The Expert Roundtable on EU policies supporting development and lasting solutions for displaced populations, organised jointly by ECRE, UNHCR and the European Commission in Brussels on 13 October 2014, was the final and concluding event to the two year long DOMAID project – Dialogue on migration and asylum in development. The aim of the Roundtable was to discuss the role that the EU can play as a global donor and policy actor supporting protection and solutions for the displaced around the world in the coming years, hence contributing to the EU’s ongoing and future programming. The Expert Roundtable brought together representatives of the European Commission, the European External Action Service, Member States, UN agencies, international organisations and NGOs. The report provides a summary of the discussions and key recommendations from the Roundtable.
Participants agreed that the current model of response to forced displacement needs to be revisited and steps need to be taken towards building a new model which will promote realistic solutions from the outset. Displacement has to be addressed from the very moment an emergency arises with a view to establishing long term development approaches, instead of getting involved after the humanitarian response has been phased out.
It is important to recognise, map and bring forward the beneficial development and socio-economic effects of refugee and displaced populations. More data needs to be collected on the positive effects on host communities and more research needs to be conducted on how these benefits can be further fostered and advanced. Refugee advocacy needs to incorporate this positive message about the contribution that refugees and IDPs can make at national level.
Holistic approaches are needed, ones which include all those concerned, host governments and donor states. As a global donor and policy actor the EU can play an important role at national level, in cooperation with host countries concerned and individual Member State donors. Essentially, the only way to reach lasting solutions is by building partnerships and working in cooperation with governments of partner countries. NGOs also highlighted the need to strengthen engagement with local host communities, local actors and key stakeholders.
Finally, while promoting the role of refugees and IDPs as economic actors and the potential of developmental solutions, it is important to ensure that fundamental rights are safeguarded throughout the process. Capacity building in the field of good governance, justice and democratisation needs to support institutions and frameworks constructed to safeguard human rights, and support the relevant country to meet its international obligations, further working to ensure the protection of the rights of refugees and IDPs. Seeing the displaced as economic actors and highlighting the need to support their self-reliance essentially entails the need to ensure a status and a set of economic, social and cultural rights including residence, work and mobility.