SIMN and CMS Statement on the Outcome Document for UN Summit on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants

Statement of Center for Migration Studies and the Scalabrini International Migration Network on the Outcome Document for UN Summit on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants

August 3, 2016

The outcome document approved by member states today falls short of creating a new framework for the protection of refugees and migrants around the world. Instead, it reaffirms the status quo, and, in some areas, weakens current protections for these vulnerable populations.

We are particularly troubled by paragraph 2.3 of the declaration, which gives sanction for nations to cooperate on deterrence and interdiction initiatives to stem the migration of refugees and migrants without committing to their protection. If you externalize border enforcement, you must externalize protection measures.

We also find problematic paragraph 2.12, which allows for and presumes the detention of children. Detention is never in the best interest of the child.

We are disappointed that the member states have delayed the adoption of a Global Compact for Refugees for two years. Our world is currently experiencing refugee crises in all corners of the globe; the global community cannot wait longer for concrete action marked by equitable responsibility-sharing. While we commend member states for aiming to meet UNHCR’s annual targets for the resettlement of vulnerable groups in 4.15 of the declaration, we urge them to work on a concrete plan as soon as possible to meet this goal.

It is our hope that the September 20 meeting of some member states will result in more concrete and specific commitments toward the goal of alleviating the suffering of, empowering, and substantially expanding safe and permanent solutions for refugees and migrants around the world. We also urge that member states adopt an operational framework for the adoption of a Global Compact for Refugees and a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration as soon as possible.

We applaud the commitment of member states to defeat xenophobia around the world, a vital goal. However, we regret that there is no explicit statement in the document rejecting the libelous claim that refugees present a threat to potential host communities, a charge made by some around the world to fan the flames of fear and xenophobia and to undermine refugee protection efforts.

Despite these reservations, we view the adoption of the declaration as a first step in expanding the efforts of the global community in humanely addressing the challenge of large movements of refugees and migrants.

We plan to work with member states and interested parties to improve protection efforts around the world and to generate new models for cooperation and responsibility sharing. The Center for Migration Studies recently held a conference entitled “Rethinking the Global Refugee Protection System,” which looked at new frameworks for global refugee protection. Papers from the conference will be released as they become available.

We thank the co-facilitators for their hard work during the drafting process.