In 2016’s historic New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, all 193 Member States of the United Nations agreed that protecting those who are forced to flee and supporting the countries that shelter them are shared international responsibilities that must be borne more equitably and predictably.

The Declaration gave UNHCR the task of building upon the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), contained in Annex I of the New York Declaration, to develop a ‘global compact on refugees’. After 18 months of extensive consultations with UN Member States, experts, civil society and refugees, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has presented the global compact on refugees as part of his 2018 annual report to the General Assembly.  

The compact is expected to be endorsed by the General Assembly before the end of 2018.

The global compact on refugees aims to strengthen the international response to large movements of refugees and protracted refugee situations. Its four key objectives are to:

  1. Ease the pressures on host countries;
  2. Enhance refugee self-reliance;
  3. Expand access to third-country solutions;
  4. Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.

The New York Declaration has also set in motion a separate, ongoing process for a global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration, to which UNHCR is actively contributing.

What does the global compact on refugees include?

The proposed global compact on refugees has four parts:

  1. An introduction setting out the background, guiding principles and objectives of the global compact.
  2. The Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), as agreed to by Member States in Annex I of the New York Declaration.
  3. A Programme of Action setting out concrete measures to help meet the objectives of the compact, including:
  • Arrangements to share burdens and responsibilities through a Global Refugee Forum (every four years), national and regional arrangements for specific situations, and tools like funding, partnerships and data gathering and sharing.
  • Areas in need of support, from reception and admission, to meeting needs and supporting communities, to solutions.
  1. Arrangements for follow-up and review, which will primarily be conducted through the Global Refugee Forum every four years, an annual high-level officials meeting (held every two years between forums) and the High Commissioner’s annual report to the General Assembly. Follow-up and review will also include the development of indicators to measure success towards the achievement of the four objectives of the compact.

What are the next steps?

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has presented a compact to the General Assembly that has been developed through an extensive consultation process. It has strong and broad support from the international community.   

The New York Declaration, which set in train the process to develop a compact, envisages that the UN General Assembly will consider the proposed compact in conjunction with its annual resolution on the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. 

The High Commissioner will present the compact to the 3rd Committee of the General Assembly in late October.  The compact is then expected to be endorsed by the full Assembly by the end of 2018.

How was the global compact on refugees developed?

The compact was forged through more than 18 months of intensive discussions with UN Member States, experts, civil society and refugees. This included dedicated thematic discussions as well as formal consultations, and stocktaking at the High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges in December 2017. 

The development of the compact was also based on lessons learned through the application of the CRRF in more than a dozen countries during 2017 and 2018, and by drawing lessons from a wide range of existing and past refugee situations where many of the Framework’s principles already inform policies and programmes. 

Almost five hundred written contributions were also received.

Additional resources

Remarks by the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection