Opening Remarks to the third formal consultation on the global compact on refugees
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Echoing the remarks of my distinguished co-chair, I am pleased to see that so many of you have again joined us today to continue our discussion on the first draft of the global compact on refugees. We appreciate the extremely helpful feedback and suggestions that you provided in March on the introduction, mechanisms for burden- and responsibility-sharing, and follow-up arrangements. Over the next two days, we are looking forward to a rich discussion with you on Part III.B of the text: “Areas in need of support”.
We hope this discussion will take place in the same frank, open, and constructive spirit as our previous consultations, with a view to informing the development of a second draft of the global compact, which moves us closer to consensus.
I would now like to walk us through some of the main changes that have been made to section Part III.B, as compared to the zero draft.
At the outset, let me clarify that this section needs to be read in close connection with Part III.A, the mechanisms for burden- and responsibility-sharing. As highlighted in the text [e.g. paras 17, 43], the purpose of Part III.B is to identify areas where support could be provided to host States – and in some cases, to countries of origin – by other States and relevant stakeholders, as part of a comprehensive response, particularly through the mechanisms outlined in Part III A.
Specifically, we envisage the actions set out in Part III.B as priority areas that would guide the kinds of concrete pledges that could be made at the periodic, ministerial-level global refugee meetings. They would also guide contributions made as part of situation-specific solidarity conferences, where these are convened.
Of course, as the first draft notes, all contributions will be determined by each State and stakeholder according to their resources, capacity, and expertise. But we would hope this section would assist in identifying useful contributions that could be made in line with the CRRF, including material and technical assistance [such as standby arrangements], offers of third-country solutions, and support to countries of origin to enable conditions for voluntary repatriation.
Importantly, the actions set out in this section are not intended to impose additional obligations on host countries, and need to be read in this spirit. The focus is on burden- and responsibility-sharing by other States and relevant stakeholders.
These “relevant stakeholders” will, by their very nature, include a wide range of different partners. Having listened carefully to points made by some of you, let me reassure you that it is all about extending existing partnerships while exploring future ones. Our clear hope in this draft is for a broadening of the support base, across the whole of society at the national level, and also among diverse national, regional, and international stakeholders at the international level.
It is for this reason we have sought in the footnotes of the draft to identify stakeholders who are well-placed to provide support under each action item. We would welcome stakeholders, who have not yet done so, confirming their willingness to contribute to the global compact and to be included in the footnotes or in the text where appropriate. We will also be looking to our partners, including development actors, sister UN agencies, and NGOs, to come forward at the first ministerial meeting in 2019 [and thereafter] to make concrete pledges of support. These would build on existing arrangements and commitments.
Turning to some of the more detailed text changes to Part III.B, these have been informed by your feedback on the zero draft at the first formal consultations and through written contributions.
In Section 1 on reception and admission, we particularly sought to strengthen the subsection on preparedness, contingency planning, and early warning, in line with the emphasis you placed on this as part of a comprehensive response. The need for capacity development for local authorities was a point highlighted by many of you, which we have now reflected – and we have similarly reflected the need for national capacity development in the subsection on registration and documentation. Any further suggestions you may have on how these subsections could be bolstered, building on your own good practices and experiences, are welcome.
In the subsection on safety and security, we have added emphasis on actions to address smuggling and trafficking, as well as sexual and gender-based violence, which were requested by some delegations. Given the focus on the needs of children at risk in the February consultations, we have also strengthened the emphasis on children, particularly unaccompanied and separated children, in subsection 1.5 on addressing specific needs.
The section on identifying international protection needs is intended to be practical and operationally-focused, and to capture the types of support that may be provided to States facing a range of different international protection challenges. This section is meant to keep within existing international refugee law. We have sought here to reflect the practical guidance and support that could be provided by UNHCR and others with relevant expertise to affected States where needed, including through an asylum capacity support group.
In Section 2 on meeting needs and supporting communities, we have sought to focus the chapeau on ensuring coherent and complementary humanitarian and development responses – a point that many of you wish to see enhanced – while avoiding any suggestion of conditionality. We have also introduced two new subsections on statelessness and food security and nutrition respectively. These areas were identified as being of particular importance in the February consultations, and where you wished to see strengthened language.
We heard the call by many of you also to advance considerations of gender. We have done this throughout the text in the first draft, but specifically by bolstering section 2.4 to represent a more holistic set of activities and interventions, focusing on the need to empower women and girls and strengthen their skills and capacities; but also taking into account the particular needs of men and boys.
Turning to Section 3 on solutions: in terms of voluntary repatriation, we have placed the emphasis on the need for increased and sustained support to countries of origin to work towards creating conditions for voluntary and sustainable return. As with the other parts of the draft, the series of actions in this subsection are intended to guide pledges and contributions made by the international community through the mechanisms for burden- and responsibility-sharing in Part III.A. As requested by some delegations, the text explicitly recognizes that voluntary repatriation is not necessarily conditioned on the accomplishment of political solutions in the country of origin, so as not to impede the exercise of the right of refugees to return.
In terms of the third-country solutions of resettlement and other pathways for admission, in addition to encouraging contributions to an overall increase in the available number of places, we have sought, in the first draft, to respond more explicitly to one of the key challenges: the fact that only a small number of States have historically taken part in UNHCR’s resettlement programme.
We have therefore proposed that UNHCR work with traditional resettlement countries to devise a three-year strategy to broaden the number of countries providing resettlement places and, related to this, to work towards increasing the availability and predictability of other pathways for admission within the same timeframe. This three-year benchmark would coincide with the second global refugee meeting in 2021, when we would hope to start measuring some progress towards the achievement of the goals of the global compact. [In this regard, while we have referred to the Emerging Resettlement Countries Joint Support Mechanism, which we see as an important and useful platform, we note that this is currently only in place until September 2019 and that discussions are still ongoing as to its future.]
More generally, the sections on third-country solutions refer to a number of measures that have already been adopted by some States within their resettlement programmes or in terms of other pathways for admission, which we have found to be good practice and would like to encourage as part of the standard global response. This includes, for example, multi-year resettlement schemes and the setting aside of 10 per cent of resettlement places as unallocated places for emergency cases identified by UNHCR. In the case of other pathways, it encompasses expanding the criteria for family reunification to include extended family members who would not otherwise be eligible under existing mechanisms.
Finally, in response to feedback from the first formal consultations, the subsection on local integration now contains consensus language from UNHCR Executive Committee conclusions [particularly no. 104 of 2005] to reiterate that this is an option to be exercised by States. At the same time, we have also sought to bolster and diversify the types of support that the international community can provide to States who choose to offer this solution.
We are looking forward to a rich dialogue over the next two days and welcome in advance your constructive engagement and good will as we work together in refining the text. We will, as always, be taking very careful note of your feedback and concrete suggestions on how to enhance the draft in the hopes of moving closer to a final product in its next iteration.