High Commissioner's Dialogue on Protection Challenges, 2014

Protection at Sea

The Dialogue informed implementation of a two-year Global Initiative on Protection at Sea, which aims to support state action to limit loss of life at sea as well as exploitation, abuse and violence. The initiative also seeks to ensure that responses to mixed migration by sea are sensitive to the international protection needs of specific individuals and groups.

The Dialogue brought together delegations from 88 countries, 52 NGOs, and 13 IGOs as well as academics and experts. In total, some 450 people participated, making it the largest Dialogue to date. During the two-day meeting, the heads of UNHCR, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued a joint statement calling upon states to rigorously tackle the root causes of maritime migration, which include lack of access to safe and regular migration channels. The statement said that without credible alternative options to escape desperation, people will continue to risk their lives by making unsafe irregular boat journeys across the high seas.

In a mix of plenary sessions, breakout discussions and regional roundtables, the Dialogue fostered a focused exchange of views on issues such as rescue and disembarkation, addressing the drivers of irregular movements by sea, as well as international cooperation to share burdens and responsibilities, particularly at regional level. The outcomes of the Dialogue are summarized in High Commissioner Refugees Antonio Guterres's closing remarks as well as the reports of the breakout sessions, delivered in the final plenary session. The outcomes can be accessed on this page. UNHCR will, in 2015, present a work programme to it governing body to follow-up on the main recommendations.

High Commissioner's Closing Remarks, 11 December 2014

Administration Statements by High Commissioner

Reports of the Breakout sessions

Refugee ProtectionHigh Commissioner's Dialogue

List of participants

Refugee ProtectionHigh Commissioner's Dialogue

Opening Panel on "Boat People in the twenty-first Century"

UNHCR: Looking for Safe Shores

Malta: Dying at Europe's doorstep

Italy: Desperate Rescue at Sea

Italy: Haunted by a Sinking Ship