Canberra & Region Quakers

FWCC Committee Representatives report of Meeting of the Quaker United Nations (Geneva) Committee (QUNC)

In the featured image above are QUNC members: Left to right: David Bucura, Ruth Harvey, Ronis Chapman, Hezron Masitsa, Kate Graham, Mica Estrada, Oliver Robertson, Helen Drewery.

The below was written by CRQ Member Ronis Chapman representing the Asia West-Pacific Section (Source: Quakers Round Asia Pacific Newsletter, 22 June 2024)

Meeting held at Chateau de Bossey – on the banks of Lake Geneva.

The Committee consists of 5 representatives of Britain Yearly Meeting and 5 representatives on FWCC. One of the BYM positions is vacant and the EMES rep was unable to attend.QUNC has once face to face meeting a year, a two day virtual meeting in November, and other meetings during the year as necessary. Decisions between meetings of the whole committee are made by the Executive Committee – the Co Clerks, the Treasurer and the line manager of the Director, and this committee works closely with QUNO staff during the year

BYM representatives are Oliver Robertson, (Head of witness and Worship, BYM and line manager to the Director), Ruth Harvey, Helen Drewery(Co-clerk), Kate Graham(Treasurer)and the fifth position is currently vacant.

FWCC representatives are Hezron Masitsa (World Office), David Bucura (Co-clerk fromAfrica Section), Saskia Kuhlmann (EMES), Mica Estrada (Section of the Americas), RonisChapman (AWPS).

Invited participants of this meeting were: Paul Parker (BYM Recording Clerk), Tim Gee (FWCC General Secretary), Sarah Clarke, (Director QUNO New York) and Aletia Dundas,(QUNO New York Co-Clerk).

QUNO staff in attendance were: Interim Director and Representative for the Human Rights and Refugees Program LaurelTownhead, Interim Deputy Director and Representative for the Human Impacts of ClimateChange Program Lindsey Fielder Cook, Sophie Naeye, Program Assistants Anna Aguto(Human Impacts of Climate Change), Chatrina Schumaker (Peace and Disarmament), MariaKamenias (Human Rights & Refugees), Andres Naranjo (Program Associate Sustainable and Just Economic Systems) William Nsonde (Finance Officer). Yazeed Kamaldien(Communications consultant attended virtually for relevant items).

The QUNO Director, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge is currently on leave and, with the Committee, is considering her retirement options.

On Friday there was an introduction to QUNO at Quaker House for new committee members (Helen Drewery, Ruth Harvey and Ronis Chapman). We met each of the staff and heard alittle of their work. Jonathan Prentice, Head of Secretariat of the UN Network on Migration spoke to all of us about the State of the United Nations and this proved to be a helpful introduction to our weekend together.

The meeting was a combination of reporting on the current programs – Peace and Disarmament, The Human Impact of Climate Change, Human Rights and Refugees and Sustainable and Just Economic Systems – and consideration of the management and structure of the office. Hearing of the work of each program first hand is very inspiring. QUNO is a known and trusted presence at the United Nations and staff in each program use the welltested method of quiet diplomacy. Negotiators and country representatives are offered opportunities to meet informally, share ideas and consider options that are not easily discussed in a large formal U.N. meeting.

The work of each program can be followed on the QUNO website :

A few highlights worth noting:

The Human Impact of Climate Change programme staff Lindsey Fielder -Cook and Anna Aguto face the world’s deep environmental crisis every working day. They find hope from the engagement and support of Quakers around the world and from their understanding that transformative actions are available if we can find the political will to act on them.

The focus of the Sustainable and Just Economic Systems programme is the development of an internationally binding Global Plastics Treaty. Andres Naranjo has been working with partner bodies to provide legal resources and information on plastic subsidies. Andre noted that it is heartening that civil society lobbyists are outnumbering the many influential industrial lobbyists.

QUNO has been involved in the establishment and ongoing work of the Geneva Peace Building Platform ( and it is encouraging that the Platform is becoming a more formal body with its own administrative support.

QUNO continues to foster leadership in young people through the annual recruitment of programme assistants and also through the Geneva Summer School. Friends around the world are encouraged to continue to support young people to apply for these opportunities.

It was agreed that for the next 18 months Laurel Townhead would fill the role of Director/Representative and Lindsey Fielder-Cook would be Deputy Director/Representative.This will be reviewed in 12 months.

Concern about the financial reserves led to an agreement to not advertise for a replacement for Florence Foster who until recently has been the Representative for the Peace and Disarmament Program. Steps being taken to seek new sources of funding are the establishment of a Fund Raising Working Group and the development of Ethical Guidelines for Donations Policy. Funding for QUNO Geneva is primarily from Britain Yearly Meeting. Friends and around the world are encouraged to consider possible sources of funding for this work QUNO does of behalf of all of us.

Mica Estrada led the committee through a session on diversity, equality and inclusion. This was an opportunity for us to reflect on our personal sense of equality and privilege. It was agreed that we will continue with this work individually and as a committee and look forward to ongoing on-line training opportunities that will be organised

We valued the presence of Sarah and Aletia from QUNO New York and explored ways to increase the collaboration of both offices.

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