New York Declaration: The world commitment on protecting migrants and refugees

21/09/2016

At the UN Summit, the world will come together around one plan. Member States have reached agreement by consensus on a powerful outcome document.
The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants expresses the political will of world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale. At the UN Summit on 19 September, we expect to hear from world leaders about how each country will implement these commitments. Refugees, migrants, those who assist them, and their host countries and communities will all benefit if these commitments are met.
The past several years have witnessed an array of crises causing mass movements of refugees and migrants in different parts of the world. While humanitarian assistance has provided immediate relief to millions of people, long-term responses to the various crises have typically been ad hoc, incomplete and uncoordinated. Countries hosting large refugee populations have shouldered a disproportionate burden. Thousands of vulnerable migrants, especially women and children, suffer exploitation and abuse at the hands of human traffickers. By circumventing existing border controls, migrant smugglers contribute to irregular migration. Third-country responses to large movements of refugees and migrants have ranged from generously welcoming newcomers to closing borders. Thousands of migrants and refugees have lost their lives in search for safety and a better life. The absence of systematic approaches to the arrival and stay of large-scale population movements has undermined the public trust in many countries.
Today, large-scale movements of refugees and migrants are a reality, with countries playing various roles as places of origin, transit or destination depending on the circumstances. These growing movements are taking place against the backdrop of increased human mobility and interconnectedness as a result of globalization.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda offer concrete commitments to leverage the benefits of international migration for development, to mitigate the root causes of displacement, to facilitate safe, orderly, and regular migration, and to address the various challenges posed by migration. Greater international cooperation and a strengthened commitment to responsibility-sharing are key elements in responding to large movements of refugees and migrants and in designing well-managed migration policies.
It was the first time the General Assembly had called for a summit at the Heads of State and Government level on large movements of refugees and migrants and was a historic opportunity to come up with a blueprint for a better international response. The Summit was a watershed moment to strengthen governance of international migration and a unique opportunity for creating a more responsible, predictable system for responding to large movements of refugees and migrants.
View the full text of the New York Declaraton.

What are the commitments?

The New York Declaration contains bold commitments both to address the issues we face now and to prepare the world for future challenges. These include commitments to:
  • Protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of status. This includes the rights of women and girls and promoting their full, equal and meaningful participation in finding solutions.
  • Ensure that all refugee and migrant children are receiving education within a few months of arrival.
  • Prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.
  • Support those countries rescuing, receiving and hosting large numbers of refugees and migrants.
  • Work towards ending the practice of detaining children for the purposes of determining their migration status.
  • Strongly condemn xenophobia against refugees and migrants and support a global campaign to counter it.
  • Strengthen the positive contributions made by migrants to economic and social development in their host countries.
  • Improve the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance to those countries most affected, including through innovative multilateral financial solutions, with the goal of closing all funding gaps.
  • Implement a comprehensive refugee response, based on a new framework that sets out the responsibility of Member States, civil society partners and the UN system, whenever there is a large movement of refugees or a protracted refugee situation.
  • Find new homes for all refugees identified by UNHCR as needing resettlement; and expand the opportunities for refugees to relocate to other countries through, for example, labour mobility or education schemes.
  • Strengthen the global governance of migration by bringing the International Organization for Migration into the UN system.

What will happen next?

The New York Declaration also contains concrete plans for how to build on these commitments:
  • Start negotiations leading to an international conference and the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in 2018. The agreement to move toward this comprehensive framework is a momentous one. It means that migration, like other areas of international relations, will be guided by a set of common principles and approaches.
  • Develop guidelines on the treatment of migrants in vulnerable situations. These guidelines will be particularly important for the increasing number of unaccompanied children on the move. 
  • Achieve a more equitable sharing of the burden and responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees by adopting a global compact on refugees in 2018.

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