On the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration

On the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration

In the space of a few days, two Compacts hailed as watershed moments in the regulation of global migrant and refugee flows have recently been adopted.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration(GCM) focuses on extensive guidelines to ensure accessibility to financial services, social security, etc. in a situation of flux as well as addressing the structural underpinnings of migration. The GCM, officially adopted on 10 December 2018, envisages migration as a choice and not a compulsion, precipitated by adverse factors.

The genesis of these developments lies in the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which was significant for bringing to fore the global ramifications of the then ongoing refugee crisis, which continues today. Countries committing to discussion and a continuous engagement on an international level at the UN General Assembly has since lent more weight to resolving protracted issues and seeking long-lasting solutions. The Declaration called for a comprehensive refugee response framework or CRRF, with a greater focus on shared responsibility between states. It aimed at achieving a more nuanced response regarding inclusion, sustainability, and durability of solutions.

The CRRF’s implementation was to be the basis of the 2018 Global Compact for Refugees (GCR). The UNHCR stresses the distinction of GCR as enabling states to scale their response better, aided in so doing by international cooperation, the need of the hour in the present refugee crisis. By also targeting the drivers of large-scale refugee movements, in compliment to the GCM, both these Compacts fall in line with the 2030 agenda in mitigating circumstances.

The stated objectives of the GCR are to “ease the pressures on host countries, enhance refugee self-reliance, expand access to third-country solutions and support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.” The CRRF is more directed at host states while the GCR brings to the table a more involved attempt by all countries to handle massive flows of refugees at every step. One step is the proposed convening of Global Refugee Forums (ministerial level). Furthermore, development cooperation and harnessing private sector contributions are a means to the end of burden-sharing. It remains to be seen how the implementation of GCR by countries varies and progresses over the next few years. Pilot programs that may succeed in one country may not necessarily be viable in another, willing country. What will result, from these attempts and successes, is a gradual modification of the international refugee regime to include lessons learned. As community backed refugee inclusion gains traction, the GCR is a commendable step taken post discussions with stakeholders beyond the normative state approach- civil society, refugees themselves and host communities.

The Global Refugee Forum took place this month, here are key takeaways.


Written by Emily Ervin for Refugee Pathways

*Refugee Pathways supports both Compacts and envisions a world in which all refugees and migrants can relocate safely, finding protection in a humane and dignified way.