Opening remarks to the sixth formal consultation on the global compact on refugees
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I join my co-chair in thanking you once again for your presence and engagement in this last round of formal consultations on the global compact on refugees.
We have come a long way since the zero draft was released to you in January. As my co-chair has reminded us, the original draft was itself informed by five thematic discussions, as well as the stocktaking at the High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges, in 2017. This final draft of 26 June is the fifth iterative version of the text. It is based on five previous rounds of consultations and over 500 written contributions, and it proves how much we have benefited from this collective listening exercise, your wise counsel, and your active engagement. It feels like we are growing a solid tree through an organic process.
We hope that this process has allowed us to present to you a text that is balanced; and that it accommodates and reconciles the various views of delegations. It is also worth noting the extent to which your inputs have often converged, in a positive way. We believe the text is stronger and more robust as a result, while remaining practical and implementable.
One synonym for “consensus” is “solidarity”, which is apt – it reminds us of what we are trying to achieve, and the key purpose of the compact as a whole. This final draft does not, and cannot, address each and every concern and the desire of every delegation. But we trust you are able to take ownership of this collective exercise and collective outcome.
The compact, as currently drafted, has the potential to make a real difference in burden and responsibility sharing for refugees and their hosts. The architecture around the Global Refugee Forums and the Support Platforms, in particular – which are now entitled “arrangements” rather than “mechanisms” – provides a basis for host countries and communities to receive support that is timely, predictable, and sustainable. It enables host countries to tap into additional development cooperation, alongside, and as a complement to, ongoing humanitarian assistance. It also ensures that solutions are front and centre from the outset.
The key will, of course, be “implementation, implementation, implementation”. Like my co-chair, I would urge that we use this last round of formal consultations to confirm consensus on the text. Let us not forget that the 2019 Global Refugee Forum will offer the first opportunity for pledges and contributions towards the objectives of the compact. I would further echo that the finalization of the text is not the end, but rather the beginning, of a dynamic process that all of us have embarked upon.
Turning to some of the key text changes, we believe that you will appreciate the rationale for many of them, which reflect the inputs of various delegations, with a view to achieving consensus.
The sections on Global Refugee Forums (paras 17-19) and “follow up and review” (paras 101-107) have seen the most amendment. In order to balance the perspectives we have heard, it is suggested that Global Refugee Forums take place every four years, with the first being held in 2019, and the second in 2023. Forums would be complemented by high-level officials’ meetings to provide “mid-term review” – the first of these will take place in 2021, the second in 2025. This means that, effectively, we will be able to take stock every two years. Annual reporting will also be undertaken by the High Commissioner for Refugees in his regular report to the General Assembly (para 105).
Related to this, we have listened closely to you, and on this basis have reinserted the explicit reference to indicators, to be developed for each of the four objectives of the global compact ahead of the first Global Refugee Forum in 2019 (para 102). We would stress that the purpose of these indicators would be to measure progress towards the achievement of each of the compact’s four objectives and that they would be strategic and straightforward, and we look forward to working with you on this in the lead-up to the first Global Refugee Forum.
In addition, in this draft we have sought to “square the circle” and to move to consensus on a number of other outstanding issues. We have again looked closely at the footnotes and removed or streamlined to the extent possible.
We also trust we have found language that appropriately reflects the purpose of Part III.B, as well as the interrelationship between humanitarian action and development cooperation. The text provides an important basis to move this forward.
We have adjusted slightly para 12 to take into account various views, while noting the very strong support at the last consultations for its content.
Finally, it is recognized that the four objectives of the compact are interlinked and interdependent, and are to be pursued on an equal footing. At the same time, we have sought to ensure that the text captures the essential focus on broadening the base of support for refugee protection and assistance on the one hand, and host countries and communities on the other.
Thank you in advance for your constructive engagement. We are very close to our shared goal to transform our response on behalf of refugees and their hosts. You have UNHCR’s strongest commitment in this regard.
Thank you for your support.