from NGOs, and the discussion ranged from examining the process around appointing a new Secretary General to considering the various forms of engagement that civil society can have with council members.

It was heartening to see that Sydney Bailey's pioneering work lives on.

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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 contributes to PBC annual session

QUNO New York Director Andrew Tomlinson was one of a small number of civil society representatives who took part in the third annual session of the UN's Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). The focus of this year's annual session was Transitions as a challenge to consolidating peace and security: The role of the PBC in diplomacy and political accompaniment. QUNO made interventions in both of the interactive working sessions, which have been compiled in a document entitled Transitions, Inclusion and Opportunities in the new UN Peacebuilding Landscape.

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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

Five Quaker organisations from Europe and the United States have asked governments to say ‘no’ to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the controversial ‘mega’ trade deal being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.  

It is the first time that Quaker organisations, working on both sides of the Atlantic, have spoken out together against such a trade treaty.

American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Quaker Council for European Affairs, Quaker United Nations Office and Quaker Peace & Social Witness, have sent a statement to Prime Minister David Cameron, government representatives and trade officials. They said that TTIP negotiations are prioritising the prospect of short-term economic gain over the longer-term factors necessary to human wellbeing and protection of the Earth.

The statement comes in the context of building opposition to TTIP, as controversial, confidential negotiation documents were leaked into the public domain and the French government has warned that it is considering blocking the deal.

TTIP is set to include a so-called Investor to State Dispute Settlement mechanism or Investment Court System, under which foreign companies could sue governments for introducing social, environmental, health or other legislation believed to threaten profitability.  The Quakers assert that these mechanisms hand too much power to large companies, making them “fundamentally antidemocratic in nature and therefore unacceptable”.

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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June 2016

In & Around the UN: New Newsletter from our New York office

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

QUNO and International Treaty host consultation on Farmers' Rights

In conjunction with the secretariat of the International Treaty (ITPGRFA), QUNO hosted a small, focused consultation examining progress and challenges in domestic implementation of Article 9 - the section on Farmers' Rights.

Acknowledging the enormous contribution of farmers and local or indigenous communities to the development and maintenance of crop diversity, Article 9 recommends that countries take a number of measures to ensure this continues:

·         Protection of traditional knowledge

·         Equitable participation in sharing benefits of plant genetic resources' utilisation

·         Participation in decision making

·         Farmers' right to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed (subject to national law and as appropriate).

The consultation, held on May 28th at Quaker House Geneva, brought together representatives from state delegations, research institutions and civil society for a half day of rich discussion and experience-sharing. An outcome document is currently being prepared, to feed into the Global Consultation on Farmers' Rights being held in September in Bali, Indonesia.

Photo credit: IITA/Flickr

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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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