ECRE has published a Policy Note “Global Means Global: Europe and the Global Compact on Refugees” which sets out how the EU should take forward the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) within and outside Europe. It identifies sections of the GCR that are particularly pertinent in this respect and provides related recommendations.
As part of the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants in 2016, UN Member States agreed to negotiate two global compacts to be adopted by the UN General Assembly, one on refugees, the other on safe, orderly and regular migration. With the passage of the so called ‘omnibus’ resolution on the work of UNHCR in the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural (Third) Committee of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, 13th November, the Global Compact on Refugees is one step closer to being affirmed by the General Assembly before the end of this year. It was the first time that a vote was called on the ‘omnibus’ resolution which was adopted with 176 votes in favour, three abstentions (Eritrea, Libya and Liberia) and one vote against (USA).
In the Policy Note ECRE argues that the EU’s commitment to the GCR is undermined by the different measures currently used or proposed to shirk rather than share responsibility for refugees. The GCR applies to EU Member States both in the way they act domestically and in their approach to third countries on asylum, displacement and migration. Therefore, the application of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) to Europe as a region should not be dismissed but viewed as an opportunity.
In addition, the EU and European governments should ensure that the negotiations of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which will govern the EU’s budget from 2021-2027, decides on funding priorities and programmes that support the objectives of the GCR. This pertains to the role of the EU and its Member States who are collectively the world’s biggest development donor as well as the considerable support the EU provides for asylum seekers and refugees within Europe.
The EU should support participation and empowerment of refugees and host communities as the GCR contains few concrete proposals on the active participation of refugees and host communities in its implementation. Engagement with civil society is an area where the EU should share its good practice to create a change in the way in which refugee policy is discussed, developed and implemented.
ECRE argues that the upcoming adoption of the GCR provides the EU with a renewed impetus to implement its commitment to humanitarian-development cooperation as part of its overall approach to forced displacement which is set out in its 2016 Communication, Lives in Dignity: from Aid-Dependence to Self-reliance.
Significantly expanding safe and legal routes to the EU and safeguarding the right to claim asylum in Europe are some of the most important contributions the EU can make to the implementation of the GCR. As a contribution to the measures outlined in the GCR on resettlement, the EU should continuously expand its resettlement from the current 50,000 places pledged over a two-year period, a commitment that runs out in October 2019. In addition, Member States should expand other safe and legal routes for refugees and withdraw restrictions on family reunification.
The preparation of the EU’s collective commitments ahead of the 2019 Global Refugee Forum, where all UN Member States and relevant stakeholders, including civil society, are expected to make pledges on contributing to the implementation of the GCR needs to start now. Those pledges need to cover how the EU supports the objectives of the GCR within and outside Europe. A dedicated accountability mechanism which records and tracks commitments is essential given the non-binding nature of the GCR. The European Commission should report regularly on progress towards achieving the indicators and the European Parliament should be given a role in monitoring the fulfilment of the pledges and the specific amount of funding from the EU budget that supports implementation of the GCR.
For further information:
- UNHCR, Advanced Version of the Global Compact on Refugees, July 2018
- UN General Assembly, Omnibus resolution adopted 13th November at the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural (Third) Committee of the UN General Assembly, November 2018
- UNHCR, Press Release on adoption of Omnibus Resolution, November 2018
- U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Explanation of USA vote against the Omnibus resolution at the UNGA Third Committee, November 2018