UN talks under way to agree a Global Compact on Refugees by 2018
Just one week left before game-changing proposal is finalised ahead of September Summit
A strong outcome would give fresh hope to 20 million refugees worldwide
States risk historic failure by sacrificing refugees’ rights for national self-interest
With just under a week to go, a group of unlikely bedfellows including Australia, China, Egypt, India, Russia, Pakistan and the UK, among others, risk bulldozing the only worldwide effort under way to provide concrete action to deal with the global refugee crisis affecting 20 million people, warned Amnesty International today.
By the end of July, United Nations (UN) member states meeting in New York plan to finalise the text of an agreement towards a Global Compact on Refugees to tackle the current crisis and deal with similar emergencies in future. In the coming days, states have a final chance to change their positions before an outcome document is finalised for adoption at a UN Summit in September.
“As time runs out to finalise what could and should be a game-changing agreement, so much hangs in the balance. Millions of refugees around the world are in desperate need – 86% live in low and middle-income countries often ill-equipped to host them, while many of the world’s wealthiest states host the fewest and do the least. This situation is inherently unfair.
With more than 150 heads of state and government due to gather at the UN in September to lay the foundations for a new global framework to address this refugee crisis, we should be on the cusp of a historic breakthrough. What looms instead is possibly a shameful historic failure, with some states sacrificing refugees’ rights for selfish national interests. But there is still time to step back from the precipice. Together with our millions of supporters around the world, Amnesty International will let our leaders know we won’t accept failure,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland.
What looms instead is possibly a shameful historic failure, with some states sacrificing refugees’ rights for selfish national interests.Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland.
A cornerstone of the new deal is global responsibility sharing – no country should have to take on more than its fair share and all states should recognise their common legally binding responsibilities to fulfill the human rights of people who have been forced to leave their homes due to war or persecution. But instead of responsibility sharing many states are continuing to indulge in short-sighted, and ultimately self-defeating, responsibility shifting.
Amnesty International has proposed a five-point plan for UN member states to share responsibility for hosting and assisting refugees equitably – according to their GDP, unemployment and other objective criteria.
However, governments appear to be on the cusp of rejecting the summit’s responsibility-sharing aims for a variety of reasons. Even the phrase “responsibility-sharing” is in jeopardy. And the Compact on refugees will now be deferred for two years because some states insist on giving it absolute parity with a Compact on migration. All these excuses boil down to a lack of political will; a willingness to tolerate the entirely preventable suffering of millions of people, to keep building fences and to carry on with business as usual.
“The time for business as usual is over. With wealthy countries not doing nearly enough to host and assist refugees, the responsibility-sharing at the root of the Global Compact is an idea whose time has come. Rich and influential countries must stop making excuses and pull their weight. The international community has come together in the past to respond to refugee crises and the UN has in recent times agreed solutions to equally wide-ranging global challenges. A concrete mechanism to share responsibility could save millions from misery and death by drowning or disease, offering refugees real, safe and legal escape routes from war and persecution,” said Colm O’Gorman.