With this 10th edition of the “UNGA Summit 2016” updates, which presents a wrap-around view of the events of ‘Summit week’ 2016, we complete the most intense period of briefings and information-sharing related to the 19 September UN General Assembly Summit for Refugees and Migrants. Future newsletters and mailings will revert to a pace of about one every 4-6 weeks, with additional as needed. These will be complementary to regular mechanisms of communication, monitoring the follow-through on the multiple commitments in the Summit’s outcome, the “New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants”.
Thanks to all for the readership, commitment and action!
Civil Society Pre-Summit Strategy Meeting
In a meeting convened by the global civil society Action Committee for the Summit, 150 civil society organisations gathered at the UN Church Centre in New York on 18 September, the day before the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Summit for Refugees and Migrants, to organize collective advocacy and strategies for concrete follow-up on Summit commitments. This followed a similar structure to the gathering the Action Committee had organized in July, the day before the Informal, Interactive Multi-stakeholder Hearing at the UNGA 18 July, also related to the Summit.
As in the earlier gathering, more than half of the participants were themselves refugees, migrants or members of the diaspora. Many others are working in organizations led by a migrant, refugee or member of the diaspora. Coming from every continent of the world, most represented refugee, human rights and development NGOs, migrant or diaspora organizations and trade union and worker organizations, with a smaller number of academics, researchers and media.
There was wide appreciation of the fact that the Action Committee and these gatherings were the first times in memory that the refugee protection NGOs came together with migrant rights NGOs to work on these issues so collectively at an international level.
Participants focused entirely on the formal outcome document and commitments that States were going to adopt at the Summit the next day. Now entitled the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, the set of commitments met with a mix of positive and negative reactions (see also section on joint statement and scorecard, further below).There was strong consensus that while the Declaration clearly advanced on some important matters, the Declaration lacked adequate urgency, commitment and certainty on many of the major challenges in large movements of refugees and migrants today. In hours of
plenary discussion as well as three breakout groups, participants examined commitments in the Declaration to the two, parallel processes that the Summit was launching (to create a Global Compact on Refugees and also a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, see para 2 of the Declaration) and to expand the global campaign for social inclusion and against xenophobia (see para 1.14 of the Declaration).
Among other things, proposals by ICMC for civil society to consider coming together to write its own two Compacts were discussed positively. Requests by several participants for the Action Committee to continue its work “bigger but lighter” were also considered positively, with strong suggestions to bring in some of the civil society leaders in social inclusion and against xenophobia, and to continue to connect, not control, with natural, often pre-existing formations of civil society that can take forward work on the two Compacts and Campaign.
During the meeting there was unanimity on one point: Civil society must be relentless and persistent in holding governments to commit and to account in the days, months and years following the Summit, so that real changes are made on the ground for refugees and migrants in need of protection, safe passage, solidarity, inclusion, decent work and livelihoods, and for the societies that host them.
Side event snapshot: Migration and Development: A Roadmap to a Global Compact
(the World Bank Group)
This event sought to highlight possible elements needed to be included and ways forward on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. See the interventions of Gibril Faal of the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD) at 1:18.44 and John K. Bingham of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) at 1:27.05 of the recording of the event.
UNGA Summit for Refugees and Migrants
There were few surprises at the opening plenary of the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, which was held on the first day of the UN General Assembly 71st Session. See the full video of the opening plenary of the Summit, with the ceremonial adoption of the New York Declaration at OO:13:10.
Present at the meeting were heads of state and world leaders, as well as members of civil society including refugees, migrants and members of the diaspora. In the opening plenary of the Summit, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and IOM Director General William Lacy Swing formally signed the decision to formally bring IOM directly into the UN system (see signing). Among the interventions during the opening plenary was the powerful speech given by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid
Ra'ad Al Hussein. He reminded member states of the “bitter truth”; that “this summit was called because we have been largely failing…failing millions of migrants who deserve far more than lives marked by cradle-to-grave indignity and desperation.” (see full speech).
Civil society interventions at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants
Members of civil society, including a large number of refugee and migrant representatives, gave interventions throughout the Summit, both during the opening plenary and during the six roundtables held throughout the day. Here is a short sampling of some quotes, statements and links to video recordings of civil society speeches and interventions during the Summit
Opening Plenary of Summit (video)
At 00:53:15 - Eni Lestari Andayani Adi, International Migrants Alliance (IMA)
In two years, you are set to forge a global compact for us. Let’s make it real and actionable. Frame it as rights-based and make sure its implementation will lessen displacement or forced migration, resolves conflict and the root causes of poverty. Let’s work for a world without vulnerability, insecurity or invisibility. As people, as workers, as women, as migrants – we are ready to make this happen. Work with us.
Full statement here: http://statements.unmeetings.org/media2/7660310/ima.pdf
At 00:57:55 - Mohammed Badran, Syrian Volunteers in the Netherlands.
Too often "inaction" is the only thing that the international community can agree on, when it comes to finding a solution to the refugee crisis.
At 01:02:10 - Nadia Taha, Yazda
You (the world leaders) decide whether it is to be war or peace. You decide to give hope or suffering [...]. We must put an end to war [...]. In order to restore peace we should not close our borders to any innocent women and children who flee from violence [...]. The world has only one border, it is called humanity.
Summit round table 1 - Addressing the root causes of large movements of refugees (video)
Civil society speaker: Ms. Joyce Foni, Women’s Refugee Commission (at 00:14:40 of video; statement)
The best way to address these challenges is to give refugees the tools that we need to become the engineers of peace, stability and development to rebuild their nation. In this effort, the potential of refugee youth remains largely untapped. This must change. Refugee youth want the same thing young people everywhere want: to be consulted, to be listened to, to contribute, to engage, and to be part of solutions.
Summit round table 2 - Addressing drivers of migration, particularly large movements, and highlighting (video)
Civil society speaker: Ms. Jille Belisario, Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (at 00:23:25 of video; statement)
“To leave no one behind” we need a more intense effort to work with civil societies reclaiming areas of development and that governments at state and UN level should promote policy coherence across the spectrum of development, trade and investment and peace and safe movement of peoples across borders.
Summit round table 3 - International action and cooperation on refugees and migrants and issues related to displacement: the way ahead (video)
Civil society speaker: Mr. Gibril Faal, African Foundation for Development (at 00:24:15 of video; statement)
Having worked with states and partners during the negotiations, I now commend to you the civil society response document entitled ‘Act Now’, as published. We acknowledge that progress has been made, yet we note that it is nowhere near enough. We observe that what could have been expected to be firm commitments are presented as considerations to be applied where appropriate. Alas, we noticed undue “hesitancy, half-heartedness…..and language [that] attempts to back-slide on or undercut existing fundamental human rights standards”.
Summit round table 4 - Global compact for responsibility-sharing for refugees; respect for international law (video)
Civil society speaker: Ms. Elba Yanett Coria Marquez, SOS Children Villages (at 00:21:12 of video; article)
Children are detained without any other consideration than their irregular status or their parents’ status. Detention is NEVER in the best interest of the child. Alternative care options are a better way to protect them.
Summit round table 5 - Global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration: towards realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieving the full respect for the human rights of migrants (video)
Civil society speaker: Mr. Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO (at 00:31:23 of video; statement)
I know, first-hand, how much refugee and migrants can achieve and contribute when they are given a chance [...]. It is essential that any new commitments on migration empower workers to exercise their rights. We call on the leaders gathered here to produce a global compact the gives workers of all skills levels a real chance at family reunification and permanent migration. “Safe, regular and orderly“ is a bare minimum. Instead, we must pursue a rights-based approach that raises standards for all working people.
Summit round table 6 - Addressing vulnerabilities of refugees and migrants on their journeys from their countries of origin to their countries of arrival (video)
Civil society speaker: Ms. Eleanor Acer, Human Rights First (at 00:22:20 of video; statement)
Respect for human rights and refugee law is essential to securing stability and security; it also benefits host states and communities. Civil society groups have expressed disappointment that the Declaration does not include more concrete commitments, and that some states worked to include language that appeared aimed at undercutting existing human rights standards, including for children.
High-level Civil Society event of the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants
65 million people around the world are named “refugee”, but that is not their name - Yusra Mardini, Syrian refugee and Olympic swimmer
This event was held in parallel to the Summit’s morning plenary and roundtables. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shared his own experiences as a refugee after the Korean War, saying he will do everything possible “to enable migrants and refugees to contribute to our common future.” Mr. Ban also stressed the “legitimate right” of civil society to raise its voice, noting its "strong and trusted voices,” including on good practices in responding to movements of refugees and migrants. Speakers at the event included Yusra Mardini, Syrian refugee and Olympic swimmer (at 00:14:30),
Muzoon Almellehan, Syrian refugee and campaigner with the Malala Fund (at 00:19:20) and 12 year-old Lana (pseudonym) (at 00:25:20), a Syrian refugee living in Jordan.
Side event snapshot with UNTV video: Responsibility and Solution Sharing: The Role of Religious Leaders and Faith-based Organizations Responding to Large Migrant and Refugee Movements
The Permanent Mission of the Holy See, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), and Caritas Internationalis co-hosted a side event to highlight the extensive engagement of religious leaders and faith-based organizations to provide migrants and refugees with immediate humanitarian assistance, facilitating resettlement, and promoting integration in new home countries. See the full video here.
Side event snapshot with UNTV video: Supporting Greater Dignity and Protection: Enhancing Self-Reliance in Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Refugee Situations
(Permanent Missions of Denmark, Jordan and Uganda, UNHCR, World Food Programme)
Side event snapshot with UNTV video: Boosting Opportunities for Higher Education in Emergencies
(Permanent Missions of Qatar and Portugal, Education Above All Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, German Academic Exchange Service, Global Platform for Syrian Students, International Unit, Institute of International Education, World University Service Canada)
Obama Summit: Leaders’ Summit on Refugees
One of the first “tests” of taking forward some of the commitments within the New York Declaration was the so-called “Obama Summit” held in the margins of the UNGA Summit on Refugees and Migrants. Indeed, taking place 20 September-- the very next day, this “Leaders’ Summit on Refugees” was organised by the United States, who co-hosted the event along with Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico and Sweden.
According to a factsheet that the United States issued after the Summit, “fifty-two countries and international organizations participated in the Summit, announcing commitments that cumulatively increased their total 2016 financial contributions to UN appeals and international humanitarian organizations by approximately $4.5 billion over 2015 levels; roughly doubled the number of refugees they resettled or afforded other legal channels of admission in 2016; created improved access to education for one million refugee children globally; and, improved access to lawful work for one million refugees globally.”
These numbers include commitments made during previous meetings held throughout the year, including the Private Sector Forum on Migration and Refugees (the Concordia Summit) also 20 September (see section below).
Canada, UNHCR and the Open Society Foundations announced a new joint initiative to increase the availability of resettlement as a solution for refugees, through significant expansion of mechanisms for private sponsorship of refugees. (Read more here.)
The numbers also include a three-year pledge by 31 civil society organizations that are members of InterAction, the largest US alliance of international NGOs, to collectively invest $1.2 billion in private resources on global humanitarian assistance efforts. Over the three-year commitment period, InterAction will track and annually announce the total private investments by participating member NGOs in humanitarian aid related to refugee services and relief. (Read more here.)
In a joint-statement following the Leaders’ Summit, the governments hosting the Summit committed to working in support of the Global Compact on Refugees, which member states agreed in the New York Declaration at the UNGA Summit the day before. In the statement the seven co-hosts recognize that “no routine mechanism exists yet to facilitate the kind of voluntary responsibility-sharing for refugees that was demonstrated today or to more comprehensively address other challenges arising from large-scale refugee crises.”
Civil society actors, such as Save the Children have welcomed the pledges made at the Leaders’ Summit, but remind world leaders that for these meetings to have a meaningful and lasting impact, pledges made by states must translate into concrete actions on the ground. See Save the Children’s statement following the 20 September leaders’ Summit here.
Concordia Summit: Private Sector Forum on Migration and Refugees
Another setting for taking commitments in the New York Declaration forward was the “Concordia Summit” organized by Columbia University, UNHCR and IOM, with funding from the Open Society Foundations and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
During the Concordia Summit, private sector actors joined governments and intergovernmental agencies in lively exchange of experience, practices, innovations and strategies for media, public opinion and governance. Panel after panel featured private actors who have stepped in with response “outside the box”, from organizing ships and patrols that have rescued tens of thousands of refugees and migrants in distress in sea, to building systems for skills-matching of refugees to job availabilities and shortages in safe countries, to private sponsorship of refugees for resettlement. (Read more here.)
Foundations and private actors also committed funds in support of refugee integration, employment and education programmes. Most stunning was the commitment of USD $500 million dollars by George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC and founder of Open Society Foundations, to invest in “start-ups, established companies, social-impact initiatives and businesses founded by migrants and refugees themselves” that benefit migrants and refugees arriving in Europe or “benefitting migrants all over the world”. (Read more here.)
Side event snapshot and video Shadow Summit: The US Response to Central American Refugees (sponsored by Alianza Americas, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS), Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Latin America Working Group (LAWG) and Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC)).
Immediately preceding the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees 20 September, experts, academics and civil society met for a shadow summit at the Center for Migration Studies of New York. The event looked at the U.S. record in its own backyard, specifically the policy response to unaccompanied children and families fleeing violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America. Speakers graded U.S. policies from a humanitarian perspective, examining push factors, protection needs, and the impact of enforcement and deterrence strategies. (See recordings of the event plenary and panels discussions here)
Side event snapshots with UNTV video: Beyond September 19 - Responding to Migrants in Crisis: The Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Initiative and Addressing Human Trafficking in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations
In this event two issues were addressed in two panels: the Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Initiative; and Addressing Human Trafficking in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations. You will find civil society interventions from the Colin Rajah, Global Coalition on Migration (at 44.05), and John K. Bingham, International Catholic Migration Commission (the former at 1.00.05 and the latter at 2:02.10 of the recording of the event).
Side event snapshot with UNTV video: Mobilizing a “Whole of Society” Response to Refugees
(Governments of Canada and Ecuador, UNCHR)
Side event snapshot with UNTV video: Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants: Global Challenge, Regional Responses, Comprehensive Strategy
(Permanent Missions of Italy, the Netherlands, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Jordan, Nigeria, Niger and Senegal, IOM, UNHCR)
Side event snapshot with UNTV video: San José Action Statement: A Regional Response to Address Protection Needs
(Permanent Missions of Costa Rica, Mexico, and the United States of America, the Organization of American States, UNCHR)
|Advocacy, action and promise-keeping at and after the Summit
Joint civil society “ActNow” statement and scorecard responding to the New York Declaration hits over 100 signatories
As a starting point for the civil society meeting on 18 September, as well as civil society action beyond the Summit, over 100 civil society organizations released an ActNow statement and ‘scorecard’, responding to and providing a short analysis of the New York Declaration.
The “ActNow” statement urges states to take seven immediate actions to truly make a difference: a “difference on the ground for the millions of refugees, migrants and internally displaced people (IDPs) in need of protection, safe passage, solidarity, inclusion, decent work and livelihoods, and for the societies that host them”.
The scorecard rates —at times positively, but more often negatively— a number of the commitments in the Declaration compared to baselines that the civil society Action Committee had published, respectively before and while UN Member States were negotiating the outcome: “A New Deal for refugees, migrants and societies” and “key tests of success.” Most negatively rated was the conspicuous reluctance of governments to commit to sharing responsibility for refugees in practice, now. Other
commitments in the Declaration met with more hope or anticipation, in particular the development of the Global Compact on Migration, and the launch of a global campaign, with national support, against xenophobia and for social inclusion, entitled "Together - Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.” It remains to be seen how these global initiatives will develop and really impact realities on the ground.
The ActNow statement and scorecard was drafted in consultation with the 22 members of the global, self-organized civil society Action Committee, and is still open for signatures using this link
“Act Now” commitment rings: Civil Society initiative during and after the UN Summit
Members of civil society were to be spotted during the UN Summit, the Leader’s Summit on Refugees and various side and shadow events wearing bright orange rings, with the words ‘Act Now’ embossed on them. With orange the colour of change, and rings a symbol of commitment, sporting these rings is a symbol of the wearer’s commitment to bring change in and beyond the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants. The wearers call on governments, civil society and all stakeholders to share responsibility and shape solutions to:
The rings urge us all to remember that refugees and migrants may lose many things when they move, but never their human rights and dignity.
- Save lives and ensure safe passage for all people on the move
- Promote and protect the rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of status
- Recognise and promote the contributions that refugees and migrants make to the countries to and from which they move
- Combat and combat xenophobia, racism and discrimination in all communities, countries and regions of the world
Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Civil Society Days 2016
The two GFMD Civil Society Days 2016 and one Common Space Day with states are taking place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, within the five days of GFMD from 8-12 December. This is only three months after the 19 September Summit for Refugees and Migrants. As detailed in the Civil Society Days Concept Note, this year’s programme will be strongly linked to the outcomes of the High-level Summit, in particular the process to develop a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular
migration, guiding principles and voluntary guidelines for migrants in vulnerable situations who may not be recognized for international protection but need assistance (New York Declaration paragraph 52), the global campaign against xenophobia and for social inclusion, and ending detention of children. Please see the dedicated Civil Society Days webpage for more details of the event.
UN “Together” Campaign launched to highlight the positive contributions made by refugees and migrants
During the UN Summit on 19 September, the UN Member States launched a new campaign called Together – Respect, Safety and Dignity for All. The short introduction offered on the campaign webpage quotes UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during the Summit: "Acting together, we can respond to rising xenophobia and turn fear into hope. I call on world leaders to join this campaign and commit together to upholding the rights and dignity of everyone forced by circumstance to flee their homes in search of a better life". The webpage mentions that more information will be added soon.
Note: this is a sampling of resources recently published. A more comprehensive collection of resources published in recent months regarding the Summits on 19 and 20 September is available on the civil society website for the Summit, www.migrants-refugees-civilsociety.org/documents-and-links/
Civil society: A sampling
UK academics call on UN to defend the rights of people in need of humanitarian protection
Mercy Corps: An Ounce of Prevention: Why increasing investment in conflict prevention is worth more than a “pound of cure” in addressing the displacement crisis
IRC, Migrant Voice, MSF, World Vision, UNHCR: Refugees & charities display ‘lifejacket graveyard’ in Parliament Square as world leaders meet at United Nations Migration Summit in New York.
IRC: Meet the 1%: An inside look at refugee resettlement
Brookings Institution: The Refugee and Migration Crisis: Proposals for Action, U.N. SUMMIT 2016
United Nations, Member States and International Organisations
New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (13 September 2016)
Statement by the UN human rights mechanisms on the occasion of the UN High Level Summit on large movements of refugees and migrants
An open letter by OCHA, UNDP, IRC, NRC and the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons - The Invisible Majority: Helping Internally Displaced Persons
WHO: Recognizing health as a human right for refugees and migrants
IOM Addresses Migration, Population Mobility and Health at UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants
Joint Statement on Leaders’ Summit on Refugees (by the governments of Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico, Sweden, and the United States)
FACT SHEET: White House Announces Commitments to the Call to Action for Private Sector Engagement on the Global Refugee Crisis
UN PRESS RELEASE – New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted by all Member States at historic UN Summit
UNHCR: International Solidarity in Action at Leaders’ Summit on Refugees
In the news: snapshots
Newsweek - How the United Nations’ new agreement on the Global migrant and refugee crisis might work
News Deeply - ‘Very Little Courage or Leadership in Refugee Crisis’ – Migration Chief
Washington Post - States are ducking their responsibilities to refugees. This U.N. declaration might just start to change that
People’s world - AFL-CIO Exec. VP Tefere Gebre addresses immigration on two coasts
Anglican Communion News Service - Strong welcome for UN refugee agreement – but action must follow
IRIN – Plenty of hype, no new ideas at UN migration summit
Reuters – U.S. says some 360,000 refugee spots pledged at United Nations
Al Jazeera – Obama at UNGA: Refugee crisis a test of our humanity
Time – President Obama: U.S. Will Accept 110,000 Refugees From Around the World
The Guardian – US-led coalition to double refugee resettlement places and expand aid
|With solidarity and shared ambition,
Ms. Wies MAAS in New York (email@example.com) and
Ms. Emer GROARKE in Brussels (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ms. Melissa PITOTTI in Geneva
Ms. Eva SANDIS in New York
The HLS Civil Society Action Committee is convened by:
ICMC MADE Network
International Council of Voluntary Agencies
NGO Committee on Migration (New York)