The Global Compact on Refugees

“We commit to a more equitable sharing of the burden and responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees.”


United Nations General Assembly, New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, 19 September 2016


In December 2018, member states of the United Nations have forged the Global Compact on Refugees, a historic deal to forge a stronger, fairer response to large refugee movements and situations of prolonged displacement.

What is the Global Compact on Refugees?

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 presented the global compact on refugees as part of his 2018 annual report to the General Assembly.

The Compact was affirmed by the member states of the UN General Assembly on 17 December 2018 in the annual resolution on the work of UNHCR.

The Philippines is among the nations that endorsed the compact, a blueprint that calls for greater support for refugees and the countries that welcome them. It also aims to help refugees become more self-reliant so that they can contribute more to their own future and to that of their host communities.

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 also set in motion a separate process for a global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration, to which UNHCR actively contributed. The migration compact was adopted at an intergovernmental conference in Marrakech on 11 December 2018.

What does the Global Compact on refugees include?

The 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.

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 High Commissioner