Timeline

March 2018

Pathways for Peace - Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict: A Reflective Conversation

In March, QUNO, in collaboration with Club de Madrid, hosted a reflective, off-the record conversation on the recently launched United Nations-World Bank Report, Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict. Launched in Washington D.C at the 2018 World Bank Fragility Forum, the report is the first joint study between the UN and the World Bank. Hosted at Quaker House, the event provided a timely opportunity to reflect upon the contents of the report and the difficulties that come with meeting the challenges of prevention. 

Participants reflected upon the findings of the report, the changing nature of contemporary conflict, the need to address grievances before they metastasize, and the need for states, as well as other actors, to pursue inclusive and dialogue centered policies in times of crisis. It was noted that the report should be viewed as a tool for prevention and early-action, and that its findings clearly highlight the business case for prevention, which states that prevention is economically beneficial even in the most pessimistic scenario and that the benefits of prevention increase over time, whereas the costs fall.  It was agreed that for peace processes to be successful, both drivers of peace and drivers of conflict must be addressed.

Participants recognized that the report reflects a cultural shift in the politics of prevention as it marries both political and technical aspects. Crucially, it was expressed that what is most important is that the UN and World Bank have highlighted their partnership and shared responsibility to carry out prevention effectively. QUNO looks forward to continuing its partnership with Club de Madrid, and the authors of the report.

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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

Meeting the Challenge of Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace Through Partnerships and Inclusivity

The dual resolutions on peacebuilding and sustaining peace adopted in April 2016 by the United Nations (UN) Security Council and General Assembly (S/RES/2282; A/RES/70/262) marked a fundamental shift in the UN’s understanding of peacebuilding. Before peacebuilding was understood as taking place after conflict. However, by declaring sustaining peace as “a goal and process…aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict,” Member States now universally recognize that efforts to build peace must be taking place before, during and after conflict. 

Starting in 2017, the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) and The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) undertook a dynamic research project to increase the practical understanding of what sustaining peace means; assess the progress and remaining challenges facing peacebuilding practice; and articulate recommendations for the way forward. The research led to a joint report, Building Sustainable Peace: How inclusivity, partnerships and a reinforced UN Peacebuilding Architecture will support delivery

To share their findings, on 9 March QUNO and GPPAC organized an informal conversation amongst Member States and UN colleagues to reflect on how inclusivity is and can be fostered, and how partnerships for building peace are practically developed and sustained. The event, titled Meeting the Challenge of Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace Through Partnerships and Inclusivity, focused the challenges that hinder peacebuilding on the ground and at the regional and international levels. The meeting also provided an opportunity for peer to peer learning amongst participants as they shared examples of inclusive programming and reflected on challenges that have or continue to occur when seeking to develop and implement inclusive, partnership-based peacebuilding policies. 

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March 2018

QUNO, in partnership with GPPAC, releases new report, Building Sustainable Peace

Following extensive interview and desk based research, QUNO and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) released their report, ‘Building Sustainable Peace: How inclusivity, partnerships and a reinforced UN Peacebuilding Architecture will support delivery.’

This report builds upon our past peacebuilding body of work, including our 2015 report Filling the Gap, and serves to contribute towards the forward momentum on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. It is the result of desk research as well as interviews with over 35 diverse Member State and UN representatives at UN Headquarters, which provided ample opportunity to learn first-hand how the resolutions have shaped policy and practice by those intimately involved in these processes.

GPPAC and QUNO have a long-standing history engaging with the UN’s Peacebuilding Architecture, and seeking to support and enhance the normative, political, and operational advancement of peacebuilding at the UN. We have continued to lend our voices and expertise during this dynamic time as peacebuilding and prevention have been brought to the fore of the UN’s work following the adoption of the sustaining peace resolutions, as well as other milestones such as the progress made on the 2030 Agenda, the welcoming of the new UN Secretary-General (UNSG), and steps taken with regards to the UNSG’s reform processes.

From our research report, we identified 5 key messages and developed practical recommendations for the UN, Member States and peacebuilding practitioners that will contribute towards the ongoing efforts to build sustainable peace. Our key messages include:

  1. Sustaining peace should be recognised as an evolutionary development that builds upon decades of progress in the UN’s understanding of peacebuilding and conflict prevention. It is also based on the UN’s experience accompanying these processes at the regional and country level around the world.
  2. Member States, with UN support, should now focus on turning words into action to deliver sustainable peace in a comprehensive, integrated and coherent manner at UN Headquarters and regional and country levels.
  3. Sustaining peace provides an opportunity to learn from and build upon the work of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), but far more remains to be done to enhance the PBC’s capacities.
  4. Inclusivity and partnerships are critical to sustaining peace but remain under-utilised in practice.
  5. Barriers and fragmentation that persist must be overcome.

To read the full report, please click here.

To read the post on this report on GPPAC's "UN Insights" blog, please click here.

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March 2018

QUNO gives an oral statement on environmental rights at the 37th session of the Human Rights Council

During the clustered interactive dialogue discussing the Special Rapporteurs' reports on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment (by Mr John Knox) as well as on the right to food at the 37th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva; Isobel Edwards, on behalf of QUNO Geneva, gave a statement on human rights and the environment. Please take a look at the full recording, with Isobel Edwards speaking at 27 minutes in, as well as the written oral statement below.

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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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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 gives an oral statement on sustaining peace and the UPR at the 37th session of the Human Rights Council

During the panel discussion on Human Rights Mainstreaming at the 3rd Meeting of the 37th Regular Session Human Rights Council in Geneva, Florence Foster, on behalf of QUNO Geneva gave a statement on sustaining peace and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights picked up on the QUNO statement in her concluding words on the panel. Please take a look at the full recording, with Florence Foster speaking at 1 hour 56 minutes and Mary Robinson at 2 hour 5 minutes as well as the written oral statement below.

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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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January 2018

In & Around the UN

Our New York office is happy to share our most recent Newsletter, "In & Around the UN," featuring reflections on a trip to Burundi; future challenges posed to peacebuilding organisations; the role of civil society in conflict prevention, and more. 

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January 2018

QUNO attends expert group on "Advancing the 2030 Agenda" organized by the UN DESC

In January, Susan Bragdon, QUNO's Representative for Food & Sustainability, was one of 46 experts invited to Advancing the 2030 Agenda: Interlinkages and Common Themes at the HLPF 2018, an expert group meeting (EGM) organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) in New York. The EGM was asked to look at the interconnections between the Sustainable Development Goals under review at the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2018 and the rest of Agenda 2030, and discuss concrete implications for policies, programmes and partnerships. Susan moderated a panel discussion on sustainable production and consumption and with all the panels, participants were challenged to reach beyond their respective areas of expertise, explore interactions across goals and targets. The work continues virtually now as the participants support UN DESA in mapping pathways that leverage progress in multiple areas and help shape an understanding of common challenges and shared objectives. The outcome of this meeting and continuing work will feed into the 2018 HLPF as an important substantive input for Member States.

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January 2018

Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform hosts meeting entitled ‘What UN Peace and Security Reform means for Prevention’

On January 24, 2018, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform hosted an event entitled ‘What UN Peace and Security Reform means for Prevention.’ Held nearly one year after the appointment of the new UN Secretary-General and the elevation of his initial vision of prevention as the core UN priority, this event provided an opportunity for civil society and UN actors to constructively discuss the meaning of the UN Peace and Security Reform for the UN’s prevention agenda. The objective of this meeting was to discuss the impact of the Peace and Security Reform on the UN and its civil society partners, reflect on key themes, identify concrete areas for civil society to better engage with the UN and provide space for an open and constructive dialogue on how UN and civil society cooperation can contribute to the UN’s work on prevention.

Hosted at Quaker House, participants at this off-the-record meeting agreed that the Peace and Security Reform has potential when integrated with the parallel Development and Management Reforms. The Peace and Security Reform tries to tackle the system’s organizational shortcomings that have made the conceptualization and operationalization of prevention so challenging for the UN at a time when the international system is stretched to its limits as a result of emerging and reemerging conflict. Participants expressed that despite the reform being somewhat headquarters focused, there is a strong regional dimension that tries to address fragmentation. All participants reflected that greater local and regional engagement with civil society actors would enhance the value of the UN’s work on prevention. The discussion highlighted that there are entry points for civil-society in both analysis and measurement of conflict.

As co-facilitators of the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform, the event was co-hosted by QUNO, represented by Rachel Madenyika (UN Representative), and GPPAC (Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict).  Established in 2016, 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.

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January 2018

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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December 2017

Sustaining Peace: Partnerships for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding

“There is no room for complacency when it comes to peace.” H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

Through the adoption of dual resolutions on peacebuilding and sustaining peace in 2016, the UN General Assembly [A/RES/70/262] and UN Security Council [S/RES/2282] committed to a more comprehensive understanding and approach to peace. On 8 December, QUNO  cosponsored an event on sustaining peace coordinated in partnership with the President of the United Nations General Assembly’s  Office, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the UN Foundation, Global Compact, and New York University’s Center for International Cooperation . The discussion focused on the topics of prevention and partnerships for sustaining peace, and featured experts from civil society, academia, members of the private sector, and UN colleagues.   This event served as a first public meeting for the President of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, as he moves forward on his “roadmap” for sustaining peace. 

In the first panel, participants discussed  conflict prevention and sustaining peace, focusing particularly on how different actors can best contribute to the preventive aspects of building long-term sustainable peace. Sharing the perspective of local peace workers on the ground, Bridget Moix, US Senior Representative and Head of Advocacy for Peace Direct, noted that “prevention and peacebuilding need to be locally led, regionally anchored, and internationally supported.” Bridget was also joined by Executive Director and Founder of Camp for Peace Liberia, B. Abel Learwellie who shared his experience working as a peacebuilder in Liberia. Abel shared the work Camp for Peace conducts to engage and empower vulnerable youth populations to help rebuild Liberia.  

Given this critical role of inclusivity and partnerships, the second panel focused on how to build such partnerships for peace. The panel was moderated by Andrew Tomlinson of QUNO who opened the discussion by sharing that “peace, justice, and inclusion are at the heart of sustaining peace .” The panelists discussed how new partnership frameworks for peace should move away from crisis response and towards a greater emphasis on prevention and building the resilience of communities. This change is beneficial because in early stages of prevention, a wider range of tools and initiatives are available that are likely to be more cost-effective than the tools necessary for conflict response. 

This half-day event was one of many avenues that will be taken to contribute towards developments ahead of the High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace, which will be held in 2018. QUNO looks forward to continuing to  support such efforts, with a particular focus on the need for inclusive, partnership based peacebuilding approaches.

Watch the event here.

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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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November 2017

QUNO joined the opening panel at the 10th Annual Meeting of the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform

On 6 November, QUNO’s UN Representative Rachel Madenyika participated on the opening panel of the 10th Annual Meeting of the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform. Entitled ‘Preventing Violent Conflict: Taking stock and looking forward’, this session took stock of the progress being made towards the prevention of violent conflicts, exploring the future of prevention practices for all actors in this field. Joining Rachel on the panel was the Under-Secretary General and Special Advisor on Policy, Ms. Ana Maria Menéndez, and Mr. Darynell Rodriguez Torres of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC). 

The interactive discussion connected past trends of the policies and practices with current and future needs for the proactive prevention of violent conflict. The session asked questions that considered lessons-learned from the many cases of failed prevention, practical priorities for preventing violent conflict, and the future for the UN in the prevention of violent conflict. In her remarks, Rachel first expressed the importance of understanding why, and what, we are preventing, and secondly that by looking at lessons learned from the last twenty years of UN engagement, one possibility is to focus on examples of long term success to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Rachel articulated that conflict analysis that does not consider participatory approaches lead to interventions that do not necessarily address the real needs of local people, and therefore, the inclusion of all key actors is central to conflict prevention. In closing, Rachel encouraged the full auditorium that inclusion of a wide range of perspectives including those of the people most affected leads to better understanding, more legitimate and more long-term decisions to prevent conflict.

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November 2017

Introducing New York’s Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform to Geneva

On 8 November, amidst the highly attended Geneva Peace Week, QUNO’s UN Representative Rachel Madenyika presented and moderated a panel entitled “The Future of Prevention: Civil Society Perspectives on Obstacles and Opportunities to better support the UN’s work on Prevention.” The workshop was co-organized by the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC).

Rachel opened the meeting by introducing the work of the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform (the Platform). Launched in 2016 in New York, the inclusive initiative aims to support the UN’s prevention agenda through strengthening coordination and information sharing between civil society organizations and the UN at all levels by identifying concrete and practical steps to enhance the UN and civil society’s collective capacity to carry out preventative work. Rachel shared with the Geneva audience that the Platform primarily worked through sharing of best practices, identifying areas of potential collaboration, supporting the UN’s work in early warning and early action, and most importantly, that the Platform relied on an informal extensive network of global expert civil society organizations. The panel highlighted concrete examples of opportunities and challenges in engaging the UN. GPPAC emphasized that for local civil society actors, such a platform is a significant opportunity to empower civil society engagement not only with the UN but also with local, national, and international actors. SSRC expressed the importance of engaging with local academics as experts who are knowledgeable of the country context. The speaker from the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) discussed how early warning systems are effective in West Africa because of the strong networks of local actors that work cohesively in preventing conflict from escalating. Funding and lack of information sharing were identified by all speakers as challenges to better support the UN. The Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform was a welcomed initiative in Geneva and the event was well attended with participants expressing interest in joining the Platform’s larger network of civil society experts.

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October 2017

The Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform hosts event entitled ‘Reflections on the Role of Women in the Prevention of Violent Conflict’

On 25 October, the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform hosted a successful, well attended event entitled ‘Reflections on the Role of Women in the Prevention of Violent Conflict’. Held in advance of the Security Council’s Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, this event brought together the Gender Focal Points from the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and civil society actors from New York. 

Held at Quaker House, this informal, off-the-record meeting offered a space to discuss changes that are needed at the local context and regional inter-governmental levels to increase meaningful participation of women in peace processes and conflict prevention. The discussion highlighted the main challenges and risks for women working in peacebuilding and conflict prevention. Reflections from Fiji, Cameroon, Armenia, and Barcelona emphasized that women are often first responders and their participation is essential in resolving conflict and in helping to build sustainable peace, and yet they are often not included or consulted in programming directed towards them and rarely are key partners in implementation. Participants left the meeting empowered to continue uplifting greater involvement of women in high-level decision-making processes and in formal leadership roles.

The Platform event was moderated by QUNO’s UN Representative for the Prevention of Violent Conflict, Rachel Madenyika. QUNO and GPPAC co-facilitate the Civil Society-UN Prevention Platform, established in 2016, which aims to support the UN’s prevention agenda through strengthening coordination and information sharing between civil society organizations and the UN at all levels, and through close collaboration with the Department of Political Affairs (DPA). The Platform believes that the UN’s work on prevention would benefit from a systematic engagement with civil society and that the inclusion of diverse civil society expertise is crucial to achieving sustainable peace and development.

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October 2017

QUNO moderates panel on "Trade, investment and food security" at CFS 44

In October, Representative Susan Bragdon moderated a panel entitled "Trade, investment and food security: designing rules for sustainable food systems" at the 44th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS 44). The session was organized by the Columbia University Law School, the Institute for Sustainable Development and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. 

Susan introduced the subject by describing how trade and investment rules have evolved over the last 25+ years to reach ever more into the domestic sphere of governance, limiting the flexibility of Member States in designing national rules to support food and nutrition security.  Speakers with experience in Central America, the Mekong region, and Ghana described specific national experience, while researchers from the organizers of the panel described current trends and possible future directions. The side event was well-attended and a lively discussion ensued from the background and presentations.

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October 2017

QUNO co-hosts a Food Security and Sustaining Peace side-event at the World Committee on Food Security

QUNO co-hosted a side-event “Contributing to sustaining peace and conflict prevention: perspectives from agriculture, food security and nutrition” at the World Committee on Food Security (CFS) on 9 October.  Other co-hosts were the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme and the Netherlands. The standing-room-only attendance of over 70 indicated people’s broad interest in the the nexus between peace and food and nutrition security.  Nora Meier, who just finished her position as a Programme Assistant in QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Programme is now a consultant to FAO in an FAO-QUNO research project on the role of farmers’ seeds systems in sustaining peace. Nora presented her hypothesis and initial findings and noted that she would welcome input from the expertise at the CFS. After a lively discussion, delegates stayed to offer further information and encouragement to Nora and to Food & Sustainability Representative, Susan Bragdon.

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