QUNO Geneva Office selects Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge as next director

Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge. Photo courtesy of Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge.

In August, Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) in Geneva, Switzerland, named Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge as its next director.

Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, a South African national, is a member of Western Cape Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. She has an honorary doctorate of law from Haverford College in Haverford, Pa., diplomas in microbiology and adult education, a degree in social science, and an honors degree in philosophy. In spring 2020 she was a Friend in Residence at Haverford, where she presented an anthropology course to students from Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore. For the course she drew from her own direct experience participating in South Africa’s negotiated settlement as a delegate to the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, and as a member of the constituent assembly that drew up the country’s new constitution in the 1990s.

“Nozizwe comes to QUNO Geneva as the first African director of any Quaker international agency,” says Colm Ó Cuanacháin, clerk of the search committee. “QUNO has always strived for all voices to be heard at the United Nations and in the quiet diplomacy we practice; the issues we work on (climate change, human rights—especially those of migrants—sustaining peace, arms control, just and sustainable economic systems) are particularly important right now to the African continent and to the Global South in general.”

“I take over at a time of change in the world, new and intersecting global challenges of COVID-19, global warming, deepening economic inequality and polarization within and between countries,” Madlala-Routledge says. “I also come at a time of change of leadership at the QUNO New York Office and other Quaker institutions, including FCNL [Friends Committee on National Legislation], QCEA [Quaker Council on European Affairs], and FWCC [Friends World Committee for Consultation]. I look forward to working with the new leaders in responding to the new challenges and contributing a perspective from the Global South.”

Outgoing director Jonathan Woolley will retire by the end of 2021. Madlala-Routledge will begin by November, once the Swiss immigration procedures are complete.

“Quakers are doing really important work at the United Nations,” says QUNO Geneva co-clerk Holly Spencer. “We are excited to be rising to the urgent challenges of geopolitical crises and changes under new leadership. We are grateful to Jonathan Woolley for his outstanding contribution to international policy and practice as the steward of Quaker engagement with UN decision making in Geneva for over ten years.”

Updated 10/8/21: This news story was updated with a new photo of Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge and an additional sentence about her Friend in Residence role at Haverford College last year.

FJ News Editors

Erik Hanson and Windy Cooler are the news editors for Friends Journal. They contributed to the reporting of this story. Do you know about any Quaker news stories we should be covering? Send us tips at [email protected].

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