New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants

On September 19, 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a set of commitments to enhance the protection of refugees and migrants. These commitments are known as the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The New York Declaration reaffirms the importance of the international refugee regime and represents a commitment by Member States to strengthen and enhance mechanisms to protect people on the move. It paves the way for the adoption of two new global compacts in 2018: a global compact on refugees and a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

In adopting the New York Declaration, Member States:

  • expressed profound solidarity with those who are forced to flee;
  • reaffirmed their obligations to fully respect the human rights of refugees and migrants;
  • agreed that protecting refugees and the countries that shelter them are shared international responsibilities and must be borne more equitably and predictably;
  • pledged robust support to those countries affected by large movements of refugees and migrants;
  • agreed upon the core elements of a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework; and
  • agreed to work towards the adoption of a global compact on refugees and a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

Further information on the New York Declaration can be found in the documents under ‘Additional resources’ below.

The Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework

The New York Declaration sets out the key elements of a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (in Annex I) to be applied to large-scale movements of refugees and protracted refugee situations.

The four key objectives of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework are to:

  • Ease pressures on host countries;
  • Enhance refugee self-reliance;
  • Expand third-country solutions; and
  • Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.

UNHCR is working with governments and other stakeholders to apply the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) in a number of countries – including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Honduras, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania – and through a regional approach to the Somalia situation.

The global compact on refugees

The New York Declaration calls upon the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to propose a ‘global compact on refugees’ in his annual report to the United Nations General Assembly in 2018, to build upon the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework. For further information, please see Towards a global compact on refugees.

The global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration

The New York Declaration also provides for the negotiation of a global, compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, which is to be adopted in 2018. Although they are to be run at the same time, the General Assembly decided that the two processes leading to the two global compacts are to be “separate, distinct and independent”.

The migration compact will enhance coordination on international migration and present a framework for comprehensive international cooperation on migrants and human mobility. UNHCR has been asked, in the New York Declaration, to also contribute to this compact and to help in the elaboration of non-binding principles for migrants in vulnerable situations. Issues where UNHCR is contributing include responses to flows of refugees and migrants, the protection of migrants in countries in crisis and other vulnerable situations, and displacement due to climate change and natural disasters.

UNHCR will work closely with various stakeholders on issues of complementarity between the two global compacts (on refugees and migration), particularly in relation to cross-cutting issues such as trafficking and smuggling, rescue at sea, data collection and analysis, and promoting tolerance.

Further information on the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration can be found on the United Nations Refugees and Migrants website.

See also The refugee concept under international law

Leaders’ Summit on Refugees

Following the adoption of the New York Declaration, the UN Secretary-General and seven Member States on 20 September 2016 co-hosted the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees to increase global responsibility sharing for refugees. At the summit, 47 States committed to legal or policy changes to enhance refugees’ access to education, lawful employment and social services, substantially increased humanitarian aid; and expand access to third-country solutions, such through resettlement or complementary pathways.

Further information on commitments can be found here.

Additional resources