Saturday, July 06, 2013

....but what has FWCC ever done for us?

A bit like the Romans, the Trade Unions and every other version of the original Monty Python sketch there are those in our YM who see FWCC as something that we give money to but seem to see very little from in return. Thankfully they are few in number and less and less vociferous these days, not sure if that is due to the amount of legwork done by various Friends over recent years on behalf of FWCC or if it is a case of a few Quaker funerals solving the problem (as sometimes that is the only way certain 'problems' are solved!), a change of heart or other concerns taking over. However, I can appreciate that sometimes it is hard for those who don't get involved beyond their own Meeting or Worship Group to appreciate what we get for the fifth of our annual YM budget that gets spent one way or another on FWCC in terms of donations, funding our own reps to attend events, bringing visitors to YM etc.

But without FWCC there would be no Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) and without QUNO the world would be a poorer place, it is official! Andrew Tomlinson and Jonathan Woolley being the names on there that you're looking for, who make it clear they are named on behalf of their teams.

I've known a few interns and board members of QUNO over the years and met one or two of their long term staff. The Geneva Summer School used to be on my 'to do one day' list, but other things got in the way (mainly other more local Quaker events!) and like inter-railing it never quite happened, but I've long held an admiration for the work they do. When I was 17 on the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage I heard Duncan and Katharine Wood talk about their time at QUNO Geneva during the fairly early days of the Cold War, bringing diplomats from both sides together to simply get to know each other and discover that the 'others' were people too, with families, and hobbies etc not some demons as their respective media portrayed them. Whilst serving afternoon tea in the garden may not seem world changing, in its way it was as important as the more official work done. The research that comes out of QUNO these days and the briefing papers they provide which not only help NGOs and lobbyists but those UN offices who don't have the resources to fund their own research staff, has been invaluable and shifted world opions on such issues as child soldiers and landmines.

QUNO is one of those things I always feel I ought to know more about, but despite the fact that I'd have to check their website to see what the current list of concerns being worked on is I remain extremely grateful for its existance, for the endless work done in our name and for the changes this work brings - even if at times it may feel like John Woolman's campaign against slavery, ie long, slow and amidst a lot of ignorance about the details, but hopefully whilst not necessarily well informed I hope we're a bit quicker to support them as they speak truth to power.

1 comment:

Meg said...

FWCC is slso one place all the types of Friends touch each other. I used their website to get a quick overview for our Q101 class.