As United Nations (UN) representatives of the global Quaker community, Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) uses quiet diplomacy as a central working method for engaging the UN system, including bringing people together in off-the-record gatherings that allow for open sharing of perspectives and experiences.
QUNO programming has historically taken place through in-person dialogues at Quaker House in New York City, but the COVID-19 pandemic has required the organization to consider how to cultivate these spaces virtually. It also created opportunities for including more perspectives from outside of the UN environment into the work.
Since 2016, QUNO has co-facilitated the Civil Society–UN Prevention Platform, supporting the violent conflict prevention agenda by strengthening coordination and information sharing amongst civil society and UN actors. QUNO’s approach to the platform’s work seeks to create trust-based spaces for participants. In February through August, QUNO cohosted the platform’s discussion series, “UN Prevention Across Sectors and Institutions: Pathways for Effective Prevention,” bringing together member states, civil society, and UN experts to reflect on existing practices and remaining challenges for prevention. All six discussion events took place online. The series explored how to strengthen civil society: UN partnerships that focus on the contributions of grassroots actors, including young people, women, and community leaders. Participants also looked at strategies to address longer-term structural causes of violence such as inequalities and social grievances.