UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants: Nothing to celebrate | Destination Unknown

16 Sep 2016
Destination Unknown


CSOs call on the UN Summit for a change with commitments

At the High Level Summit (HLS) of the UN General Assembly on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants, which will take place in New York on 19th September 2016, the Heads of State and Government and High Representatives will adopt the Political declaration so called “New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants”.*

At the UN Summit Ignacio Packer will represent Terre des Hommes which once again calls for the inclusion of the Recommended Principles in the discussion of the HLS to ensure that the human rights of all children on the move, as children first and foremost, are at the forefront:

 “The real and immediate test is whether the Summit will be able to make a difference on the ground for the millions of refugees, migrants and internally displaced people. The sense of urgency is not reflected in this Declaration”.

The outcome document has not fulfilled the high expectations of the civil society organizations (CSOs) towards this historic event, a missed opportunity.

It is true that it will include commitments to protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of status, to implement a global campaign, with national support, to counter xenophobia, to develop by 2018 of a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, to a more equitable sharing of responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees.

However, it is “nowhere near enough”, laments the joint statement signed by CSOs advocating for the rights of refugees and migrants in all countries of the world ahead of the HLS: many of the 90 paragraphs of the Declaration are not commitments at all, but mere “considerations” to be applied “as appropriate” and this undermines established fundamental human rights standards, highlights the joint statement.

To make a real change, CSOs call on States to commit to uphold the rights and improve the protection and support of the millions of refugees, migrants and internally displaced people in the world.

Seven main actions are urged to be taken and they include, among others:

  • The provision of safe and regular pathways for refugees and for migrants at all skill levels with full rights and family reunification
  • The end of the detention of children
  • The access to protection services and quality education for all refugee and migrant children
  • The development and implementation of gender and age-sensitive guidelines to protect migrants in vulnerable situations at International Borders
  • The implementation of policies and campaigns to counter xenophobia, discrimination and racism

These actions/commitments meet and support the Recommended Principles developed at an expert meeting in Geneva on 12 May 2016 to guide governments, NGOs and other stakeholders in actions concerning children on the move and other children affected by migration.

The 19th Septemebr Summit will be webcast live and available for later viewing in the UN Web TV archive.

* On 9 September, UN Member States approved the outcome document that they had produced on 2 August, after two months of negotiations, for the 19 September UNGA Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugee and Migrants. Comprising the 2 August Political Declaration and its two annexes (the first, a Comprehensive refugee response framework; the second, Towards a global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration), it has been renamed the New York Declaration and transmitted as draft resolution A/70/L.61 to the 71st session of the UN General Assembly for action during the Summit.


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