In recent months, one of my main areas of work has been connected to the COPING project. COPING is a three year EU funded research project on the mental health of children of prisoners. QUNO has been involved, alongside a consortium of nine other NGOs and academic institutions across Europe. Whilst my involvement comes at the very end of the project, I am enjoying participating in the process of making recommendations from the research findings as well as disseminating the results in and around the UN. One disturbing statistic from the research is that 25% of children with a parent in prison are at high risk of mental health problems. Key recommendations include seeing a child’s visit to see their parent in prison as a right of the child rather than a privilege of the offender. I attended the final conference of the project in Brussels in November. Whilst I was there, I was fortunate to be able to meet fellow Programme Assistants; Chris and Bethany in person at the Quaker Council for European Affairs. QUNO’s counterpart represents Quaker concerns at the European level. Look out for a guest blog post from them, coming soon to PO Box Peace!
As stipulated in my recent journal letter, another of my highlights so far, has been seeing Turkey give their first ever report to the Human Rights Committee relating to their obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The issue of Conscientious Objection to Military Service featured strongly. With this and other issues raised by NGOs and Turkish human rights activists, in a prior meeting with the Committee, being subsequently put to the State by individual Committee members. Whilst the topic of the lack of recognition of Conscientious Objectors (and their subsequent imprisonment and exclusion from access to government services) has often been raised at the European Court of Human Rights, due to the language barrier and lack of general knowledge about UN processes, many lawyers and NGOs in Turkey have not been aware of the Human Rights Committee as another method with which they can hold their government to account under its international legal obligations.
Outside of work, I have been sampling wine in local vineyards, practising Tai Chi by the lake, visiting thermal baths, enjoying the snow in Quaker House garden (see below), venturing to a Christmas market in Basel and generally enjoying what this part of Switzerland has to offer. I have also been busy with different writing projects. Fellow Peaceworker Owen and I wrote a review in The Friend of David Gee’s excellent book on peace and nonviolence Holding Faith, and an article I co-wrote called Genocide and settler colonialism: can a Lemkin-inspired genocide perspective aid our understanding of the Palestinian situation?  was published in the International Journal of Human Rights. All in all it has certainly been a busy few months!
Joyeux Noel à tous!