UN talks focus on long-term refugee action plan

Professor Pene Mathew at the UN in Geneva.
Professor Pene Mathew at the UN in Geneva.

How countries can best implement a sustainable refugee action plan was the focus of recent UN talks in Geneva attended by Professor Pene Mathew, Dean of Griffith Law School.

The High Commissioner’s 10th Dialogue on Protection Challenges held at the Palais des Nations on December 12 and 13, evaluated the progress of aglobal compact on refugees.

The compact is under development by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees following last year’sNew York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants.

The dialogue focussed on the outcomes of the fivethematic discussionsheld between July and November 2017 and the roll-out of theComprehensive Refugee Response Framework(CRRF) in 13 countries.

Professor Mathew said the dialogue showcased significant achievements by host countries in the developing world.

“There are many countries in such areas that are implementing good practices under the CRRF such as avoiding housing refugees in camps and providing refugees access to livelihoods,’’ Professor Mathew said.

“The refugee youth delegates provided a direct voice for refugees, which is a very welcome development, as is the inclusion of institutions that work on long term development goals in addition to humanitarian actors that deal with the immediate demands of a refugee crisis.

“It remains to be seen whether the countries of the developed world that have most capacity to protect refugees will provide the necessary funding and resettlement places needed in order to more equitably share responsibility for refugees.”

More than 500 representatives from governments, local authorities, civil society, private sector, academia, international organisations and financial institutions, and refugee youth delegates across the globe attended the talks.

The global compact on refugees aims to build on the existing international framework for refugee protection, including the 1951 Refugee Convention.

It will set out concrete steps to be taken by governments and others to ensure communities hosting refugees get the timely support they need, that refugees are better included in host communities (with access to health, education and livelihoods), and that solutions to the plight of refugees are sought from the start of a refugee situation.

UNHCR will begin formal consultations on the compact with governments and other stakeholders in February 2018. The High Commissioner will propose a compact to the UN General Assembly towards the end of 2018.