UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has welcomed the historic adoption of the New York Declaration by 193 governments at today’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, during the first-ever UN Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.
Amidst unprecedented levels of people on the move, the Summit brings together government and UN leaders and representatives of civil society to better safeguard the rights of refugees and migrants and share responsibility on a global scale.
“Today we have an extraordinary opportunity to change gear,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, speaking at the opening of the UNGA today.
Grandi said the Declaration “marks a political commitment of unprecedented force and resonance.”
“It fills what has been a perennial gap in the international refugee protection system – that of truly sharing responsibility for refugees, in the spirit of the UN Charter.”
The New York Declaration calls on countries which can resettle or reunite many more refugees to do so. It also calls for those in the richer part of the world to recognize their responsibility to provide timely and dependable humanitarian funding, while robustly investing in communities that host large numbers of refugees. Host countries are called upon to increase opportunities for refugee adults to work and for children to go to school. The Declaration commits governments to better address the drivers and triggers causing the record numbers of forcibly displaced in today’s world.
The Declaration also tasks UNHCR to develop a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, setting out a blueprint for a stronger system with more reliable funding and early engagement of development actors to help those forced to flee their homes and the communities hosting them.
Grandi pledged to work with world leaders to manage forced displacement in a principled manner, and resolve it with courage and vision. He called on governments to provide political engagement, funding and concrete acts of solidarity in support of host countries and pursuit of solutions for refugees.
“The world – shocked by images of people fleeing in huge numbers and dying at sea – does not want our intentions to remain on paper. It demands practical action and results.”
Today’s adoption of the New York Declaration will be followed on Tuesday by a Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis, convened by U.S. President Barack Obama. Here, participants are expected to make concrete pledges in the form of additional funding, new resettlement places or more opportunities for refugees in host communities.