QUNO Representative Sarah Clarke with visiting Chinese scholars to the UN in New York (credit: Jason Tower)Photo: AFSC
The prevention of violent conflict is one of the principal charter objectives of the UN, yet the prevention discussion remains fragmented and lacking in focus. QUNO continues to raise awareness about local peacemaking initiatives in Myanmar and encourages a balanced approach to the region. The work with China and with other ‘rising power’ Member States continues to make significant progress. QUNO has been an active participant in policy discussions about the future direction of work on the prevention of violent conflict at the UN.
We seek to support and uphold efforts within the UN community to move from a culture of crisis management and reaction towards strengthening capacities to prevent violent conflict. Key areas of focus in this work are the inclusion of key relevant stakeholders, constructive engagement with rising centres of power and the prevention of election-related violence.
Recent months have seen a number of headline-worthy events in Myanmar (Burma), including the release of political prisoners and the announcement of ceasefire agreements with some of Myanmar’s many ethnic groups. One of the lesser-known developments behind these headlines has been the growth and increasingly important role of local civil society over recent years. QUNO facilitated a number of small, quiet Quaker House briefings for members of the UN community to meet individuals and delegations from inside the country. In June 2011, we worked together with partner organisations to publish a public statement in response to fighting that erupted in northern Myanmar, calling for a non-military solution to ongoing tensions.
We continued to monitor the situation in Somalia and seek out opportunities to raise up peacemaking efforts of local actors. In May we hosted a meeting of Augustine Mahiga, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, with international non-governmental organisations at the UN.
We worked closely with American Friends Service Committee’s Northeast Asia Quaker International Affairs Representative to build connections with academics and policy advisors from China. These discussions resulted in two significant delegation visits, which are described under the Peacebuilding programme section below, and further work is planned.
Our work on the prevention of election-related violence continued throughout 2011. At the country level, QUNO reached out to a number of Quaker service bodies to raise awareness about community level efforts to prevent violence in polls that took place in Congo and Liberia. We also hosted a visit by Friends Church Peace Teams to share information on community level activities aimed at preventing future election violence in Kenya.
The broader issue of prevention of violent conflict has gained greater attention at the UN recently, with the release of a major report on preventive diplomacy. QUNO has been contributing to this discussion. In November we worked with the South African Mission to facilitate a meeting of the Security Council Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, which reviewed the lessons learned from recent developments in Africa. Then in December, QUNO made a presentation at a workshop in Geneva, organised by the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, on recent developments in the field of preventive action. This was attended by practitioners and scholars from around the world