Earlier this month UNHCR released an updated draft for the Global Compact on Refugees, and formal negotiations continued in the humanitarian capital.
I was pleased to read the updated draft: UNHCR have made clear that reducing the number of refugees living in protracted situations without durable solutions (Paragraph 5.4) is the overall goal of the process. They have proposed a system in which states can pledge voluntary contributions towards this goal (Paragraph 6). And they have sketched out a model in which ambition can be continuously raised, and the implementation of contributions can be tracked in the years to come (Paragraphs 14 & 16). I believe a system like this, similar to the final structure of the Paris Agreement, which I studied for my MA thesis and recently suggested could be a useful model for the Compact, is an excellent first step towards improving the current refugee protection regime. Hopefully it will also contribute to improving the narrative on global responsibility sharing for refugees.
When UNHCR released the new draft, I was immediately curious as to the reaction from humanitarian actors and experts. Being currently based away from the centre of the discussions, no longer privy to informal discussions in the corridors of the Palais des Nations, I went online and to Twitter, to see what I could find. UNHCR has made the draft public, as well as the written contributions submitted by states, agencies and NGOs to the consultations. But for civil society organisations, refugees, researchers, and any other interested/concerned parties following the process from afar, what else is out there? Who is providing insight into the positioning of states, into the strategy of UN agencies, or the concerns of NGOs?
Here are a few things of interest that I found in my recent internet trawling:
- Refugees International have recently put together a detailed and clear analysis on recent Compact drafts, including updates from the previous drafts, and pointers on what has improved and what is still missing.
- Refugees Deeply has a podcast bringing together a range of experts, and regularly discussing both the Compacts (Refugee & Migration).
- This piece of long-form journalism assesses one of the more recent attempts at a responsibility sharing agreement, ‘the Jordan Compact’, as do two articles here and here in the latest Forced Migration Review.
- For those who want a quick recap of the status of the Migration Compact, the SDG knowledge hub at IISD is tracking the process and providing almost word for word readouts of the consultations. On Open Democracy, human rights advocates in Argentina analyse the current status of the Migration Compact.
- Finally, this interesting article argues for greater links between the two Compacts, especially when it comes to labour rights, as ‘person who works is a worker, whatever label she was given when she crossed borders’.
This is a small sample of information I could find, mostly opinions from academics, NGO statements and some investigative journalism. It’s still hard to get a sense of where the discussions are going, sitting from a distance.
Does it matter if individuals based outside of Geneva and New York can follow these processes? I suspect that many would say that not really, perhaps the Compact won’t amount to much anyway. However, the optimist in me would say that this is our opportunity to improve the refugee system – ensuring that everyone can follow and contribute constructively is vital. I’ll keep trawling, and I’m all ears for any of your favourite sources.