UNHCR has released a “non-paper” on its plan for drafting the Global Compact on Refugees.
Last year’s New York Declaration charged UNHCR with presenting a draft Compact for consideration by the General Assembly in 2018. An Annex to the Declaration described the elements of a “Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF),” which is to be the central feature of the Compact.
The Roadmap announces that five countries–Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania–have agreed to serve as pilots for the comprehensive planning and implementation under the CRRF.
While effective development of the CRRF–and its acceptance by states and multilateral organizations–would be an achievement, the Compact will need to go significantly further if it is to remedy the major problems facing the international refugee regime. Most important would be (1) the establishment of a structure for burden-sharing, (2) a “triggering” device for convening states and other organizations to develop a comprehensive response plan in emergencies and protracted situations, (3) a funding platform that mobilizes additional resources and incentivizes private sector involvement, (4) recognition of broader classes of “persons of concern” beyond those identified in the Convention definition of refugee, and (5) a system of accountability that will monitor state compliance with the Refugee Convention and other international human rights norms and the performance of international organizations under the CRRF.
The Roadmap appears to make possible discussion of these issues, even while fundamentally focusing on the CRRF. It is up to states, the academic and policy community, foundations and the private sector to ensure support for a Compact “fit for purpose” to deal with the dramatic challenges now facing refugees and the states that host them.