It is well understood that the definition of “refugee” in the 1951 Convention does not cover all forced migrants, or even all forced migrants in need of international protection. Through General Assembly resolutions, regional instruments and international practice, the definition of refugee—and UNHCR’s mandate to provide international protection—has evolved.
The Global Compact on Refugees has evolved from its point of origin as Annex 1 in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.
Leah Zamore and I have completed a book manuscript entitled The Arc of Protection: Toward a New International Refugee Regime. The book, in draft, is being published on Public Seminar, a New School website. We are publishing the book in draft because we would welcome a discussion of the issues, including criticisms and corrections now--before it goes between hard covers. The Public Seminar site will publish comments and discussion points (as indicated at the bottom of each post). We'd be delighted to hear from you.
It is, I think, a happy state of affairs that the New York Declaration did not include a GCR. It has given UNHCR and interested parties the opportunity to take a broader view of what ails the international refugee regime and what is needed to fix it. This will now be worked out in the “Programme of Action” to be included in the GCR. The Programme of Action is nominally a detailed plan for ensuring success of the CRRF. But already in the Zero Draft of the GCR it is more than that, and it is here that future development of the GCR will, and needs to, take place.
UNHCR has released the "Zero Draft" of the Global Compact on Refugees. I would like to start a thread for commenting on the draft. What's in the draft of significance; what's left out? What amendments would you propose? What is the likelihood of state adoption? Let's get a conversation going.
High Commissioner Grandi ended the Dialogue with a powerful and informative set of remarks. Mr. Grandi repeatedly emphasized the contribution of hosting states in responding to refugee situations. Thus he began by describing the continuing South Sudanese displacement crisis (about to enter its fifth year), mentioning the six neighboring states that have taken in two million refugees and implicitly contrasting their efforts with the contributions of donor states (only 1/3 of the appeal for funds had been met, and of the 90,000 refugees UNHCR has said need resettlement it is likely that less than 2% will actually be resettled this year). The High Commissioner stated that thinking about responsibility-sharing must begin with recognition that hosting states “pay the highest price” (particularly municipalities). Hosting states, he said, “have been waiting a very long time for things to change.”
I am “blogging” (never thought I would use that word) from the High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges in Geneva, which is devoted this year to the Global Compact on Refugees. High Commissioner Grandi gave a lengthy opening statement [see the UNHCR story on the speech]. The HC stated that the next step in the process, following the two day Dialogue, would be the writing of a “zero draft” of the Compact, which would be shared with states prior to the consultation stage set to begin in mid-February.
A bit of shameless self-promotion. The Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility has recently launched a project on a Global Broadband Plan for Refugees, aimed at expanding connectivity for refugees and refugee-hosting communities. The initiative is supported by Tent.org, USA for UNHCR and the World Bank. We are working with UNHCR to identify CRRF pilot countries in which to begin the project. Read more about the project at https://www.broadband4refugees.org/. Read the brief, subscribe for updates, and find more information on our partnerships and objectives.