Timeline

human rights & refugees

We work to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights through the United Nations system, with particular reference to the interface between human rights and armed conflicts, and the protection of refugees.
March 2018

QUNO speaks at a side event on 'Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants'

On 2nd March Laurel Townhead, QUNO’s Human Rights and Refugees Representative, spoke on a panel on ‘Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants’ on the margins of the Human Rights Council.  The Panel aimed to highlight the pressing need for the human rights of migrants to be respected in the face of the restrictive environment that is prevalent in many countries with respect to migrants. Full video of the panel event is available below.

The other panelists were Nils Melzer, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders and Pia Oberoi, an advisor on migration and human rights in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Opening remarks were given by Ambassador Zellweger, from the Permanent Mission of Switzerland.

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March 2018

The 2018 QUNO Review is now available online

Our new, March 2018 edition of the QUNO Review is now available for download. The annual report 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 2018.

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March 2018

QUNO is accepting applications for three 2018-19 Programme Assistant positions

Our Geneva office is now hiring three Programme Assistants (PAs) for September 2018 to August 2019.

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, Peace & Disarmament, and the Human Impacts of Climate Change.

For more information on the three PA positions, visit our PA page and download the complete job descriptions and application forms below. The deadline for applications is 18 April. 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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February 2018

Promoting Peacebuilding through the Universal Periodic Review

In February, QUNO New York and QUNO Geneva, in collaboration with UPR Info, hosted a series of discussions on the subject of “Promoting Peacebuilding through the Universal Periodic Review.” These exchanges with the peacebuilding community in New York, come as a natural continuation of discussions in Geneva that aimed to raise awareness around the concept of sustaining peace and its relation to human rights. These discussions have been complemented by work with civil society actors from six case study countries undergoing their review under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in 2017.

The overall desire was to support overcoming the fragmentation within the UN and to promote the value of integrated action between peacebuilding and human rights actors on the ground and in the UN system by using the UPR to explore present practice and untapped potential within a specific Human Rights Council process – as called for both by the twin General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on sustaining peace (2016) as well as the UN Secretary General report on Sustaining Peace (2018). 

QUNO Geneva spoke to some of these points in February during the 37th session of the Human Rights Council High Level Panel on Mainstreaming, which focused on the UPR. To view the webcast (QUNO speaks at 1h56m) – and download the full statement – please click here

The statement emphasized that the cost of continued fragmentation is too high and suggested the following actions to support the UPR in better contributing to peacebuilding and sustaining peace activities of the UN: 
• Inclusion of conflict analysis in the UN Compilation and Stakeholders Compilations as well as National Reports. 
• Use of information prepared in the reports as part of horizon scanning and early warning 
• Making and implementing recommendations that intentionally link technical assistance for the prevention of Human Rights violations that if left unaddressed may lead to escalating grievances or even conflict 
The learning and the recommendations from the discussions and the case studies are yet to be published.

 

Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre

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February 2018

QUNO to speak at a side event on 'Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants' during the 37th Human Rights Council session

QUNO's human rights and refugees representative Laurel Townhead will be a panelist at the a side event entitled 'Protecting the Human Rights of Migrants' on Friday 2nd March at 12.00 - 13.30 in room XXIII of the Palais des Nations in Geneva.  This event will provide an opportunity to discuss how to enhance the human rights of both migrants and those defending the rights of migrants.  Laurel will be focusing on how the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration that is being negotiated in New York this year is the opportunity for States to deliver an international agreement that will indeed protect the human rights of all migrants regardless of status and those that defend the rights of migrants.      

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December 2017

QUNO publishes a 'Briefing for Friends' on the development of the Global Compact on Migration

The New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants was adopted by States in September 2016 and initiated a two-year process to develop two ‘Global Compacts’ aimed at improving States’ response to refugees and migrants.  Our briefing paper provides an update on the development of the Global Compact on Migration over the past year and details how the process is expected to proceed in 2018. QUNO has been working to support the adoption of a Global Compact on Migration that is ambitious, effective and human rights based.  This paper details how QUNO has been working on this issue and how Friends can engage with this process.

The full briefing paper can be found below.

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December 2017

Read QUNO's latest Geneva Reporter newsletter

QUNO's December 2017 issue of the Geneva Reporter newsletter is now available online.

The latest issue features: a brief overview on our recent work on sustaining peace and food security, a introduction to the importance of agricultural biodiversity, developments on the right to conscientious objection to military service, news about our recent climate action publication "A Negotiator's Tookit," and a QUNO Q&A  with 2006 Geneva Summer School participant Tankiso Phori.

The full publication is available below.

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October 2017

QUNO co-hosts a side-event on irregular migration

The OHCHR, IFRC and QUNO together with the governments of Mexico, Switzerland, the Philippines and Portugal held a panel discussion during the last thematic consultation on the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. 

Focusing on the rights that irregular migrants have to essential services such as healthcare, education and housing, the panelists presented examples of initiatives and programmes that have helped irregular migrants fulfill this right in a practical and meaningful way.  These positive examples highlighted how the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration should also be drafted to facilitate greater access to essential services for migrants regardless of their status. 

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September 2017

The New York Declaration: One year later

On 19 and 20 September 2016, UN Member States made important commitments for refugees and migrants through signing the New York Declaration.  Exactly one year on, QUNO’s Laurel Townhead (Human Rights and Refugees Representative) joined other NGO representatives in an open briefing to member states to assess the achievements of the Declaration and the processes underway to deliver on the commitments made. Organised by ICVA, the event focused on how the two global compacts that the Declaration called for can be drafted to produce effective agreements.  

An effective global compact would recognize the existing human rights standards and contain actionable commitments based on these standards and follow up mechanisms that further their implementation. QUNO also delivered a statement with a similar message at the Human Rights Council on Monday 18 September (see below).

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September 2017

One Year Later: The New York Declaration and Leaders’ Summit on Refugees

On 19 and 20 September 2016, UN Member States made important commitments for refugees and migrants.  Exactly a year later, QUNO will join other NGOs in this open briefing to member states, organized by IVCA, to look back on those commitments and analyse the achievements so far and processes underway to deliver on those promises.

The briefing will cover both the global compacts called for in the New York Declaration and QUNO's Laurel Townhead (Human Rights and Refugees Representative) will speak about progress towards an ambitious, effective, human rights based global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration.

Further details for the event can be found below, and further information on QUNO's work on the global compact on migration be found here: http://www.quno.org/areas-of-work/refugees-and-migrants    

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September 2017

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 informal 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.

The full document is attached below.

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August 2017

The global compact for safe orderly and regular migration & the global compact for refugees: Share your experiences

The processes to towards two new international agreements, ‘global compacts’, on refugees and migrants are now well underway and as part of the consultation phases, anyone is welcome to submit written information relevant to with or both of the global compacts.

We are aware that many Friends are involved in activities on these issues, but we do not have the full breadth and depth, so we encourage you to share your experiences of your work with refugees and migrants.

The attached short document explains how you can submit information to the global compacts, and what sort of information would be most useful.

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August 2017

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Sustaining Peace: Developing New Insights into Peacebuilding

A successful and ground-breaking two-day symposium took place at Lancaster University Law School in the UK on 5th and 6th July 2017. This was the second event of a collaborative project between the Quaker UN Office (QUNO), Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and Dr Amanda Cahill-Ripley of Lancaster University Law School, which aims to enhance knowledge and understanding of the role of economic, social and cultural rights (ECSR) in sustaining peace.

Diane Hendrick from QUNO Geneva introduced the event as one of the co-organisers, and Rachel Madenyika, from QUNO New York, made a presentation on Sustaining Peace: a view from the UN in New York. This event built on a previous workshop held in Geneva in February 2017, which brought together academics and representatives of peacebuilding and human rights organisations to identify the intersections between ESCR and peacebuilding in theory, policy, and practice.  The purpose of this symposium was to provide an opportunity for a wider group of academics and practitioners to present their research and experiences in relevant areas, to further enrich the debate and build upon the initial discussions.

The symposium brought together participants from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, international NGOs such as the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, swisspeace, Christian Aid Ireland and International Alert, as well as academics from University of Edinburgh, Madrid, University of Nottingham, University of Manchester, Coventry University Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, An-Najah National University, the Transitional Justice Institute and the University of Ulster, to discuss their academic, practitioner and policy insights on a theme or experiences related to the central topic of “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Sustaining Peace”. 

The event generated a sense of excitement and possibility with specific ideas for enriching planned or existing peacebuilding projects with economic, social and cultural rights elements and the wish to take this work forward drawing in more collaborators from the international and national policy level as well as practitioners and academics with a view to increasing both peacebuilding and human rights approaches in these areas.

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July 2017

QUNO participation at YMG 2017 in Warwick

QUNO was excited to join Friends at Yearly Meeting Gathering (YMG) 2017 in Warwick. YMG is a week-long event held every three years by Quakers in Britain, that brings together Quakers, friends and families for an exciting week of community and movement-building. QUNO was represented at YMG by Lindsey Fielder Cook, Andrew Tomlinson, Laurel Townhead and Jonathan Woolley, and participated in four workshops, as well as both nights of the Groups Fair. 

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July 2017

Call for inputs to UN report on human rights of migrants

At the Human Rights Council in June, a resolution was passed mandating a new report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights related to the human rights of migrants. 

The report will be an important input to the developing a global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration, particularly to ensure that this new international agreement on migration is human rights based.

Information to this 'compendium of principles, good practices and policies on safe, orderly and regular migration in line with international human rights law' can be sent by any interested stakeholder.

Send all information by 24 July 2017 to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Further details are in the note verbale attached.

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June 2017

Key updates on migration issues

June saw several activities around the UN on the topic of international migration, including at the Human Rights Council’s 35th session and during the consultation phase for the ‘global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration.’

 

Human Rights Council

At the 35th session of the Human Rights Council, two resolutions were passed related to migration. Firstly, we welcome the Mexican-led resolution, ‘Protection of the human rights of migrants: the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration’. Whilst we were hoping for stronger language in certain areas, the resolution provides a helpful contribution to the process towards developing a global compact, particularly mandating a report from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with a global compact focus. The resolution also contains important references to the criminalization of irregular migrants and to the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations.

We also welcome the resolution on climate change and migration passed at this session, again focused on how the Council can contribute towards the global compact on migration, as well as work underway on these issues under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. We look forward to the intersessional panel mandated by the resolution, along with reports to future sessions of the Council.

This session was the last for current Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau as he reached the end of his mandate. During the session, an interactive dialogue was held where he discussed final report with States, on a 2035 agenda for facilitating human mobility. QUNO extends its thanks to François Crépeau for his significant contribution towards migrants rights over the past 6 years and looks forward to working with his newly appointed successor, Felipe Gonzales Morales.

Global Compact Consultations

The third thematic session of the consultations for the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration was held on the 19th and 20th June in Geneva. This session focussed on ‘international cooperation and governance of migration in all its dimensions, including at borders, on transit, entry return, readmission, integration and reintegration.’

The topics covered in this session are some of the most problematic for the current protection of migrants’ human rights. We were concerned during the session about a lack of human rights and people-centred approach in the statements from many States, particularly around their policies on return and readmission of migrants and towards irregular migrants.

QUNO co-hosted a side event, together with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Mexican, Swiss, Portuguese and Philippine Missions on ‘Human rights perspectives on the governance of migration at borders and in the context of returns.’ The discussion was wide ranging, and in particular sought to highlight that the global compact’s content on borders and returns should be human rights based and compliant with existing international legal standards. The event featured the following speakers:

  • Craig Mokhiber, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (Moderator)
  • Erasmo Lara Cabrera, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico
  • Francois Crepeau, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants
  • Mariane Quintao, International Detention Coalition Youth Ambassador
  • Jonas Bergmann, Global Public Policy Institute
  • Driss El Yazami, Chair of the National Human Rights Council, Morocco 

​​The discussion was wide ranging, and in particular sought to highlight that the global compact’s content on borders and returns should be human rights based and compliant with existing international legal standards. 

For more information about our work on migration issues, see the relevant section of our website.

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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

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

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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