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Prompted by the record numbers of refugees and migrants moving across borders, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly will, for the first time ever, host a High-level Meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants (HLM). The meeting aims to bring together heads of states and also civil society actors and other stakeholders on 19 September 2016 in New York.

According to the dedicated UN website for the HLM, the meeting presents us with “a watershed moment to strengthen governance of international migration and a unique opportunity for creating a more responsible, predictable system for responding to large movements of refugees and migrants".

A lot will be happening in the coming weeks and months in preparation for this high-level meeting. Civil society needs to be involved, informed and heard throughout the process. Therefore we are committed to sending you regular updates on developments and civil society actions.  
 
1. Key information on the 19th September High-level Meeting on refugees and migrants 

UN Secretary General (SG) Ban Ki-moon has issued a report in preparation for the HLM. In the report, entitled “In safety and dignity: addressing large movements of refugees and migrants”, he suggests three pillars on which commitments and actions following the HLM can be based:
  • Pillar 1: Uphold safety and dignity in large movements of both refugees and migrants
  • Pillar 2: Global compact on responsibility-sharing for refugees
  • Pillar 3: Global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration
In his report, Ban Ki-moon has also announced the initiation of a UN-led campaign to counter xenophobia and promote social inclusion, which will be launched after the 19 September HLM.
 
While governments are in the final stages of deciding the format and themes of the HLM in September (with a “modalities resolution” that is in final draft form), it is almost certain that UN Member States will very soon start the negotiation process to produce a formal outcome for the UN General Assembly to adopt, by consensus, at the HLM on 19 September.
 
Civil society will be able to advocate on that outcome in several ways:
  • Within the negotiation process, civil society will likely be invited to contribute to the outcome document through informal meetings, while the informal multi-stakeholder interactive hearing on 18 July will serve as an official moment of input. However, negotiations are likely to start long before this hearing.
  • Civil society can and is already advocating for its priorities through direct contact and conversations with states; both as individual organizations, but wherever possible also collectively.  Key, clear civil common society messages that civil society can carry broadly will have great value as states negotiate the outcome. 
Key dates for civil society
 
2. Civil Society Action Committee

A self-organised Civil Society "HLM Action Committee" has been created, which will focus on action, outcomes and implementation of the HLM. The Action Committee is being co-convened by ICMC, ICVA and the NGO Committee on Migration (New York) and is comprised of twenty NGO’s with longstanding expertise and experience on refugee, migrant, forced displacement and human rights issues. Other civil society organisations are also invited to participate through open calls, meetings and consultations, such as this survey.

The purpose of the Action Committee is to:
  • Guide collective, inclusive and fast organising of key, common civil society actions and messages that civil society wants to see in the official outcome of the HLM process, taking as a starting point the 3 pillars in the final pages of the UN Secretary General’s report, the 6 roundtable themes proposed by governments  for the HLM, as well as the issue of social inclusion and countering xenophobia, around which the UN intends to launch a global campaign;
  • Encourage and facilitate strategic civil society advocacy contacts with states regarding the content of the HLM outcome;
  • Monitor HLM-related developments and communicate with governments and key stakeholders throughout the process;
  • Organise a preparatory strategy meeting in New York on Sunday 17 July, the day before the “informal interactive multi-stakeholder” meeting that the UN is organizing, which has tentatively been scheduled for 18 July.
Read the terms of reference for the Civil Society HLM Action Committee here
 
3. Survey for Civil Society – what action do you want the UN and governments to take?

As one step towards mapping top priorities and common key messages of civil society organisations around the world towards the HLM, we invite you to complete this survey by 9 June. Specifically, what key actions and implementation mechanisms do you want governments and the UN to include in in the outcome? We will share the results of the survey with you soon. 
 
4. The separate UN-led civil society Steering Committee for the HLM 

The UN has called for a “volunteer civil society Selection Committee to support broad and inclusive participation of civil society in the UN General Assembly High-level Meeting”. This Committee is currently being selected by the UN on the basis of open applications.  It will advise on the “informal interactive multi-stakeholder hearing” (tentatively 18 July) and to nominate candidates for civil society speaking roles, in either or both the hearing and the HLM itself.

Wherever possible and productive, the work of civil society’s self-organized Action Committee will forge links with this UN-led Steering Committee. 
 
5. UN opens registration/application for civil society to participate and speak  

While waiting for the states to adopt the modalities resolution, the UN has already opened up a registration and application process for civil society organizations who wish to attend or speak at either or both events; the 18 July interactive hearing; and the 19 September High-level Meeting.

Organizations with consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) need to register in order to participate in either or both events, and may apply for a speaking role.

Organizations that do not have accreditation with ECOSOS, will need to apply and also be approved by Member States on what is called a “non-objection” basis. The UN organises this review by sending the list of non-ECOSOC accredited organizations to states to review, in advance of the hearing and HLM. By expressing an objection to any non-ECOSOC organization(s), a state blocks its participation in the hearing and HLM.  

Click here to go to the UN HLM civil society registration/application form.

Application/registration deadlines:
11 June: Apply for the 18 July informal hearing
31 July: Apply for the 19 September high-level meeting

With solidarity and shared ambition,

Ms. Wies MAAS, ICMC in New York (maas@icmc.net) and
Ms. Emer GROARKE, ICMC in Brussels (groarke@icmc.net)
Ms. Melissa PITOTTI, ICVA in Geneva
The NGO Committee on Migration in New York

The HLM Civil Society Action Committee is convened by:  
 
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