Countries Finalise Declaration on Refugees, Migrants

large5 August 2016: UN Member States have finalised negotiations on the outcome document to be adopted at the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) High-level Meeting on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants (HLM), which will take place on 19 September 2016. The agreed text takes the form of a declaration, which includes annexes outlining areas of agreement and next steps both on a ‘Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework’ and on a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration. The negotiations on the outcome of the HLM were led by co-facilitators David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland, and Dina Kawar, Permanent Representative of Jordan.


Following the meeting where governments reached agreement, on 2 August 2016, UNGA President Mogens Lykketoft advised Member States, in a letter on 5 August, that he will convene a plenary meeting in early September to take action on a draft resolution “of a procedural nature” to transmit the draft outcome document to the UNGA’s 71st session, for consideration and adoption during the opening of the HLM.

The draft outcome document defines “large movements” of migrants and refugees as referring to conditions that include large numbers of arrivals as well as other conditions, such as sudden or prolonged movements of people. The text highlights Member States’ determination to address the root causes of such movements, through preventive diplomacy and other actions to prevent crisis situations.

The outcome document expresses commitment to realising the full potential of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for refugees and migrants, and requests the UN Secretary-General to put in place a system of periodic assessments of progress made on commitments emerging from the High-Level Meeting. It also commits to launching, in 2016, a procession of intergovernmental negotiations leading to the adoption of a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration at an intergovernmental conference in 2018.

Finally, the document emphasizes the need for a comprehensive refugee response framework, drawing attention to the annex document as embodying such a framework. The proposed Framework outlines recommended actions with regard to: reception and admission of migrants and refugees; support for immediate and ongoing needs; and support for host countries and communities. The Framework states that actions should aim at durable solutions, which include: voluntary repatriation; local solutions and resettlement and complementary pathways for admission.

Following the HLM, US President Barack Obama will host a Leaders’ Summit on Refugees on 20 July, also in New York, which will seek further commitments from governments on refugee needs. In the HLM outcome documents, Member States would “note the high-level meeting on refugees which the United States, Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico, Sweden and the Secretary General will host on 20 September 2016.”

On 30 July, the UN commemorated World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon drew attention to the vulnerability of migrants and refugees to exploitation by human traffickers. He called on countries to: govern migration in a safe and rights-based way; create sufficient and accessible pathways for the entry of migrants and refugees; and tackle the root causes of conflicts, extreme poverty, environmental degradation and other crises that force people across borders, seas and deserts. Ban noted that the HLM will seek to renew commitment to greater efforts to combat human trafficking and smuggling of migrants and refugees, ensure protection and assistance for victims, and promote respect for international law, standards and frameworks. He urged all States to adopt and implement the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime and its protocol on human trafficking as well as all core human rights instruments.

The HLM aims, among other goals, to win renewed commitment for intensified efforts to combat human trafficking and smuggling of migrants and refugees, ensure protection and assistance for the victims of trafficking and of abusive smuggling, as well as all those who suffer human rights violations and abuse in the course of large movements, and promote respect for international law, standards and frameworks. [UNGA President’s Letter on Agreed Text] [HLM Website] [HLM Twitter Feed] [UN Secretary-General’s Message]

 

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