On 13 September 71st Session of General Assembly United Nations opened in UN Headquarters, New York emphasizing on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “The 70th Session launched the SDGs and for integrity’s sake the 71st must be the year we witness the wheels turning on the implementation of all 17 SDGs,” the President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson, said as he took an oath of office before proceeding to open the new session.
United Nations High Level Summit for Refugees and Migrants http://refugeesmigrants.un.org/summit
On 19 September 2016, United Nations High level Summit for Refugees and Migrants was held in UNHQ. The theme of the Summit was agreed by the General Assembly in December 2015.
Adoption of the New York Declaration http://refugeesmigrants.un.org/declaration
Two main features of the summit was the adoption of the landmark Declaration on addressing the refugees and migrants, known as the New York Declaration and Together Campaign to respond to xenophobia.
The declaration contains commitments to address the issue with concrete plans to actualize the commitment. Some of the commitments are protection of the human rights of all refugees and migrants, including the rights of women, girls and promoting their full, equal, and meaning full participation in finding solutions; education of all refugee and migrant children, working towards ending the practice of detention of children, global campaign to counter xenophobia recognizing and strengthening the positive contribution of migrants to the economy of host countries, implementation of comprehensive refugee and inclusive response specially in the case of mass movements of refugees, working for resettlement and relocation, strengthening global governance by integrating International Organization for Migration (IOM) in UN System. The declaration contains concrete plans for the adoption of Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in 2018 and developing guidelines on the treatment of migrants in vulnerable situations.
The Secretary-General launched a new campaign called “Together – Respect, Safety and Dignity for All that called on to respond to the increasing xenophobia and to highlight the positive contributions of migrants and refugees to source, transit and destination countries.
The info-graphics based on official data sources from UN website gives a vivid picture of the present crisis situation: https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/infographics
Civil Society and the Draft Declaration
On 18 September 2016, civil society led and co-convened by a global, self-organized Action Committee held an open meeting to discuss advocacy at and after the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, 19 September 2016. This committee was formed in in May 2016 to focus on action, outcomes and implementation of UN General Assembly High level Summit on addressing large movement of refugees and migrants. Co-convened by International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) and the NGO Committee on Migration (New York) of which VIVAT International is a member. Prior to the meeting the New York Declaration and other documents were widely circulated for feedback and discussion, and negotiations for influencing a human rights approach to the declaration that consisted of seven commitments for acting on policies and implementation, accountability and allocation of resources.
The declaration was discussed on 18th meeting highlighting the follow-up that needs to be done post-summit. The jointly signed statement cum an analytic scorecard of each of the commitments contained in the declaration was submitted to the world leaders on 19 September 2016. http://refugees-migrants-civilsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/0685-HLD_Act-Now-GB.pdf
Unsafe and forced migration and refugee crisis is not new, but the international community has opened up to the possibility of addressing this unprecedented issue. In every continent the crisis is there, be it in Syria and the middle East, Central America, or South Sudan. Hence it is a relevant step by the world leaders. Faith based organizations have for long contributed and continues to addressing this issue. As faith based organization VIVAT International members are involved in addressing the issues of forced and unsafe migrants as well as refugees. The policy development at the international level is a positive step to follow up with the national level with the Governments.