UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convened and chaired a high-level meeting on migration and refugee movements on the sidelines of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), with a focus on various policy areas, from refugees and human rights, smuggling and trafficking to sustainable development and migration.
1 October 2015: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convened and chaired a high-level meeting on migration and refugee movements on the sidelines of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), with a focus on various policy areas, from refugees and human rights, smuggling and trafficking to sustainable development and migration.
Titled ‘Strengthening cooperation on migration and refugee movements in the perspective of the new development agenda,’ the event was organized by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and aimed to address the challenges, responsibilities and also opportunities brought by large migrant and refugee movements. It took place at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 30 September 2015.
Ban said migration can be well managed and refugee movements can be governed in “an efficient and principled” manner through cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination. However, he added, the international community must develop an “effective and feasible” response in line with universal human rights and humanitarian standards. He emphasized eight guiding principles when dealing with migrants and refugees: saving lives; protection; non-discrimination; preparedness; sharing responsibility; cooperation; managed migration; and anticipation of future challenges, including people fleeing areas “progressively ravaged by climate change.”
Ban also highlighted the World Humanitarian Summit, convening in Istanbul, Turkey, on 23-24 May 2016, which will bring together governments, humanitarian organizations, people affected by humanitarian crises and new partners, including the private sector, to set an agenda to keep humanitarian action “fit for the future.”
UNGA President Mogens Lykketoft urged caution with the terms “migrant” and “refugee,” noting that while countries must protect refugees, they have more flexibility in deciding how to deal with migrants. However, he stressed, that all migrants are entitled to protection under human rights law. He also underscored the need to: ensure comprehensive engagement by the UN system; review how humanitarian operations are funded; increase capacities for search-and-rescue operations at sea; bring the International Organization for Migration (IOM) into discussions; and address the root causes behind the crisis. Lykketoft said he will hold regular briefings and convene a UNGA meeting to address possible operational implications of the crisis and discuss empowering the UN system to develop a comprehensive approach.
Oh Joon, President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), called for addressing the root causes of migration, such as reducing inequalities and offering long-term economic opportunities and social protection for vulnerable groups. He noted his proposal to convene a special ECOSOC meeting on inequality in the first quarter of 2016. He also said ECOSOC will work with civil society partners to identify the policy options for a multi-sectoral response to the opportunities and challenges posed by migration, and the Council’s subsidiary bodies will play a role in the thematic review of the migration-related targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He noted that the UN Statistical Commission will adopt a framework of indicators, including on migration, in March 2016, and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice is addressing migrant smuggling and human trafficking.
In preparation for the World Humanitarian Summit, a UN press release notes, a global consultation process has taken place involving 23,000 people in 151 countries. The Synthesis Report of the consultations proposes five areas to help frame the Summit’s discussions: dignity, safety, resilience, partnerships and finance. In addition, the recommendations submitted by the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, set up by Ban in May 2015, will identify ways to close the gap between rising needs and the resources available to meet them. [UN Press Release] [Statement of UN Secretary-General] [Statement of UNGA President] [Meeting Webcast] [Meeting Announcement]