Timeline

February 2017

Chinese Perspectives on Africa's Peace and Security Challenges: Views from the Field

QUNO, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) convened a two-day workshop in New York that provided a forum for academics from various Chinese institutions to share their research and perspectives on peace and security issues in Africa with a broad policy audience. With support from a joint SSRC-AFSC pilot fellowship program, six Chinese PhD scholars completed research in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Zimbabwe and at the African Union where they looked at China’s engagement in UN peace operations, regional partnerships, and the role of China’s commercial interests in sustaining peace. In addition to co-sponsoring the workshop, QUNO’s UN Representative for the Prevention of Violent Conflict, Rachel Madenyika, participated as a discussant, sharing her reflections on the role of business in prevention and sustaining peace.

China continues to rapidly increase its participation in UN peace operations, and is becoming more involved in supporting peace operations and peacebuilding efforts in conflict affected countries and regions, especially in Africa. During the workshop, participants reflected on how in China there is an increasing focus on the importance of investing in development projects as a way to foster peace and address root causes of conflict. Chinese development actors and investors moving these projects forward face challenges with identifying and understanding the drivers and root causes of conflict. 

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February 2017

QUNO contributed to GAFSP Monitoring and Evaluation Plan

On February 17, 2017, QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Programme was asked to contribute to the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) document, which is intended to serve as a reference to all Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) stakeholders. The updated plan will guide all new projects in the GAFSP portfolio going forward: on what is required at each stage of the project cycle, including applying and reporting against the GAFSP indicators. GAFSP emphasizes the role of monitoring and evaluation and learning on their website (see link below). Their M&E Plan reflects the strong results-oriented nature of GAFSP fund.

QUNO commends GAFSP for its transparency in seeking input from a wide range of interested parties at this early stage in developing its plan. In her written contribution submitted to the Working Group, Programme Representative Susan H. Bragdon voiced concern with “using [crop] yields as an indicator with no modifier […].”   Industrial agriculture may have increased the yield of some crops but this has come with high environmental costs. Susan therefore suggested “if increase in yields is an indicator, it needs to be yield per units of water and energy and environmental externalities” […], such as Greenhouse Gas emissions, soil erosion, and biodiversity loss. Furthermore, Susan emphasized the importance of including “impact on diversity grown and consumed […]” Susan noted this is of particular importance in light of dietary simplification being a cause of ‘hidden hunger’ and the nutrition transition that underpins obesity. Throughout the M&E report, Susan also highlighted the need to explicitly include agricultural biodiversity, in-situ and on-farm, as being critical to the long-term sustainability of any intervention for food and nutrition security.

QUNO is looking forward to the publication of the finalized report and welcomed the opportunity to contribute. 

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February 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.

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February 2017

A briefing for diplomats on Human Rights and Peacebuilding

The Geneva Peacebuilding Platform held a briefing for diplomats on Human Rights and Peacebuilding on 15th February, which QUNO organised, moderated and presented. This briefing drew on the work QUNO has been doing on human rights, peacebuilding and sustaining peace through our Peace and Disarmament and Human Rights and Refugees Programmes, and in close collaboration with our colleagues at QUNO  New York.  The briefing session aimed to provide useful background to diplomats ahead of the Mainstreaming Panel on the contribution of human rights to peacebuilding at the Human Rights Council on 27 February.

During the briefing session, Diane Hendrick and the other panelists illustrated areas in which human rights interacted with peacebuilding processes and approaches, and how human rights can be mainstreamed throughout the peacebuilding work of the UN system, including on the ground. A key aim was to present the concept of “sustaining peace” in which peacebuilding is understood as a process that takes place (and needs to be supported) before during and after conflict, as reflected in recent UN resolutions on the UN peacebuilding architecture. QUNO underlined that economic, social, and cultural rights are integral to addressing the root causes of destructive conflict.

For further information please refer below to our Handout on Human Rights and International Peace and Security.

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February 2017

QUNO contributes to CFS report on "Multistakeholder Partnerships"

During the 43rd Plenary Session in October 2016, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested that the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) produce a report on “Multistakeholder Partnerships to Finance and Improve Food Security and Nutrition in the Framework of the 2030 Agenda”. This report will be presented at the CFS 45 Plenary session in October 2018.

Before the report’s publication in the coming year, the expert panel has launched an ‘e-consultation’ process to gather views and comments on eight questions built around the scope and building blocks of the report, as proposed by the HLPE Steering Committee.

QUNO appreciates the opportunity to participate in the e-consultation and commented on the questions related to Multistakeholder Partnerships and the respective roles and responsibilities of public and private stakeholders and civil society in such partnerships and the questions relating to stakeholders and farmers’ participation.  

In particular, Programme Representative Susan Bragdon and Programme Assistant Nora Meier cautioned the HLPE to further study Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the area of food security before advocating for their use. While QUNO is emphasizing that “the issue is not pro-private sector and anti-public sector or vice versa,” it states that “it is about the appropriate roles and boundaries of each.” Therefore, first and foremost, there is a need for a better understanding of the role of the public sector, in particular as a provider of goods and services in food security as well as the role of the private sector in providing food security. In its statement, QUNO also asked to see “a reflection that governments play a critical, unique role in sustainable, national food systems and need to have both the space and capacity to act in the public interest.”

Furthermore, QUNO voiced their concern about the use of the term ‘stakeholder’ and the need to make sure that clear and rigorous definitions are understood and applied. In particular, “not every stakeholder has an equal stake” – for a small-scale farmer, decisions can be life and death, while for a corporation or company the “stake” may be in profits accrued or lost. 

Finally, QUNO commented on the need for farmer participation and stated that “we would therefore like the HPLE to consider the need to more experimentation, experience and information sharing on the practicalities of how to secure the input of highly diverse farmer groups, and in particular small-scale farmers.”

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February 2017

New Collaborative Project ‘Developing New Insights into Peacebuilding’

QUNO will be undertaking a project collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and Lancaster University Law School. The project titled ‘Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) and Sustaining Peace - Developing New Insights into Peacebuilding’ is partially funded by Lancaster University Faculty of Social Science and Lancaster University Law School and will run until July 2017.

This impact and knowledge exchange project aims to enhance knowledge and understanding of the role of economic, social and cultural rights (ECSRs) in sustaining peace. The idea is to exchange knowledge and share practices and experiences of the use of such rights within the peacebuilding and human rights communities and across disciplines to develop innovative practice. Two knowledge exchange workshops will be held the first in Geneva in February 2017 and the second in Lancaster in July 2017. 

More information can be found on the project’s website.

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February 2017

QUNO contributes to a new World Report on Statelessness

QUNO’s Representative for Human Rights and Refugees, Laurel Townhead, has written an article on childhood statelessness of children of prisoners, for a new World Report on Statelessness.

The World Report on Statelessness, launched by the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, is the most comprehensive resource on the global situation of stateless people. The second World Statelessness Report (2017) has a specific focus on children, exploring the urgency of and opportunities for addressing childhood statelessness. QUNO’s article focusses on the risks of childhood statelessness for children of prisoners, particularly for children born to foreign national women in prison.

For more information about the report and about statelessness around the world, see the two report websites: http://worldsstateless.org/ and http://children.worldsstateless.org/.

The full report can be accessed here (the article can be found on page 385). 

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February 2017

Building trust at climate talks

Faith and science communities met on the 30th and 31st January, as Quakers set out to build communication and support between them. Quakers in Britain and QUNO held two interfaith luncheons on these days with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Quakers are motivated by a moral duty to cherish Creation for future generations and to speak out against climate injustice that causes huge inequalities across the world.  They have a long history of quiet diplomacy work with diverse groups to encourage in-depth discussion in which understanding may grow. These meetings at Friends House in London were informal and off-the-record.

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain said: “We are aware that humanity has a short window of time to help ensure against catastrophic climate change. We observe that current political will is not sufficient to address the root causes of climate change caused by human activities, effectively, urgently and fairly. However, we have faith that change is possible.”

QUNO has observer status at both the IPCC and the climate negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Jonathan Woolley, QUNO Geneva Director, said, “While technical fixes may address some symptoms, they may not address human behaviours at the root cause of climate change, behaviours often exacerbated by economic and political priorities. Faith communities offer an empowering voice of hope over fear, of compassion over indifference, and urgent and fair action as a moral obligation.”

For further perspective, one participant has written a blog post about her experience.

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February 2017

New briefing for Friends on opportunities and challenges for the protection of refugees and migrants at the UN level

We are pleased to launch a new briefing paper for Friends: ‘Protecting refugees and migrants under the New York Declaration: challenges and opportunities at the UN level.’

On September 19th 2016, the UN set a new agenda under the ‘New York Declaration’ for responding to large movements of people crossing borders. Our briefing aims to inform Friends about the Declaration and the developments it initiates for improving global governance on refugees and migrants. It also describes how QUNO is engaging in these opportunities, as well as ways that Quakers around the world can link up with, and benefit from, UN level initiatives.

This weekend, we are sharing this briefing at the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network (QARN) conference on forced migration. The QARN conference, at Woodbrooke Study Centre in Birmingham, UK aims to connect Friends in the UK interested in responding to forced migration issues. Our briefing and our workshop at the conference aims to connect our UN work and the opportunities it presents to local initiatives amongst Quakers in the UK. 

Photo: contributing to the tree of current actions Friends are taking on refugee and migrant issues.

 

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January 2017

Sustaining Peace and the 2030 Agenda: Opportunities for Prevention

On the occasion of the High Level Debate, “Building Sustainable Peace for All”, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform held an informal, off the record lunch discussion on “Sustaining Peace and the 2030 Agenda: Opportunities for Prevention” to further explore avenues for strengthening prevention at the UN through leveraging synergies between Sustaining Peace and the 2030 Agenda. The meeting sought to identify what opportunities exist for promoting civil society-UN cooperation, and how to ensure that such efforts can have a direct impact on the populations in focus. The conversation brought together CSO perspectives and experiences on the ground, UN actors and Member States. 

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January 2017

QUNO moderated a panel event on the rights of children of incarcerated parents

QUNO organized a panel event, "The Rights of Children of Incarcerated Parents: Replicating good practice from Italy," that took place at the UN on 1 February 2017. The event was hosted by the Permanent Missions to the UN of Italy and Argentina, and the Child Rights Connect Working Group on Children of Incarcerated Parents. 

The Italian NGO Bambinisenzasbarre signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Justice and the National Ombudswoman for Childhood and Adolescence, aimed at the fulfilment of the rights of children of incarcerated parents throughout the country. Steps are being taken to replicate this good practice in other countries. The event highlighted how this Memorandum and the partnership behind it work in practice, how this is being replicated in Argentina and lessons for replication in other States seeking to protect the rights of these children. 

Further information is available in the invitation flyer below.

 

 

 

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January 2017

QUNO attends Global Donor Platform for Rural Development in Brussels

QUNO’s Food and Sustainability (F&S) programme representative Susan H. Bragdon attended the AGA this year to discuss the Agenda 2030 and how the new framework of global development priorities can be supported to achieve food and nutrition security for all.

Today, half the world’s food is produced by 1.5 billion small-scale farmers. However, while small-scale farmers contribute so much to global food security, they are often poor or very poor, and food insecure themselves. Of the hundreds of millions that go hungry daily (almost 1 billion), millions are rural, poor small-scale farmers. Decline in small-scale farmer livelihoods has increased rural-urban migration rates, as 54 percent of the world population now lives in urban areas, which is reducing food production and eroding food security (UNDESA, 2014).

QUNO therefore appreciated the opportunity to participate in the AGA, in particular in the discussions around the role of agriculture considering the new SDGs and the challenges of climate change as they relate to food security, small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity. 

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January 2017

QUNO Attended 16th Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Rome 30 January – 3 February 2017

QUNO’s Food and Sustainability (F&S) programme representative Susan H. Bragdon attended the 16th regular session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture at the FAO headquarters in Rome from 30 January to 3 February 2017. She closely followed the session, regional consultations, and side events as well as the one-day special event on the Contribution of Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture to Resilience.

The F&S programme team welcomed the opportunity to attend this event and was encouraged by the cross-sectorial work that has been done as well as by the reports and plans of action on plant genetic resources that have been produced.  

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January 2017

New UN report on conscientious objection to military service – call for inputs

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a call for inputs on the issue of conscientious objection to military service (see attached file).

The compiled information will lead to a new UN report on the topic. The report will provide the most comprehensive outline of the latest developments, standards and remaining challenges relating to conscientious objection to military service. The previous report, from 2012 can be found here

QUNO has been working on this issue for decades and will be contributing to the report. We encourage others to contribute too. 

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December 2016

QUNO Representative interviewed by QuakerSpeak to reflect on Quaker approach on Sustainability

QUNO UN Representative, Rachel Madenyika, had the opportunity to sit down with QuakerSpeak and share her insight on Quaker work on and approaches to sustainability. 

In her interview, Rachel shares that, to her, sustainability centers on simplicity and the quest for lasting peace. She notes that in her capacity as a UN Representative for QUNO she has worked on peace and sustainability issues on different tracks. From this she has found that what makes the Quaker approach to sustainability unique is the ability to not only work in their communities, but also to bridge gaps and work with people from all walks of life.

Watch the whole video here.

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December 2016

Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty

QUNO is closely following and inputting information into a Global Study on Children Deprived of their Liberty.

The Study will shed light on the scale and conditions of children deprived of their liberty, identifying good practices and making recommendations for effective measures to prevent human rights violations against children in detention and reduce the number of children deprived of liberty.

As called for in UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/69/157, the Study will map out, through monitoring and evaluation analysis, how existing international laws and standards are being implemented on the ground. Through comprehensive data collection, it will also provide a consolidation of good practices and the formulation of recommendations, to support the work of States, UN agencies and other stakeholders to more effectively implement international standards. Manfred Nowak has been appointed to lead the Study, overseeing the development of an in-depth, comprehensive global report to be presented to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at its 73rd regular session in 2018.

The Study is relevant to our work on children of prisoners because it will cover all forms of deprivation of children’s liberty, making it an important opportunity to raise awareness of situations where children are detained with an incarcerated parent. At the first meeting between Manfred Nowak and the NGO Panel working on this issue, children detained with incarcerated parents was specifically listed as one of the topics to be included in the Study. It is now important that all civil society actors working on this issue coordinate effectively and contribute the necessary material to ensure that the situation of these children is fully and effectively incorporated into the Study.

All NGOs working on children of incarcerated parents are encouraged to get involved. Here are some ways to participate:

  • Join the NGO panel to be part of the coordinated advocacy campaign around the Study;
  • Send details and links of any of the following to Catherine Baker at the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) (cbaker@quno.ch) for inclusion in the Study and upcoming advocacy work:
  1. Relevant publications and examples of good practice;
  2. Academics working on this issue who should be included on the Study’s Academic Panel;
  3. Details of any relevant events in the next two years related to children detained with their parents.

 

 

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November 2016

Expert Consultation on the Role of Government in Supporting Small-Scale Farmers and Agricultural Biodiversity

On November 6-8, 2016, the QUNO Food and Sustainability Programme hosted an expert consultation on the role of the public sector in supporting small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity at Chateau de Bossey, just outside of Geneva. 15 participants from around the world and representing a variety of professional backgrounds came together to discuss how to best help governments determine their roles in ensuring food security and to develop tools for them to create national food policies with small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity at their core.

While this consultation was only the beginning of a process with the long-term objective of achieving more just and sustainable food systems, the below documents were produced in preparation for the meeting as well as a result of the discussion held throughout. 

 

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November 2016

QUNO participates at the UNDP High Level Seminar on Conflict Prevention, Dialogue and Reconciliation in Africa

QUNO participated in a 3-day seminar in Johannesburg South Africa, on conflict prevention, dialogue and reconciliation in Africa. Hosted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the seminar gathered UN experts, private sector practitioners and civil society actors to provide UNDP leadership at the country level with new thinking and approaches to facilitating conflict prevention efforts, national dialogue and reconciliation mechanisms in Africa.  The Seminar created an opportunity for participants to address the critical questions regarding successes, challenges, opportunities for conflict prevention, dialogue and reconciliation as structures for providing democratic governance, preventing violence and peacebuilding in the continent. QUNO UN Representative on Prevention, Rachel Madenyika presented in a workshop entitled “Who ‘does’ dialogue and where? Exploring the key stakeholders and their approaches.”  The presentation highlighted the importance of linking local, national, regional and global actors in conflict prevention as well as looked at the role of Quakers in reconciliation and dialogue.

QUNO welcomed the opportunity to be part of this High Level event and is looking forward to the outcomes and next steps of this important agenda.

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November 2016

Another Successful meeting by the CSO-UN Prevention Platform

QUNO is a part of the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform, which recently concluded an extensive mapping exercise within the UN system to gain a better understanding of how different UN agencies and departments in New York conceptualize prevention. The mapping exercise included: identifying what prevention tools are available and lacking; pinpointing keys to success or failure; noting how to improve communication between UN Headquarters and the field and foster more coordinated analysis; determining the main obstacles to UN-civil society cooperation and how to overcome fragmentation within the system. As a follow up to the mapping, the Prevention Platform held the first of three meetings in October which looked at the different UN actors' perspectives, approaches, etc. on prevention more broadly. Most recently, the Prevention Platform held its second discussion focusing on 'Civil society perspectives on obstacles and opportunities to better support the UN's work on prevention' at Quaker House. 

The Civil Society UN Prevention Platform aims to support the UN’s prevention agenda through strengthening coordination and information sharing between civil society organizations (CSOs) and the UN at all levels, in particular through close collaboration with the Department of Political Affairs. The platform seeks to identify concrete, practical steps to enhance the UN and CSO's collective capacity to carry out preventive work, through sharing examples of best practices, identifying areas of potential collaboration on thematic issues and country cases, and supporting UN efforts to bridge early warning and early action. The platform considers conflict prevention broadly as encompassing inclusive activities aimed at addressing the root causes of conflict and supporting societies in preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict, at both a structural and an operational level.

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November 2016

QUNO Attends 32nd IGC on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at WIPO

On November 28, 2016, QUNO attended the opening day of the 32nd session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. Some of the issues to be discussed during this week-long meeting will be around the development of an international legal framework to protect traditional knowledge, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions. Member states will continue the negotiations around policy objectives, beneficiaries, scope of protection, rights holders, transparency, incorporation of customary law and complementary measures with the goal of narrowing the existing gaps on core issues.

Prior to today’s session, we also attended the Seminar on Intellectual Property and Traditional Knowledge (November 24-25), during which indigenous peoples and people from local communities from all around the world discussed, among other issues, the importance of the distinction between ‘sacred and secret and narrowly and widely diffused traditional knowledge’. The diverse set of speakers of the seminar included intellectual property attorneys, a member of the Maasai People of Kenya, and a member of the Kichwa/Kayambi Peoples of Ecuador, among others.

QUNO welcomed the opportunity to be part of both events and is looking forward to the outcomes of the sessions. QUNO supports the statements made by the Indigenous Caucus this morning to call on member states to continuously support the existence of the voluntary fund. This fund is essential in ensuring the participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in these negotiations, which in turn speaks for the legitimacy and credibility of the instrument to be developed. 

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