UN members adopt Global Compact on Refugees
A majority of UN member states have voted in favour of the Global Compact on Refugees. The agreement aims to guide the international community in supporting refugees and countries and communities hosting large numbers through the mobilisation of political will.
The UN member states on December 17, 2018 voted in favour of the Global Compact on Refugees, affirming international solidarity and cooperation for refugee protection and host community development.
The Global Compact on refugees received 181 votes in favour in the 193-member assembly, days after a UN conference in Morocco adopted a similar compact on migration. The United States and Hungary were the only two nations that voted against the agreement, while 181 countries voted in favour and the Dominican Republic, Eritrea and Libya abstained.
According to an official press release, the new global deal would provide more robust support to those fleeing their countries and for the countries that take them in.
The global compact on refugees establishes the architecture for a stronger, more predictable and more equitable international response to large refugee situations.
The agreement aims to guide the international community in supporting refugees and countries and communities hosting large numbers through the mobilisation of political will, broadening of the base of support and the activation of arrangements for more equitable and predictable burden and responsibility sharing.
Four key objectives of the Global Compact:
1. Ease pressures on countries that host large numbers of refugees;
2. Build self-reliance of refugees.
3. Expand access to third-country or refugees through resettlement and other pathways of admission.
4. Support conditions that enable refugees to return to their countries of origin.
In the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, adopted in September 2016, the UN General Assembly decided to develop a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.
The declaration gave birth to two compacts: one on refugees and one on migrants. The global migration pact, known as the ‘Global Compact for Safe, orderly and Regular Migration’, was formally adopted by 164 Governments at an international conference in Marrakech, Morocco on December 10 in a bid to support safe, orderly and regular migration.
The global migration pact and global compact on refugees are both, voluntary in nature and not legally binding instruments.
Although both are groups of people who live outside of their countries of origin, there are crucial distinctions between the terms ‘refugee” and ‘migrant’.
Refugees are people who are forced to leave their country of origin under the fear of persecution, conflict, generalised violence or other circumstances that have seriously disturbed public order and, as a result, require international protection.
Migrants are people who change their countries of usual residence, irrespective of the reason for migration or legal status. Migrants make a conscious choice to leave their country to seek a better life elsewhere.
There are more than 25 million refugees worldwide and just 10 countries host around 60 percent of them. Most host countries are middle- or low-income ones and the compact seeks to more equitably distribute the burden-sharing and help make refugees more self-reliant.