By IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub

8 May 2018: UN Member States began discussion on the second draft of the global compact on refugees, which was issued by UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi on 3 May 2018. According to the draft, a Global Refugee Forum would be convened every four years and would provide an opportunity to make new pledges and to take stock of and review the implementation of previous pledges to progress toward the achievement of the compact’s objectives.

The latest draft serves as a basis for discussions at the fourth formal consultations on the compact taking place from 8-10 May 2018, in Geneva, Switzerland. Opening the consultations, Volker Türk, UNHCR, remarked that the second draft is a compromise text, and expressed hope that that it could move delegates closer to consensus. The draft includes a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), as agreed to by UN Member States in the New York Declaration, as well as a programme of action to operationalize the principles of the Declaration.

Highlighting the main changes brought to the second draft (compared to the first draft), Türk noted that age, gender and diversity considerations have been further strengthened throughout the text, including references to those with disabilities. In the introductory part of the text, Türk said that a new subsection on ‘Guiding principles’ has been added to include more references to relevant human rights instruments, the humanitarian principles, and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

On the programme of action, Türk said the proposed periodic global refugee summit has been renamed ‘the Global Refugee Forum,’ and may be co-hosted and co-convened by States, together with UNHCR. He added that the periodicity of the Forum has been changed to four years “to accommodate those who think every three years is too short, and others who think five years is too long.” By the second draft of the compact, the first Forum would convene in 2019, with subsequent fora taking place every four years, starting from 2021. From 2021, the draft says, the forum would provide an opportunity to make new pledges, and to take stock of and review the implementation of previous pledges in order to progress toward the achievement of the compact’s objectives.

On funding, Türk noted that the potential contributions by the private sector have been strengthened in the second draft, and the “multi-stakeholder approach” has been amended to also include partnerships, with more detail added on humanitarian and development actors, the UN system, national parliamentarians, and the role of UNHCR. He also specified that the data and evidence section includes stronger references to data protection and data privacy, and that further detail is provided on the process envisaged for “measuring the impact” of hosting refugees.

On meeting needs and supporting communities, Türk said the need for investments in closing the technology gap and scaling up capacity development for developing and least developed (LDC) refugee-hosting countries is emphasized in the energy, natural resources, and other sections of the draft.

On follow-up and review, he highlighted the proposed mechanism for tracking pledges. This mechanism would be established by UNHCR, which will compile and report on the realization and implementation of pledges and contributions and “on their impact where possible,” prior to each Global Refugee Forum.

Türk is expected to brief delegates and other stakeholders on the outcomes of the fourth formal consultations on the global compact on refugees on 11 May 2018 in New York, US.

Also on refugee matters, the UN Environment Management Group (EMG) has initiated a Peer Review Process in Kenya, in order to support UNHCR in improving the environmental management of its facilities and operations in the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Kakuma is one of UNHCR’s largest camps, with approximately 180,000 refugees, and faces a crisis brought on by refugee flows from South Sudan.

EMG’s environmental assessment, which was initiated in February 2018, aims to identify actions to reduce impacts and improve the capacity and willingness of host countries to accept and care for the refugees. It seeks to enhance the sustainability and energy efficiency in the camp, reduce costs, improve quality of life, and establish benchmarks for further improvement, monitoring and reporting on environmental management. The review is being carried out by representatives from UNHCR, the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UN Women and others. The final report will serve as an example for similar cases in other parts of world. [UNHCR letter announcing briefing and second draft] [Opening remarks of UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on first draft of compact] [UNHCR website for compact process] [UN website for compact process] [EMG newsletter, January-March 2018]

Source:: IISD – International Negotiations

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