On April 26, United Nations Representative, and Director of the Quaker U.N. Office in New York, Andrew Tomlinson, spoke at Bloomfield College.
Tomlinson, who was first a banker, told the crowd gathered in the Shelby Art Room that he, as a practicing Quaker, began looking for employment that would better connect to his beliefs. He hoped to secure a position where one’s values held a substantial role. He found a home at the United Nations.
“The United Nations is where all 193 nations have a voice,” he said.
Tomlinson presented “Every Country My Country, and Every Man My Brother: Values and Transformation in International Policy Settings.”
He explained exactly what the United Nations is comprised of, and how the global norms on peace and justice issues are debated and set there. He broke down his role at the United Nations, which is to engage daily and influence policy makers at the United Nations.
His mission is to help the United Nations fully carry out its responsibility to prevent violent conflict and build sustainable peace around the world. He works with diplomats, UN officials and civil society groups to change the way the U.N. community thinks and acts at a policy level in New York which then impacts the actions of the U.N. and others on the ground.
At the heart of all this, Tomlinson explained, are values. He was quick to clarify that it is not about imposing your values on others, but instead, trying to connect to another’s situation.
“Values are a legitimate and effective entry point to discussion,” said Tomlinson. “Values are at the heart of impacting policy decisions.”
His presentation explored the dilemmas that emerge in values-based work at the United Nations, including the tensions between principles and pragmatism, and accompaniment and accountability. Tomlinson reflected on how inclusive values-based approaches can create the conditions for transformative outcomes.
Tomlinson effectively expressed to the audience that one gets their foot in the door of policy change by the way of fundamental values, then progress is made through engaging the inconsistencies of those values, and it is only then that you can foster any change.
“Do not be afraid of discussing values,” stressed Tomlinson. “Because that is where all the change happens.”