Quakers and the UN

Held in the Quaker tradition of dialogue and mutual respect, the Quaker United Nation Office promote

Central to Quakerism is the peace testimony. This derives from the conviction that there is the light, whether that be of God or, as I find more relevant, of truth within everyone. However, rather than holding to written creeds, Quakers find it more meaningful to adopt testimonies that can be followed as an active expression of our faith. This means that a commitment to peace and non-violence, far from being a passive state, is experienced through our daily lives, as well as in engaging with local, national and international issues.

For me, like many young Quakers, being politically active is an important part of this commitment. Throughout history, Quakers have been outspoken and active, most notably in the abolition of slavery and in refusing to serve in the military. Today, many can be found engaged in issues such as campaigning against the Iraq war and for nuclear disarmament, as well as supporting asylum seekers and refugees in Britain and, more recently, in action against climate change.

In July this year, as part of a group of young people from around the world, I went to Geneva to learn about how Quakers are involved in peace work internationally. The Quaker United Nation Office [QUNO], based in a house within a residential part of the city, works on issues of disarmament, human rights and global economics as well as bearing witness to international political discussions.

As part of their work, following Quakers’ tradition of skills in creating dialogue and mediation, QUNO provides a space for United Nations delegates from all countries to gather in informal and off-the-record meetings. Away from the public setting where words and actions are restricted, these meetings, often carried out over a meal, are intended to put members on an equal footing and promote understanding between two sides of an important debate. For those mission delegates from developing countries where resources and experience are often limited, QUNO provides support and helps create useful networks.

In exercising this commitment to dialogue and refraining from the name-and-shame tactics that many NGOs use in this setting, QUNO’s achievements in promoting social justice to international debate are vast and overlooked. Although made up of a small number of staff, over the years the organisation has played an integral role in treaties on landmines and other weapons, bringing the issue of child soldiers to diplomatic discussion and instigating research into peace-building, along with many other issues.

As a faith group, Quakers have the fortunate opportunity of having an organisation that is skilled and well respected within the international diplomatic community, so that our commitment to peace can lead to real results.

Chris Walker is a young Quaker from Leicester, studying at Brighton University
Screengrab from Telegraph video
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The Telegraph’s bizarre list of 100 reasons to be happy about Brexit

“Old-fashioned light bulbs”, “crooked cucumbers”, and “new vocabulary”.

As the economy teeters on the verge of oblivion, and the Prime Minister grapples with steering the UK around a black hole of political turmoil, the Telegraph is making the best of a bad situation.

The paper has posted a video labelled “100 reasons to embrace Brexit”. Obviously the precise number is “zero”, but that didn’t stop it filling the blanks with some rather bizarre reasons, floating before the viewer to an inevitable Jerusalem soundtrack:

Cheap tennis balls

At last. Tennis balls are no longer reserved for the gilded eurocrat elite.

Keep paper licences

I can’t trust it unless I can get it wet so it disintegrates, or I can throw it in the bin by mistake, or lose it when I’m clearing out my filing cabinet. It’s only authentic that way.

New hangover cures

What?

Stronger vacuums

An end to the miserable years of desperately trying to hoover up dust by inhaling close to the carpet.

Old-fashioned light bulbs

I like my electricals filled with mercury and coated in lead paint, ideally.

No more EU elections

Because the democratic aspect of the European Union was something we never obsessed over in the run-up to the referendum.

End working time directive

At last, I don’t even have to go to the trouble of opting out of over-working! I will automatically be exploited!

Drop green targets

Most people don’t have time to worry about the future of our planet. Some don’t even know where their next tennis ball will come from.

No more wind farms

Renewable energy sources, infrastructure and investment – what a bore.

Blue passports

I like my personal identification how I like my rinse.

UK passport lane

Oh good, an unadulterated queue of British tourists. Just mind the vomit, beer spillage and flakes of sunburnt skin while you wait.

No fridge red tape

Free the fridge!

Pounds and ounces

Units of measurement are definitely top of voters’ priorities. Way above the economy, health service, and even a smidgen higher than equality of tennis ball access.

Straight bananas

Wait, what kind of bananas do Brexiteers want? Didn’t they want to protect bendy ones? Either way, this is as persistent a myth as the slapstick banana skin trope.

Crooked cucumbers

I don’t understand.

Small kiwi fruits

Fair enough. They were getting a bit above their station, weren’t they.

No EU flags in UK

They are a disgusting colour and design. An eyesore everywhere you look…in the uh zero places that fly them here.

Kent champagne

To celebrate Ukip cleaning up the east coast, right?

No olive oil bans

Finally, we can put our reliable, Mediterranean weather and multiple olive groves to proper use.

No clinical trials red tape

What is there to regulate?

No Turkey EU worries

True, we don’t have to worry. Because there is NO WAY AND NEVER WAS.

No kettle restrictions

Free the kettle! All kitchen appliances’ lives matter!

Less EU X-factor

What is this?

Ditto with BGT

I really don’t get this.

New vocabulary

Mainly racist slurs, right?

Keep our UN seat

Until that in/out UN referendum, of course.

No EU human rights laws

Yeah, got a bit fed up with my human rights tbh.

Herbal remedy boost

At last, a chance to be treated with medicine that doesn’t work.

Others will follow [picture of dominos]

Hooray! The economic collapse of countries surrounding us upon whose trade and labour we rely, one by one!

Better English team

Ah, because we can replace them with more qualified players under an Australian-style points-based system, you mean?

High-powered hairdryers

An end to the miserable years of desperately trying to dry my hair by yawning on it.

She would’ve wanted it [picture of Margaret Thatcher]

Well, I’m convinced.

I'm a mole, innit.