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30th Commemorative Anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees

30th Commemorative Anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees

In December 2014, Governments of Latin America and the Caribbean met in Brasilia on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees – a landmark regional refugee instrument that broadened the refugee definition for Latin America and proposed new approaches to the humanitarian needs of refugees and displaced with a spirit of solidarity and cooperation.

The Ministerial Meeting, hosted by the Government of Brazil, culminated a year-long commemorative process known as Cartagena +30, which included four sub-regional consultations with governments, international and regional organizations, Ombudsman offices and the civil society, including the academia. These preparatory meetings were held in Buenos Aires, Argentina (on 18 and 19 March) for the countries of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR); in Quito, Ecuador (on 9 and 10 June) for the Andean countries; in Managua, Nicaragua (on 10 and 11 July) for the countries of Mesoamerica; and in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (on 10 and 11 September) for the Caribbean region.

At the closing of the Ministerial Meeting, 28 countries and three territories of Latin America and the Caribbean (Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uruguay and Venezuela) adopted by acclamation the Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action, agreeing to work together to uphold the highest international and regional protection standards, implement innovative solutions for refugees and displaced persons and end the plight of stateless persons in the region.

The Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action maintain that same visionary spirit and high level of aspiration in devising a new regional framework for the coming decade, acknowledging the new realities in Latin America and the Caribbean forcing people to flee and seek protection. Their wording reflect the commitment of the Governments of Latin America and the Caribbean to address humanely the needs of the most vulnerable, as well as the values and contributions of the region's vibrant civil society supported by the Norwegian Refugee Council, who co-organized the Cartagena +30 process together with UNHCR.

Brazil Plan of Action – One year of Implementation

Virtually all states and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean, along with a significant number of civil society organizations, participated in the Cartagena+30 commemorations. This provided an opportunity to take stock of ongoing challenges and new opportunities to protect refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced and stateless people in the region.

Celebrating the principles of cooperation and solidarity, participants agreed on areas for intervention and specific programmes to further strengthen protection standards and foster comprehensive solutions in the region. This consultative process resulted in a renewed commitment to making positive change in the lives of millions of forcibly displaced and stateless people, with participants adopting the Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action (BPA) on 3 December 2014. One year on, significant achievements have been made in the following chapters of the BPA:

  • The international protection of refugees and asylum-seekers and the consolidation of a common asylum space
  • Comprehensive, Complementary and Sustainable Solutions
  • Solidarity with the Northern Triangle of Central America in seeking and implementing durable solutions
  • Regional solidarity with the Caribbean for a comprehensive response on international protection and durable solutions
  • Eradicating statelessness
  • Enhancing regional cooperation