The Global Compact on Refugees
On 31 January 2018, UNHCR released the Zero Draft of the Global Compact on Refugees. This Compact represents a long-awaited re-assessment of the ways in which States can fairly share their responsibilities to refugees. The Compact addresses:
- the importance of cooperation between States in ensuring that refugees are protected and long-term solutions achieved
- the increasingly urgent issue of how refugees should be treated prior to a decision being made on their status, and
- how to facilitate greater investment and involvement of different stakeholders in responding to mass movements of people in the future.
Where has the Compact come from?
In the 2016 New York Declaration, all UN Member States agreed to work towards the adoption in 2018 of a Global Compact on Refugees. The Declaration set out a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). The CRRF intends to improve international practice with regard to refugees, and has four objectives:
- to ease pressures on countries hosting large numbers of refugees
- to enhance refugee self-reliance
- to expand third-country solutions for refugees, and
- to support conditions in countries of origin to facilitate return in safety and dignity.
Through the measures implemented to meet these goals, the CRRF laid the foundations for the Global Compact on Refugees. The Global Compact on Refugees is the result of lessons learnt from the application and development of the CRRF.
Moving towards a more humane system
The draft Compact will form the basis of formal consultations with Member States led by UNHCR, between February and July of 2018. These consultations will likely result in the formulation of a final text of the Compact, to be presented to the UN General Assembly later in 2018.
Australia’s response to and role in the Global Compact on Refugees will be one of the focuses of RCOA’s Refugee Alternatives Conference from 13–14 February 2018. The conference will also consider how to make real the commitments made in the New York Declaration by developing a Program of Action for Australia. The conference is an opportunity for people affected by Australia’s refugee program to have their say and hear from others.
As well as developing ideas for a national Program of Action, RCOA will take some of the findings from the Refugee Alternatives Conference to international discussions in Geneva, as it did in 2017. Along with other Australian NGOs and refugee community advocates, RCOA will be in dialogue with UNHCR about the Global Compact and CRRF.