Timeline

September 2016

1.5C: Meeting the Challenges of the Paris Agreement

In September, Lindsey Fielder Cook, QUNO's Representative for Climate Change, attended the Oxford University conference, 1.5C: Meeting the Challenges of the Paris Agreement. QUNO applauds the Paris Agreement commitment to "pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels," yet we are aware this chance will be lost in some 5 years under the current greenhouse gas emission rate. QUNO is concerned that geo-engineering (climate engineering) is receiving more attention than sustainable behavior and economic system transformation, the latter which can empower civil society and our decision makers more effectively to address the root causes of anthropogenic climate change.

More information about the 1.5C conference can be found at the link below.

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September 2016

QUNO attends Public Consultation on Biodiversity and Human Rights at the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council

On September 22, 2016, QUNO attended a public consultation on biodiversity and human rights obligations at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox, presented his approach for his report to be introduced at the upcoming Human Rights Council session in March 2017. The release of the report, which will focus on human rights obligations as they relate to the protection of biological diversity and ecosystems, will be closely followed by QUNO.

While attending the public consultation, QUNO intervened to emphasize the importance of agricultural biological diversity and small-scale farmers in this discussion. QUNO stated its opinion that the unique characteristics of agricultural biological diversity could usefully be elaborated upon in the upcoming report. 

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September 2016

QUNO attends discussion on Children's Rights and the Environment

On the 23rd September, QUNO attended a day long "General Discussion" on the Rights of the Child and the Environment, held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. QUNO advocates greater integration of human rights and rights-based approaches in climate action. Climate change has impacts on the human right to life, health, food, water, adequate housing and self-determination. There is currently no human right to a "healthy environment," yet children and all our future generations will face the greatest consequences if we fail to address the root causes of anthropogenic climate change. This day long discussion gave voice to these concerns, and colleagues from QUNO's climate change, peace and human rights programmes were present.

More information can be found at the link below.

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September 2016

QUNO submits statement to 31st session of WIPO's committee on IP and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore

© WIPO 2016. Photo: Emmanuel Berrod

QUNO attended the opening of the 31st session of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) in Geneva on Monday September 19, 2016.

Following a panel discussion of Indigenous Peoples on a draft text and international legal instrument to ensure the effective protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, QUNO submitted a written statement to emphasize the importance of small-scale farmers in that discussion.  

In its statement, QUNO acknowledged and appreciated the essential representation of Indigenous Peoples present at the 31st WIPO IGC session. However, it called upon the IGC and those who take part in it to also encourage the participation of small-scale farmers, whether or not they identify themselves as Indigenous.

The statement was submitted on September 22, 2016. 

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Event of Note
September 2016

Peacebuilding Statement for International Day of Peace

In honour of the International Day of Peace, QUNO and peacebuilding organisations from around the world have issued a shared statement to UN member states on the importance of embracing the new global framework for peace. 

Over the last year, states have made significant new commitments to addressing the root causes of conflict and displacement, in both the 2030 Agenda and the Sustaining Peace resolutions. The statement calls on governments to embrace this new mandate and to mainstream peace policy, implement peace at home, foster peace around the world, support funding for peace and to protect and support civil society inclusion.

 

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September 2016

QUNO delivers oral statement on the rights of children of incarcerated parents at the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council

QUNO delivered an oral statement on the rights of children of incarcerated parents at the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The statement marked the five-year anniversary of the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Day of General Discussion on Children of Incarcerated Parents (held in September 2011), and recognised the importance of this event in contributing to improved international and national standards on the issue. 

QUNO called upon the Council to focus on implementing the relevant resolutions and to consider the situation of children of parents sentenced to death or executed ahead of the upcoming General Assembly resolution on moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Catherine Baker, Programme Assistant for Human Rights and Refugees delivered the statement during the General Debate discussion on Friday 16th September

 

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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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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

In a written statement, five Quaker organisations from Europe and the United States have called on governments around the world, to ensure that trade contributes to a more equal, economically just and sustainable world. The statement comes in the context of building opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), that is currently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States of America.

American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Quaker Council for European Affairs, Quaker United Nations Office and Quaker Peace & Social Witness are concerned that some aspects of the global trade system are working counter to their vision of equality, truth, integrity, simplicity, and peace and global commitments, such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals. TTIP exemplifies these concerns, which however, also apply to other trade agreements such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).    

The shared Quaker statement states that while “properly regulated trade can benefit everyone by contributing to well-being and by strengthening relationships and understanding between different countries and culture,” […] it is important to see trade for what it is, namely, a “tool, not an end in itself.” Thus, rather than measuring the success of any trade agreement solely in economic terms, Quakers agree in their statement that “a truly successful trade deal will benefit the whole of society and the environment.”

Quakers are alarmed that in its current form, TTIP and its negotiations are prioritising the prospect of short-term economic gain over the longer-term factors necessary to human wellbeing and the protection of the Earth. Furthermore, the inclusion of the proposed Investor to State Dispute Settlement mechanism or Investment Court System, that “gives investors privileged rights to challenge social, environmental, health or other legislation, not open to ‘ordinary’ citizens, are fundamentally antidemocratic in nature and therefore unacceptable.” 

Quakers state that “truth and transparency are the only way to ensure real accountability.” They are concerned with the lack of public access to details of the TTIP negotiations. Therefore, in their statement, they urge governments to ensure that “trade negotiations are transparent and negotiating parties seek meaningful input […] from a broad spectrum of civil society throughout the negotiation process.”

Read the full statement here.

Photo: GotCredit/Flickr

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