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New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants

New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants

“The New York Declaration marks a political commitment of unprecedented force and resonance. It fills what has been a perennial gap in the international protection system – that of truly sharing responsibility for refugees.”

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi

On September 19, 2016, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The New York Declaration reaffirms the importance of the international refugee regime and contains a wide range of commitments by Member States to strengthen and enhance mechanisms to protect people on the move. It has paved the way for the adoption of two new global compacts in 2018: a global compact on refugees and a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

In adopting the New York Declaration, Member States:

  • expressed profound solidarity with those who are forced to flee;
  • reaffirmed their obligations to fully respect the human rights of refugees and migrants;
  • agreed that protecting refugees and supporting the countries that shelter them are shared international responsibilities and must be borne more equitably and predictably;
  • pledged robust support to those countries affected by large movements of refugees and migrants;
  • agreed upon the core elements of a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework; and
  • agreed to work towards the adoption of a global compact on refugees and a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

Further information on the New York Declaration can be found in the documents under ‘Additional resources’ below.

The Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework

The New York Declaration sets out the key elements of a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) to be applied to large-scale movements of refugees and protracted refugee situations. The CRRF focuses on the importance of supporting those countries and communities that host large number of refugees, promoting the inclusion of refugees in host communities, ensuring the involvement of development actors from an early stage, and developing a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to refugee responses. Its four key objectives are to:

  1. Ease the pressures on host countries and communities;
  2. Enhance refugee self-reliance;
  3. Expand third-country solutions; and
  4. Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.

Since the Declaration was adopted, UNHCR has been working with States and all other relevant stakeholders to develop and initiate the practical application of the CRRF in a number of countries. As of February 2018, the CRRF is formally applied in a dozen countries, including two regional contexts in Africa and Central America.

For further information on the CRRF and its application to particular refugee situations, see Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework: Delivering more comprehensive and predictable responses for refugees.

The Global Compact on Refugees

In addition to setting out the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, the New York Declaration calls upon the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to propose a ‘global compact on refugees’ in his annual report to the United Nations General Assembly in 2018. The global compact on refugees, the first draft of which was released at the end of January 2018 and will undergo formal consultations with Member States until July 2018, builds on the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and sets out practical measures that can be taken by a wide range of stakeholders to enhance international cooperation in response to large movements of refugees and protracted refugee situations, and to ensure a more equitable and predictable sharing of the burden and responsibility for providing protection to refugees.

For further information, please see Towards a global compact on refugees.

The Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration

The New York Declaration also provides for the negotiation of a global, compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, which is to be adopted in 2018. Although they are to be run at the same time, the General Assembly has directed that the two processes leading to the two global compacts are to be “separate, distinct and independent”.

The migration compact will enhance coordination on international migration and present a framework for comprehensive international cooperation on migrants and human mobility. UNHCR has been asked, in the New York Declaration, to also contribute to this process and to help in the elaboration of non-binding principles for migrants in vulnerable situations. Issues where UNHCR is contributing include responses to flows of refugees and migrants, the protection of migrants in countries in crisis and other vulnerable situations, and displacement due to climate change and natural disasters.

UNHCR has been working closely with various stakeholders on issues of complementarity between the two global compacts, particularly in relation to cross-cutting issues relating to both refugees and migrants such as trafficking and smuggling, rescue at sea, data collection and analysis, and promoting tolerance.

Further information on the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration can be found on the United Nations Refugees and Migrants website.

In order to support discussions taking place in the context of the migration compact on the distinction between refugees and migrants, UNHCR produced and circulated The refugee concept under international law.

Leaders’ Summit on Refugees

Following the adoption of the New York Declaration, the UN Secretary-General and seven Member States on 20 September 2016 co-hosted the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees to increase global responsibility-sharing for refugees. At the summit, 47 States committed to legal or policy changes to enhance refugees’ access to education, lawful employment and social services; substantially increase humanitarian aid; and expand access to third-country solutions, including through resettlement or complementary pathways.

Additional resources