Those with lived refugee experience – whether still in displacement, resettled, or returned – offer necessary perspectives to inform smart, practical, and sustainable programs. The first-ever Global Refugee Forum (GRF) in December 2019 will serve as a clear litmus test of international commitment to refugee participation under the framework of the Global Compact on Refugees.
Some 164 countries signed on to a non-binding Global Compact for Migration this week, enshrining some commonly accepted migration policies that are likely to come in handy as ever greater numbers of people leave their home countries behind in search of a better life.
“What we ultimately got out of the text is a floor, not a ceiling.”
Alice Thomas is a program manager for Refugees International.
“It’s the first time you have in one document a 360-degree view of migration and a set of best practices for states working collaboratively to achieve safer, regular, orderly migration.”
Some of the compact’s 23 goals include ending “migration detention unless as a last resort,” eliminating discrimination against migrants and stopping the “allocation of public funding or material support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance.”
While the compact is clearly and purposefully non-binding, the U.S. boycotted it anyway, and perhaps that’s no surprise. The U.S. has been widely criticized for detaining migrants (even going as far as to separate migrant children from their parents) and President Trump himself has repeatedly turned public sentiment against migrants, even peddling the debunked theory that they pose health risks to the U.S.
Non-binding or not, Thomas hopes one of the compact’s goals to collect more data on migration will ultimately help countries with good migration policy to stand out from the pack.
“To say that best practices are going to drive you to do something that’s going to call you out in some fashion – well yeah, maybe it’s going to mean that you’re not following the best practices for migration. But the whole idea that the international community needs to work together to try to deal with this phenomena.”
That cooperation is urgently needed. According to the U.N., the number of international migrants has increased from around 100 million people 30 years ago to more than 250 million now, and that trend shows little signs of stopping.
The Global Compact for Migration will only be effective if countries move forward with its implementation. However, what is important is that the compact’s 23 objectives embody a comprehensive set of best practices for managing migration in a safe, orderly manner which requires the cooperation of countries of origin, transit and destination.
The adoption of the Compact is a historic achievement, as it represents a comprehensive framework for multilateral cooperation on international migration. It has the real potential to make a positive impact on the lives of millions of our fellow human beings who move in search of a life of dignity and security for themselves and their families.
Over 180 countries are endorsing what is known as the Global Compact for Migration. The text of this non-binding agreement was finalized over the summer, and countries are meeting in Marrakech, Morocco on December 10th and 11th to formally launch the Compact.
There is a great deal of misinformation being spread, mostly by right wing governments in Europe in the US, about what this agreement entails.
This agreement is not a treaty. Rather, it is an agreed set of principles and creates a kind of platform for multilateral and bilateral cooperation around issues of international migration.
On the line to explain the Global Compact for Migration, better known around the UN as the “GCM” is Alice Thomas of Refugees International. I caught up with Alice Thomas from Marrakech where she was participating in civil society forums around the Compact. We discuss both the content of the Compact and its potential impact on destination countries, origin countries and migrants themselves. We also discuss the impact of the non-participation of a few countries in this compact, including the United States and some countries in Europe.
If you have 20 minutes and want to a primer on the Global Compact For Migration, have a listen –>
The nations that are attending the Inter-governmental Conference on Migration in Morocco and the UN climate change negotiations in Poland clearly understand what the current U.S. administration does not (or doesn’t want to): Meeting the challenges of international migration and climate change is not a zero-sum game. Refusing to join cooperative efforts to find joint solutions does not make your own problems better, but worse.
As the number of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in desperate situations worldwide reaches historic levels, no nation alone can respond effectively to the challenge this presents. But two new agreements, the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration, are historic efforts to seek international cooperation. Alice Thomas and Mark Yarnell outline some of the key achievements of the compacts and make recommendations for moving them forward.
Refugees International joined CARE International, Plan International, the UNSW Forced Migration Network, and the Women’s Refugee Commission in suggesting the following changes to the third draft of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) related to women and girls ahead of the fifth round of consultations on June 12-13, 2018 in Geneva.
Refugees International is calling on the United Nations to address climate change-related human mobility in the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, and include protections for persons moving in the context of climate change-related adverse effects, including both sudden- and slow-onset hazards.
One year ago today, the Trump administration made its ill-advised decision to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris Climate Accord. The decision effectively sidelined the United States on this critical issue, moving the country from a position of international leadership. One year later, the world is moving forward to tackle the climate crisis and related displacement issues.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million people gathered across America marking the first Earth Day and the advent of a global environmental movement. Since then, the United States and other countries have adopted vital international agreements and national laws to better protect our planet. But in 2018, does Earth Day need a make-over? Nearly a half century later, the world faces a new threat that will have far more serious implications not just for the Earth but for human beings as well: climate change.
This Refugees International issue brief examines the key tasks for the United Nations and its member states to establish a robust Global Compact for Refugees with governance mechanisms that can actually mobilize political leadership and engagement among both donor and host states that results in tangibly improved refugee response efforts.
As UN member states meet to discuss the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees, it is essential that they consider the specific needs of individuals impacted by natural disasters and the adverse effects of climate change. Those moving across international borders in the context of disasters and climate change do not always fall neatly within existing definitions of refugees and migrants, leaving the most vulnerable individuals without sufficient protection and at risk of human rights violations.
With the upcoming discussions on the Global Compact on Refugees in Geneva next week, Refugees International examines both the refugees compact and the Global Compact on Migration. In this new issue brief, we examine the strength of the compacts and offer suggestions to better secure the rights and protections for refugees and migrants.