Written by Ehab Badwi
Today, more than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homelands around the world. , The unfortunate popular rhetoric around them is not building bridges but erecting walls and fences.The process for the Global Compact on Refugees comes at an opportune time and offers us a historic moment to correct our trajectories and live up to our responsibilities.
Many flawed policies and inhumane bilateral agreements (EU agreement with Turkey) are actually further endangering refugees with thousands perishing in their hopeful journeys. forcing refugees to take more dangerous There is an urgent need to move beyond conversation and debate, and onto systematic action. We need to reaffirm and build on the 1951 Refugee Convention and hold states accountable towards their obligations. A world in which erecting barbed wire to welcome refugees and asylum seekers is a very sad world. The new compact needs to layout mechanisms for refugees and migrants to have the right to participate in policy decisions that directly affect their lives.
The process of the pre-summit negotiations needs to be more open, especially with designated spaces for young people, and those that identity as affected groups.
We must collectively call for greater responsibility and resource allocation towards refugees and migrants including the protection of their rights. More specifically, essential services like education, health, livelihoods and civic participation needs to underpin all efforts.
In addition, we hope that the two Compacts will recognise a comprehensive approach to human mobility for refugees and migrants. This would the following commitments:
- Protect the safety, dignity and human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migratory status, and at all times.
- Commit to support arrangements for countries rescuing, receiving and hosting large numbers of refugees and migrants.
- Integrate migrants — addressing their needs and capacities as well as those of receiving communities — in humanitarian and development assistance frameworks and planning.
- Take strong steps to combat xenophobia, racism and discrimination towards all migrants.
- Develop, through a state-led process, non-binding principles and voluntary guidelines on the treatment of migrants in vulnerable situations.
- Act on the urgent need to reform the global asylum system.
From my assessment of what I have seen through my engagement in with the UN, there is a blind unquestioned faith among many t, i that the respective compacts will lead to two new global charters, which will automatically enforce operational change. This will probably not be the case, as change at this level is often too slow. The summit last year is an example of this, that followed a process and agreed to have two more processes. We are hopeful within the bounds of what the international system offers us, and continue to work within our communities to try and create positive impact for affected people.
We hope for clarity in the process, and more space to engage young people through a rights based modality. We also hope for it to be proactive about engaging more affected populations.
It is critical that all parties through the negotiating process keep in mind how their conduct will affect the rights of migrants and refugees, and how can the outcome be a genuine global pact.
These questions remain unanswered to this day. As a result, the stated objectives of the Global Compacts, are ambitious and wide-ranging, but need to be backed up by measurable indicators and enforceable commitments. For example, the objectives stipulate that the Migration Agreement will deal with international migration “in all its dimensions” and “will address all aspects of international migration, including humanitarian, development, human rights and other aspects of migration”.
This is great but very difficult. All aspects of migration are related to human rights. In practice, however, the protection of the human rights of migrants has always been a challenge for the international community, the United Nations and advocates of migrants’ rights.
While States in New York have committed themselves to providing “the full protection of the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of their status”, the declaration from last year reveals the unwillingness to work collectively to ensure respect for the rights of all migrants in practice. For example, the Declaration does not commit to ending the detention of migrant children. When States say that they will protect the rights of all migrants, this should mean that they will develop a framework for the incorporation of international human rights law into their national laws, policies and practice, in a manner explicitly addressing their application to migrants.
The ongoing global compacts are the latest in a series of more than a decade long effort to make the global migration framework more inclusive and effective.
Migrant rights groups have a genuine and legitimate fear that international human rights standards will be replaced as a basis for the protection of migrants and replaced by voluntary and non-binding guidelines, and what William Swing, director-general of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), called “practical protection”. But if member states really want a global agreement that addresses international migration “in all its dimensions”, they must simply remain committed to the Charter and the United Nations.