World leaders adopt breakthrough declaration on refugees at UN
Leaders from 193 countries on Monday adopted a “breakthrough” declaration to save the lives of over 65 million refugees and migrants and share responsibility as the world grapples with the unprecedented refugee crisis.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon congratulated Member States on the 22-page ‘New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants’ adopted at the first-ever summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants at the UN General Assembly.
“The Summit represents a breakthrough in our collective efforts to address the challenges of human mobility,” he said.
The declaration is not legally binding and lacks concrete commitments but calls on countries to protect refugees’ human rights, boost humanitarian aid and work on their resettlement.
Ban said the adoption of the declaration would mean that “more children can attend school; more workers can securely seek jobs abroad, instead of being at the mercy of criminals and smugglers, and more people will have real choices about whether to move once we end conflict, sustain peace and increase opportunities at home.”
“I will take forward the commitment of the membership to begin a process, leading to a global compact on migration, as well as to support a global compact on refugees,” said Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly.
“I will be urging Member States to maintain their high levels of ambition throughout these processes, and to always reach for the higher ground. The fate of millions of refugees and migrants rests with us.” By adopting the declaration, Member States are making bold commitments including: to start negotiations leading to an international conference and the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in 2018; to develop guidelines on the treatment of migrants in vulnerable situations; to achieve a more equitable sharing of the burden and responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees by adopting a global compact on refugees in 2018.
As called for in the declaration, Ban also launched a new campaign called ‘Together - Respect, Safety and Dignity for All’ to ‘respond to rising xenophobia and turn fear into hope’.
He urged “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 secretary general and the director general of the International Organization for Migration on Monday signed the new agreement by which IOM becomes a related organisation of the UN, thus strengthening the comprehensive global approach to migration.