When the New York Declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016 two new documents were envisaged – the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact and the Global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.
The UN member states have pledged to uphold the principles of human rights and migrants protection regardless of their legal status, that they should have access to education a few months from arrival, prevention and punishment of sexual and gender based violence, support to countries that host the largest number of refugees, work on ending child detention for status determination purposes, condemnation of xenophobia against refugees and migrants and support to campaign against such phenomenons, strengthening positive contributions that migrants give to the economic and social development of countries where they live and work and improvement of humanitarian aid and financial support to countries that are most affected. The Declaration annex also contains the Comprehensive refugee response framework that will be implemented by the UNHCR.
The UNHCR published a first draft of the Global compact for refugees in January 2018. The so called ‘Zero draft’ is divided on Comprehensive refugee response framework (CRRF) and the Programme of action which includes principal modalities for burden and responsibility sharing, support for the application of the CRRF through reception and admission, meeting the needs and supporting communities and solutions such as voluntary repatriation, resettlement and local solutions. In follow-up arrangements the UNHCR is tasked with mobilizing the international community to implement the Global compact for refugees.
The compact hopes to bring in a broader array of stakeholders to help host countries manage the refugee response, including the private sector, development agencies and financial institutions, alongside refugees themselves. It moves away from past practices where refugees lived in camps receiving parallel services to investing in national health and education systems so receiving communities benefit alongside the refugees who live amongst them.
The draft refugee compact will be discussed in a series of formal consultations with UN Member States at the Palais des Nations in Geneva between February and July 2018. NGOs and other stakeholders will have observer status. The expected outcome is a non-binding document, reflecting consensus among UN Member States. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees will present a proposed draft compact in his 2018 report to the UN General Assembly at the end of 2018.
During January a draft of the Global compact on migration was also adopted, however it has proven to be more controversial. The US pulled out of the Global compact on migration saying that the plan for more humane strategy is incompatible with US sovereignty. In the UN report on migration it was noted that globally, migration remains poorly managed. The impact can be seen in the humanitarian crises affecting people on the move; and in the human rights violations suffered by those living in slavery or enduring degrading working conditions. It can be seen, too, in the political impact of public perception that wrongly sees migration as out of control. The first draft has 22 objectives and dozens more actionable commitments.