Sunday, 3 June 2012

Bahrain UPR at UN leads me to read Swarthmore lecture 2012

One thing leads to another very quickly these days for me. Only a few days after watching most of the Bahrain UPR on livestream, then watching the UK UPR only 3 days later, guess which book is brought to Meeting the day after publication?

My take aways are: the lunches; the long termism; the 100 or 200 years of work necessary to move on collectively from an injustice; the letting go; and the importance of writing laws/conventions and declarations.

Lunches: They invite only who they wish to and with a specific purpose in mind. Asking 2 people from each regional group makes it easier, no one is literally isolated. A self service lunch is better and when someone chooses to have pudding first the writer knows they are relaxed! (pages 37-44)

Long termism: Workers at Quaker House in Geneva often stay for many years. They have a memory and familiarity with the UN work based in patience. The local Quaker Meeting meets there so the house is always a spiritual centre.

"Sometimes results are obvious but often we work for years with no apparent progress." pages 4-5, I'd like to quote the whole passage really, so much insight.

The 100 or 200 year time scale: I cannot find the right pages, but for example abolition of slavery took a very long time. Abolition of the death penalty is still very much a live issue. (Sorry about the appalling pun, I only noticed it a few days later! This is a family trait, blame my genes.)

Letting go of an area of work: Once a topic has been taken up by several other groups and is accepted as a mainstream issue QUNO relinquishes it to focus more closely on other concerns.

Importance of writing laws and standards which can then be relied upon and used as accepted yardsticks by others in their times of need: 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and think of all those many agreements quoted in the BICI Report by Professor Bassiouni.

Snakes and Ladders - A personal exploration of Quaker work on human rights at the United Nations
By Rachel Brett
The 2012 Swarthmore Lecture
Published 26th May 2012 by Quaker Books

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