The Conference of the Parties (COP) 27 started on Sunday 6th November in Egypt, at Sharm El Sheik. For the first two days, global leaders made speeches and set out bold suggestions and resolutions, then their teams of negotiators set about the enormous task of finding solutions and agreement to the problems that we face. Reaching meaningful agreements is challenging to say the least, and there is an important role for informal conversations between diplomats, to give them space to explore possible meeting points, away from the glare of political expectations.
The Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) with its centres in Geneva and New York, has provided vital ‘quiet diplomacy’ – places where diplomats and UN staff can meet and talk confidentially with skilled help away from the media. QUNO works to develop and maintain international standards and practices that enable and empower peaceful social, political and economic relationships. It aims to build a safer, sustainable and more just world.
Ilkley Quaker, Robert Gibson, is a Trustee of QUNO, and explains the significance of the QUNO presence at COP27:
“The Quakers have been associated with the United Nations since it was established in 1948 and have been at the heart of many campaigns to promote peace and international understanding. At COP 27, QUNO is represented by Lindsey Fielder Cooke, an expert on the human impact of climate change, which is central to the justice agenda at this meeting. Because of QUNO’s standing and credibility, she is one of the few non-Governmental Organisation representatives to be called to speak at recent United Nations summit meetings.”
QUNO focusses on four pivotal topics – peacebuilding and preventing violent conflict, human rights and refugees, sustainable and just economic systems, and the human impacts of climate change. Specialists work on each strand, providing highly valued information and new ideas to feed into discussions and debate at the UN.
He goes on to explain:
“This work is rooted in the Quaker fundamentals of peace, truth, justice, equality and simplicity. Quakers understand peace, not as the absence of war and violence, but the need to recognise the seeds of conflict in all our social, political and economic relationships. Quakers recognise the equal worth of every person and we aim to live our faith through actions rather than through words.”
QUNO is valued for its tenacity and long-term approach to difficult and complicated issues where it can take ages to bring about change for the better. Its campaigns have achieved lasting change, such as its work on developing and getting adopted the UN Charter to stop the recruitment and deployment of child soldiers.
Robert Gibson has been serving as Trustee and Treasurer to QUNO since 2018. He’s proud to link Ilkley and Yorkshire with matters of critical importance in the world and is happy to provide more information about the work of Quakers at the United Nations (he can be contacted via this website Contact Us)
In our relatively safe and secure bit of the world we can seem far apart from global concerns, but of course, we are each part of it.
You can read more about QUNO on their website quno.org
Blog posts are written by members of Ilkley Meeting and occasionally other contributors. Posts are not necessarily endorsed by the Meeting and may not always represent the opinions of our members or the wider Quaker community.