Global Compact on Refugees: Establishing Effective Mechanisms for Responsibility-Sharing

This Refugees International issue brief examines the current process to draft and adopt a Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). Since releasing an initial draft of the Compact in January, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has convened three rounds of formal consultations in Geneva among UN member states. Three additional rounds are scheduled before the text is to be finalized in advance of the UN General Assembly in September 2018.

While the text of the Compact has become more detailed and prescriptive through the consultation process, a critical tension remains unresolved: The objective of the Compact is to promote a more comprehensive, predictable, and equitable response to large-scale refugee situations that will lead to tangible benefits for refugees and host communities alike. However, every element of the Compact is explicitly voluntary and non-binding.

The objective of the Compact is to promote a more comprehensive, predictable, and equitable response to large-scale refugee situations that will lead to tangible benefits for refugees and host communities alike. 

The issue brief concludes that the key task for UNHCR and the UN member states is to establish governance mechanisms within the GCR that can actually mobilize political leadership and engagement among both donor and host states that results in tangibly improved refugee response efforts. This issue brief presents recommendations on the two of the currently proposed mechanisms to help achieve that objective – the convening of regular global refugee summits and the establishment of a Global Support Platform.ii iii