2015 marked a year where the world saw large movements of refugees and migrants to levels not previously seen before in the post-World War II era. Most of the movements were due to wars, conflicts, persecutions, climate change related disasters, and many more reasons.

 

From 2015 till 2018, the United Nations (UN) and States worked hard to find solutions to the phenomenon. For the first time a high-level conference was organized in order to provide a forum for States to discuss how to manage these large-scale movements. The UN Secretary General wrote a report that served to guide States on how they could co-operate and allow for the rights of refugees and migrants to be respected during these unprecedented times. A new organization joined the UN system with the purpose of providing “humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all”.

These were the three main events that eventually led to creation and adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (Global Compact for Migration) and the Global Compact on Refugees.

 

The Global Compact for Migration represented “the first-ever UN global agreement on a common approach to international migration in all its dimensions”, whilst the Global Compact on Refugees symbolised “the political will and ambition of the international community as a whole for strengthened cooperation and solidarity with refugees and affected host countries”. Although both Global Compacts are not legally binding, both documents show the political willingness to address the situation and give rise to commitments by the international community that are rooted in international human rights law and international refugee law.

This section of the website was made with the help of Chiara Maria Natta.

The United Nations Global Compacts

On Refugees and Migration

Before this high-level meeting was held, the Secretary General submitted his report titled “In safety and dignity: addressing large movements of refugees and migrants”. The report served to provide background and recommendations in preparation of the meeting. He encouraged Member States to “make full use of the opportunity offered by the meeting to adopt, at the highest level, new global commitments to addressing large movements of refugees and migrants “, using the three pillars he believed were key:

  • Upholding safety and dignity in large movements of both refugees and migrants

  • Comprehensive responses and enhanced responsibility-sharing for refugees

  • Ensuring safe, regular and orderly migration

WHAT LED TO THE GLOBAL COMPACTS ON REFUGEES AND MIGRATION?

In late 2015, Ban Ki-moon, who at the time was Secretary General of the United Nations, submitted a decision, which was then adopted by the General Assembly, to hold a “High-level plenary meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants” on 19 December 2016. This meeting was then known to be the New York Summit which led to the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, that was the document that brought the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration to life.

The report interestingly mentioned the need for the United Nations to strengthen its relationship with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). At that point in time the United Nations did not have a specific agency that dealt with migration in general. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) was known to protect refugees, and persons who were forced to flee and who sought international protection, however the agency did not deal with migrants.

THE NEW YORK DECLARATION FOR REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS

On 19 September 2016, Heads of States of governments around the world gathered in New York to discuss the future of the global efforts to address large movements of refugees and migrants. This meeting led to the unanimous adoption by the UN General Assembly of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (also known as the New York Declaration).

The Declaration contained commitments that were split into three main categories: commitments that applied to refugees and migrants, commitments that applied to migrants, and commitments that applied to refugees.

Before the Heads of States met in New York, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), on 25 July 2016, was voted unanimously by the UN General Assembly to become a UN related agency. Throughout the decade IOM had worked with UN agencies at both operational and policy levels, however the formal insertion of IOM into the UN system made the New York Declaration possible. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE NEW YORK DECLARATION CLICK HERE

ANNEX I

COMPREHENSIVE REFUGEE RESPONSE FRAMEWORK (CRRF)
 

States agreed that there was a need for a “comprehensive refugee response based on the principles of international cooperation and on burden- and responsibility-sharing".

 

The Annex provides States with actions and best practices that were collected throughout UNHCR’s 65 years of experience working in the field of refugee protection. These actions and practices were split into four sections:

  • reception and admission measures;

  • support for immediate and ongoing needs;

  • support for host countries;

  • and enhanced opportunities for durable solutions.
     

A dozen countries in South America and Africa decided to pilot CRRFs in their countries. These pilots two years late consolidated States' faith in the proper functioning and setting up of the CRRF.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE CRRF CLICK HERE

 

Listen to a the former head of the UNHCR office in Belize that piloted the CRRF

ANNEX II

 TOWARDS A GLOBAL COMPACT FOR SAFE, ORDERLY AND REGULAR MIGRATION

The annex II launched a process of intergovernmental negotiations that led to the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in December 2018. 

States acknowledged the positive contribution of migrants to sustainable and inclusive development and understood that they had to cooperate internationally to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration involving full respect for human rights and the humane treatment of migrants, regardless of migration status.

The annex II ultimately gave pointers as to what would have to be discussed and then included in the Global Compact for Migration.

THE GLOBAL COMPACTS ON REFUGEES AND MIGRATION?

On 10 and 11 December 2018, an intergovernmental conference took place in Marrakesh Morocco.

At this conference both the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration were adopted.

On the last day of the conference, the United Nations Network for Migration was established.

The UN Secretary General stated that the Network was to focus on collaboration, that it would have an agile and inclusive structure, it would support States, embody the diversity of the UN, and that IOM would have a central role.

The Global Compact on Refugees was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 17 December 2018 with:

181 Votes for

2 Votes against

and 3 abstentions.

Click here to access the Global Compact on Refugees

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was framed in a manner consistent with target 10.7 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in which Member States committed to cooperate internationally to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration.

It was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 19 December 2018 with:

151 Votes for

5 Votes against 

12 abstentions

and 24 States did not vote.

Click here to access the Global Compact for Migration