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Opening Remarks to the Second formal consultation on the global compact on refugees

Speeches and statements

Opening Remarks to the Second formal consultation on the global compact on refugees

20 March 2018


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for joining us today as we continue our discussion on the global compact on refugees. Following our fruitful and constructive consultations on the zero draft of the global compact last month, we have carefully listened to and considered the guidance, comments, and suggestions that you have shared with us both through your statements and in writing. We have now sought to present a first draft which both captures and reconciles the differing perspectives that you have expressed, and which – we hope – brings us closer to consensus.

To start this discussion, I would like to highlight some of the main changes that have been made since we shared the zero draft with you.

First, we have strengthened the focus on global responsibility sharing in the first draft. It is explicitly recognized [in para 6] that the global compact is non-binding. At the same time, the compact calls for all States and relevant stakeholders to contribute to achieving its goals according to their respective resources, capacities, and expertise [para 6]. It is noted that a key purpose of the compact is to widen the support base beyond those countries that have historically contributed to the refugee cause through hosting refugees or other means [para 2].

To achieve this, most importantly, we have proposed the establishment of stronger mechanisms for burden- and responsibility-sharing between all UN Member States, together with other stakeholders, in support of refugees and their host countries and communities. As requested, we have also developed and circulated a ‘flowchart’ to indicate how it is envisioned that these mechanisms could work – both in response to a specific refugee situation, and in relationship to each other. The flowchart is also on the screen. The mechanisms that we propose entail action at different levels. Some elements of these mechanisms were already included in the zero draft, but we have sought to elaborate upon them further in this iteration.

The first level is a global mechanism for mobilizing international cooperation, involving concrete and mutually reinforcing pledges towards the achievement of the goals of the global compact. These pledges will be made by all UN Member States and other stakeholders through regular global refugee summits at the ministerial level. The first summit is envisaged to take place in 2019; and the second in 2021. Summits would then be held every three years thereafter. From 2021, the global refugee summits would also allow us to review and take stock of implementation of pledges and contributions, as well as progress towards the achievement of the goals of the global compact. This would help to ensure accountability.

The second level involves region- or country-specific mechanisms for burden- and responsibility-sharing in specific mass influx or protracted refugee situations. This would encompass national arrangements, regional approaches, and activation of a Global Support Platform. Such a platform would be created as needed and configured according to each refugee situation. It would mobilize and support the development of situation-specific compacts [e.g. building on the “MIRPs” model in the Americas region]. It would also, as necessary, organize solidarity conferences [e.g. building on the London or Brussels conferences model for supporting Syria and the region, held in February 2016], and could further draw on some of the contributions made during the global refugee summits.

It is envisaged that pledges made by States and others will be guided by the “areas in need of support” identified in Part B of the programme of action. Pledges for either the global refugee summits or specific refugee situations could include: funding; material and technical assistance (such as standby arrangements); resettlement places and other pathways for admission; and support for countries of origin to establish the conditions for voluntary return. Pledges by host countries and countries of origin that could be matched by contributions from the international community would also be encouraged.

In addition to mechanisms that are global and situation-specific, we have underscored a number of other key tools that underpin responsibility sharing and would inform both these mechanisms and the kinds of pledges needed, including: funding; a multi-stakeholder approach; and better data and evidence.

On a related note, the second key change that you will see in the current draft of the global compact is more explicit reference to ongoing work on measuring the costs and impact of hosting refugees as a tool to inform burden- and responsibility-sharing mechanisms. This is in line with the request made to UNHCR in the 2017 Omnibus resolution [para 20] adopted by the General Assembly, and was reiterated by many of you at the first formal consultations in February.

The third change is greater emphasis on the compact being grounded in the international refugee protection regime, with references to the 1951 Convention, its 1967 Protocol, regional instruments, the principle of non-refoulement, and article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights now included in the text [para 4]. The compact builds on this existing body of law and practice, and draws upon experience gained through operational engagement in comprehensive responses to address a “perennial gap” – the need for more equitable and predictable burden- and responsibility-sharing. It does so by providing a framework for cooperation among all UN Member States and other stakeholders.

The fourth change is that the goals of the global compact have been set out clearly in paragraph 5. They are: (1) an improved system of burden- and responsibility-sharing; (2) strengthened national protection systems and response capacities; (3) enhanced socioeconomic conditions for refugees and host communities, notably women and girls; and (4) greater efforts to resolve protracted situations and find durable solutions.

Related to this, you will see [in para 91] that UNHCR undertakes to develop key indicators by 2019 to track progress towards the achievement of these goals. The indicators will be developed in close consultation with you, and will take the sustainable development goals into account.

The fifth significant change is a stronger emphasis on prevention and addressing root causes of refugee movements [paras 8-9]. States and other stakeholders are called on to cooperate to tackle these challenges. The global compact is humanitarian and non-political in nature and outlook. At the same time, it must be resolutely linked to ongoing efforts, including within the UN, in the areas of prevention, peace, security, development, and peacebuilding. This is now clearly acknowledged in the current draft.

Finally, Part B of the first draft of the global compact, which will be discussed in detail at the formal consultations in April, has been adjusted to take into account your feedback. It includes new subsections on statelessness and food security and nutrition, and a strengthened section on gender. It proposes the development of a three-year strategy to broaden the number of countries providing resettlement and other pathways for admission. It further provides a clearer set of actions to bolster support to countries of origin to create the conditions for voluntary return, where this is appropriate. On local integration, it now contains consensus language from UNHCR ExCom conclusions [no 104, 2005] to highlight that this is an option to be exercised by States, while also seeking to strengthen the types of support that the international community can provide to States who choose to offer this solution.

More generally, we have clarified that the measures set out in part B are not intended to create new burdens for host countries, but rather represent priority areas where the international community would pledge its support to refugees, host countries, and communities. As I have already mentioned, this support would be reinforced through the mechanisms for burden- and responsibility-sharing laid out in the first draft.

Some elements of this draft of the global compact will obviously require more discussion, and we are looking forward to a rich dialogue over the next two days. This will greatly assist us in moving towards a consensus document.

Thank you.