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Thematic discussions

Date: 10 July 2017 - 15 November 2017

Thematic discussions

“We are building on a very solid foundation of international law, of international standards and practices. We want to go beyond what already exists and address a very specific gap which is to better define international cooperation to share responsibilities.”

Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Volker Türk
Public event
Volker Türk, UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, participates in the dialogue at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR convened five thematic discussions in the second half of 2017 to consider and generate ideas to be included in the programme of action for the Global Compact on Refugees. The meetings were held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Member States and other stakeholders were invited to make written contributions to the process.

Past and current examples of burden- and responsibility-sharing (10 July 2017)

Thematic discussion one focused on one of the most critical issues the New York Declaration, in which 193 states made a milestone commitment to ‘a more equitable sharing of the burden and responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees’. The meeting examined elements of past and present examples which have been most effective in protecting refugees and sharing responsibilities more equitably among States.

Relevant resources

Side event

At a dialogue about sharing responsibility for refugees, stakeholders reflect on responses to earlier crises in Kosovo*, Guatemala and Viet Nam.

Switzerland. Towards a Global Compact on Refugees - Thematic discussion I

UNHCR protection chief Volker Türk tells stakeholders at a Geneva conference that rhetoric on responsibility sharing for refugees needs to be put into practice.

Large refugee movements, meeting needs and supporting communities (17-18 October 2017)

Thematic discussion two explored measures to be taken at the onset of a large movement of refugees, including the elements set out in the "Reception and admission" pillar of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). In addition, thematic discussion three addressed possible avenues for meeting needs and supporting communities, including the “Support for immediate and ongoing needs” and “Support for host countries and communities” pillars of the CRRF. In that sense, the two discussions covered a range of topics to be addressed in the compact’s programme of action to ensure that hosting countries have the adequate structures and support to prevent and respond to large refugee movements, including through predictable funding and capacity building.

Relevant resources

Individual summaries and video recordings for thematic discussion two:

Individual summaries and video recordings for thematic discussion three:

Side events

Jordan. New deal on work permits boosts Syrian refugees

Syrians can now apply for jobs in certain sectors, such as agriculture, construction, textiles and food.

Uganda. CRRF mobile phone connectivity in Bidibidi settlement

Agreements with telecoms operators are helping South Sudanese families in the world's biggest refugee settlement connect with essential services.

Uganda. South Sudanese Refugees

Türk calls for long-term improvements in the lives of the displaced and their hosts.

Solutions and cross-cutting issues (14-15 November 2017)

Thematic discussion four focused on measures to be taken in pursuit of solutions, in accordance with the final pillar of the CRRF. Among other topics, this was an opportunity to explore ways through which States can ensure voluntary and sustainable return, expand access to resettlement, provide complementary pathways for admission and improve local solutions in hosting communities. Thematic discussion five then covered issues that cut across all four substantive sections of the comprehensive refugee response framework, and overarching issues. This last discussion addressed cross-cutting issues such as the root causes of large refugee movements, the importance of a whole-of-society response to address these movements and protracted situations, as well as the role of regional institutions towards the establishment of comprehensive refugee responses.

Relevant resources

Individual summaries and video recordings for thematic discussion four:

Individual summaries and video recordings for thematic discussion five:

Side event

Argentina is among a group of countries in South America that have agreed to accept more resettled refugees.

UNHCR holds talks on how to share responsibility more fairly, as part of a process to draw up a global compact on refugees.