In December 2015, the UN General Assembly agreed to convene a high-level meeting to address large movements of migrants and refugees. The United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants will be held on 19 September 2016 in New York. The meeting will bring together heads of state and government, and leaders from academia, NGOs, civil society, the UN system, and the private sector, to seek a more humane and coordinated response to refugees and migrants.
Preparations for the summit have taken place throughout this year. In May, the Secretary General submitted a report to the General Assembly providing background and recommendations for the summit. The report proposes a global compact on responsibility-sharing for refugees, and a global compact on safe, regular and orderly migration, as well as various other commitments by states to improve responsibility-sharing for refugees.
In the lead up to the summit, civil society actors urged states to make concrete commitments to improve refugee protection. A joint statement issued by 28 NGOs urged that the summit outcome document:
- Promote and implement existing refugee and human rights law and standards.
- Commit to developing a global system where responsibility for welcoming, protecting, and assisting refugees, would be shared fairly, and outline concrete actions for ensuring this is the case.
- Endorse development of principles and guidelines for essential protection and assistance to migrants who are vulnerable, on the move, and at borders.
- Recognise international law obligations to protect the best interests of the child, and end the practice of detaining children based on their parents’ migration status
- Set out a timetabled plan to develop a norms-based framework on safe, orderly, and regular migration to be adopted in 2018.
On the 3 October, the General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The document affirms key principles of refugee protection but various concrete commitments recommended in the Secretary General’s report, including to increase resettlement places for at least 10 percent of the world’s refugee population, were not included. The document outlines plans to work toward adoption of the two global compacts in 2018.