Timeline

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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April 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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April 2017

QUNO is accepting applications for two 2017-18 Programme Assistant positions

Our Geneva office is now hiring two Programme Assistants (PAs) for September 2017 to August 2018.

This is an opportunity for those in sympathy with Quaker approaches and with an interest in international affairs and in international organizations. You would experience a range of international work, while working primarily as an assistant to QUNO's Representatives in their work on​ Human Rights & Refugees, and Climate Change and Peace.

For more information on the two PA positions, visit our PA page and download the complete job descriptions and application forms below. The deadline for applications is 1 May. Carefully read through the application instructions in the respective job descriptions and send your completed application form to the following email addresses:

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March 2017

QUNO Human Impacts on Climate Change (HICC) programme delivered an oral statement at the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council

QUNO Human Impacts on Climate Change (HICC) 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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March 2017

Linking Peacebuilding and Human Rights: QUNO Delivers Oral Statement at the High-Level Mainstreaming Panel

For the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council, QUNO was welcomed the focus of the High-Level Mainstreaming Panel on the “The contribution of human rights to peacebuilding through enhancing dialogue and international cooperation for the promotion of human rights”. QUNO has longstanding programmes on both Peace and Disarmament and Human Rights and Refugees with relation to the UN and has been working for several years, in collaboration with our colleagues in New York, specifically to promote and strengthen the link between human rights, peacebuilding, and sustaining peace.

In light of the panel’s focus on peacebuilding and human rights, the Peace and Disarmament programme submitted a written statement and made an oral statement. Both statements, provided several recommendations to address the fragmentation in the UN system to improve the work on effective prevention of both human rights violations and destructive conflict, with our core message addressing the importance of better collaboration between the human rights and peacebuilding communities, to support long-term sustainable peace.

Our statements, highlighted recent progress in the UN, as the term sustaining peace was used in the parallel Security Council and General Assembly resolutions on the review of the UN peacebuilding Architecture. The resolutions emphasise the importance of addressing root causes of destructive conflict and recognises that the peacebuilding process occurs through all stages of the conflict cycle (before, during and after), which need to be continually supported for sustainable peace.

The oral statement, delivered by Diane Hendrick, Peace and Disarmament Representative at the Mainstreaming Panel, can be found at 1:49:30 on the video of the panel.

The written statement can be found below.

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March 2017

QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Releases Three New Publications

Programme Representative Susan H. Bragdon authored three new publications, which were published in March 2017 and are now available online as well as in hard copy.

Are Small-scale Farmers at the Table? Reflections on Small-scale Farmers’ Participation in Global and National Decision-Making provides background and perspective on small-scale farmer representation in international discussions related to food and nutrition security, innovation, climate change, human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals; and makes six recommendations for how multilateral institutions that host negotiations or dialogues can encourage and facilitate the participation of small-scale farmers.

The Foundations of Food Security – Ensuring Support to Small-scale Farmers Managing Agricultural Biodiversity argues that the access and benefit-sharing (ABS) agreements established by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the Convention on Biological Diversity, or the Nagoya Protocol are, and will continue to be, insufficient for generating the benefit necessary to support the innovative activities of small-scale farmers in conserving, managing, and actively developing the majority of the world’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. 

The Evolution of Rights and Responsibilities over Agricultural Biodiversity explores the concerns driving relevant international instruments with the goal of increasing the understanding needed to achieve coherence and mutual support. The paper concludes with suggestions on how to create a system that supports the critical role that agricultural biodiversity plays in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 

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March 2017

The Time is Ripe for Governments to Strengthen Sustainable and Food-Secure Farming

In November 2016, QUNO hosted an expert consultation on the role of the public sector in supporting small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity. Over 15 participants from around the world, representing a variety of professional backgrounds, convened to discuss how best to assist governments in determining their roles in ensuring food security and to develop tools for the public sector to create national food policies with small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity at their center. 

One of the outputs of this consultation is The Time is Ripe for Governments to Strengthen Sustainable and Food-Secure Farming, a call-to-action for the international community to mobilize resources for a more proactive role of the public sector in supporting small-scale farmers, their seed systems and the protection of agricultural biodiversity. Furthermore, the paper calls upon national governments to engage in consultation with small-scale farmers to identify what they require in order to effectively engage in activities to support the conversation and sustainable use of biodiversity and to achieve secure livelihoods.

QUNO would like to thank all the participants for their valuable contributions in making this collaborative effort possible. 

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March 2017

QUNO Submits Written Input to the Berlin Charter on Rural Development and Food Security

In March, QUNO submitted a written contribution to The Berlin Charter on rural development and food security that emphasized the importance of small-scale farmers as an agent of change. Support for small-scall farmers is particularly important in the context of rural development and the need to make rural life and the activities of small-scale farmers an attractive option to youth. The Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) invited an international group of high-level experts to develop the The Berlin Charter, which will be presented as an input to the BMZ International Conference on Rural Development entitled One Hunger, Future of the Rural World. This conference will be held in Berlin on April 27-28, 2017.

The Berlin Charter highlights major global trends, challenges and in particular arising opportunities for rural areas. Its aim is to portray a modern and innovation-driven development vision of the rural world, closing with a call for action to the international development community. The Charter is intended to motivate decision-makers to step up to support rural development. More broadly, the Charter is supposed to serve as a roadmap and an inspiration and finally as a reminder of how important rural development is for achieving sustainable global development.

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March 2017

QUNO Submits Written Input to Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food in Humanitarian Contexts

In March 2017, QUNO attended an informal discussion on the Right to Food in humanitarian contexts organized by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Ms. Hilal Elver. Our Food & Sustainability and Peace and Disarmament programmes submitted a joint statement emphasizing the importance of agricultural biodiversity, small-scale farmers, and informal seed systems in humanitarian contexts. QUNO highlighted that resilience is central to any sustained response to food insecurity in crises or crises-prone situations and small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity are central to resilience. Therefore, thoughtful and targeted rehabilitation is necessary to build and consolidate peace while contributing to food security and rural development after a humanitarian crisis has subsided. The full statement is available below.

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March 2017

Prevention and Mediation: Towards More Effective Collaborative Approaches and Strategies for Sustaining Peace

On March 28th, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform hosted a meeting entitled "Prevention and Mediation: Towards More Effective Collaborative Approaches and Strategies for Sustaining Peace." This meeting was in collaboration with the Mediation Support Network, a global network of twenty-one non-governmental organizations that support mediation in peace negotiations.

QUNO co-facilitates the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform, which aims to support the UN’s prevention agenda by strengthening coordination and information sharing between civil society and the UN. This meeting provided the Platform with an opportunity to use its diverse network to better inform the conversation on harnessing the synergies between prevention and mediation.   

The Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform brought together UN actors, civil society organizations, and member states to discuss concrete examples of how civil society actors are promoting mediation and prevention practices and processes in addressing political tensions and armed conflict.

To open the discussion, a few members of the Mediation Support Network shared their experiences using examples from Colombia, Myanmar and Mexico. The participants highlighted the role of civil society in armed conflict and the important role they play in bridging UN actors and the local people. The use of mediation as an early warning tool was echoed in several presentations. One of the major challenges highlighted was that it was difficult for societies to transition into peace if they are not used to living in peace. Therefore, due to the ever-changing nature of conflict, the participants agreed that innovative measures of mediation are more important than ever. 

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March 2017

QUNO and the Centre for International Cooperation Cohost a Discussion on the 'Roadmap for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies'

On 15 March, QUNO and the Center for International Cooperation (CIC) of New York University cohosted a meeting at Quaker House where CIC presented a discussion paper: Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies: A Call to Action to Change our World. The meeting encouraged an in-depth discussion of the paper’s proposals and their overall expected impact, and participants shared their insights and expertise with the authors.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declares, “there can be no sustainable development without peace, and no peace without sustainable development.” While SDG 16 seeks to “foster peaceful, just, and inclusive societies,” there are strong links and connections across many of the Agenda’s goals that, together, contribute towards the promotion of peace, justice, and inclusivity. The linkages between these different goals have often become referred to as “SDG16+.” The interconnected and universal nature of the SDGs was a key point made by Mr. Andrew Tomlinson, UN Representative and QUNO Director, who facilitated the meeting’s discussion. Mr. Tomlinson also reflected on how moving the 2030 Agenda forward, particularly SDG16+, has the potential to be transformative for global affairs, and have the most far reaching impact across people’s lives throughout the world.

Participants discussed how the paper aims to provide a starting point for a roadmap to achieve the 2030 Agenda’s “peaceful, just and inclusive societies” mandate, which seeks to turn the ambition of the SDG16+ targets into reality. During the meeting, Mr. David Steven of CIC provided an overview of why a roadmap is needed and what impact it can deliver, setting out several recommendations for its structure and content. This roadmap process is being led by The Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a group of UN member states, international organizations, and other partners, convened by the governments of Brazil, Sierra Leone and Switzerland, in cooperation with CIC.

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March 2017

QUNO Food & Sustainability Programme Delivers Oral Statement at Human Rights Council

The Clustered Interactive Dialogue (ID) on Sustainable Environment and on the Right to Food was held at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council. During the event, both the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, Mr. John Knox, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Ms. Hilal Elver, presented their findings.

In an oral statement, delivered by Nora Meier, Programme Assistant for Food & Sustainability at the Interactive Dialogue, we commended Mr. Knox for his report and thanked him for recognizing the explicit connection between agricultural biodiversity and global food and nutrition security and the ability to adapt to climate change and other abiotic and biotic stressors. Furthermore, we highlighted that industrial agriculture is the largest driver of biodiversity loss and causing harm to the health of people and our planet. We ended our oral statement by asking Mr. Knox: “What action should States take separately and jointly to support the role of small-scale farmers in managing agricultural biodiversity in order to mitigate and prevent the negative impact on enjoyment of human rights arising from loss of biodiversity?”

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March 2017

A focus on the human rights of migrants at the Human Rights Council's 34th Session

The 34th Session of the Human Rights Council concluded on 24th March. During the session there were some important discussions and decisions relating to the human rights of migrants, an issue we are working on closely. 

On 10th March the Human Rights Council held an Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the human rights of migrants in the context of large movements. This was the first time that the Council held a discussion dedicated to migrants’ human rights after the September 2016 adoption of the New York Declaration on refugees and migrants, and its initiation of the development of a Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration. The Declaration – a high level political statement, and the Global Compact - a proposed new State-negotiated international framework - represent important shifts in how the international community addresses human mobility and displacement. As such, the Human Rights Council’s discussion came at an important time, giving it an opportunity to speak to the role of human rights within this new international agenda.

Peggy Hicks, Director of the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division of the Office of the High Commissioner, stated during the discussion:

'The international community has an unprecedented opportunity in the next two years to... learn from the experience of migrants, and to build a Global Compact that provides safe, rights respecting migration, and to ensure that future generations are spared the hell of desperate, precarious journeys.' 

QUNO followed this discussion closely, and we co-signed a joint oral statement that was delivered during the debate (attached). Our current priority is for the Council to play its part in making sure that the Global Compact is people-centred and underpinned by and consistent with international human rights law.

We also prepared a Briefing for Friends that examines these UN initiatives in more detail. It further describes how we are actively engaged in this work, as well as ways that Friends around the world can engage with, and benefit from these UN level initiatives.  

Laurel Townhead, Representative for Human Rights and Refugees delivered two statements for QUNO related to the human rights of migrants during the session. 

1. The first statement welcomed a set of Principles and Guidelines on the human rights protection of migrants in vulnerable situations and within large and/or mixed movements, developed by the Global Migration Group, and called on States to endorse them. See here for the video of the statement (number 59 on right hand panel).

2. The second statement called for a human rights basis to the Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration, with a particular focus on the importance of the role of existing UN human rights mechanisms in its development. See here for the video of the statement (number 25 on right hand panel).

QUNO was also pleased that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants was renewed in a resolution at this session. Finally, we further welcome the decision of the Mexican mission to run a substantive resolution on the human rights of migrants in the June session of the Human Rights Council.

Looking ahead, we encourage sustained attention to this issue by the UN human rights mechanisms, particularly in light of the upcoming consultations for the Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migration.

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March 2017

QUNO at the Human Rights Council: a focus on children of parents facing the death penalty as victims of torture

On 1st March 2017, the annual High Level Panel on the question of the death penalty was held at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council. This year’s panel focussed on how the death penalty relates to torture.

During the panel, Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment highlighted the impact of the death penalty on children:

The death penalty is… first of all, in my view, a question of life and how we define ourselves as human beings, as States and as an international community. Do we really want to retain a retributive system, deliberately inflicting pain and anguish on convicts, on their parents, on their spouses, on their children?... Or do we prefer to define ourselves on different terms, focusing not only on the inherent dignity of convicts, victims and families but also on the dignity and moral authority of our human society as a whole? ”

In light of the panel’s focus on torture, we submitted a written and oral statement at this session of the Council, highlighting that the sentencing to death or execution of a parent leads to a violation of the child’s right to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (CIDT) or torture under international law. 

The written statement can be found here.

The oral statement, delivered by Catherine Baker, Programme Assistant for Human Rights and Refugees at the High Level Panel, can be found at 2.09.45 on the video of the panel.

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March 2017

QUNO Review March 2017 now available

Our new, March 2017 edition of the QUNO Review is now available for download. The publication provides a brief introduction to QUNO and our way of working, as well as an overview of each of our programme areas. Learn more about our past year of our work and see where we are headed in 2017.

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February 2017

QUNO Attends 33rd IGC on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at WIPO

In February 2017, QUNO attended the opening of the 33rd session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. While the last two sessions were concerned with Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge respectively, this week’s meeting will focus on Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCEs). In particular, the member states will be debating the development of an international legal framework to protect TCEs and will intend to narrow existing gaps and reach common understanding on core issues. This includes the continuing negotiations around policy objectives, beneficiaries, scope of protection, administration of rights, and exceptions and limitations.  

QUNO welcomes the opportunity to be part of this session and will continue to monitor the progress of the negotiations this week. It supports the statements made by the Chair and the Indigenous Caucus, which called on member states to contribute to the Voluntary Fund, which depends on voluntary contributions of member states, has been depleted since 2014. Therefore, the IGC has not been able to provide direct funding for representatives of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities to participate in the IGC sessions.

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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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