UN Member States discussed the organizational arrangements of the high-level meeting (HLM) to address large movements of refugees and migrants taking place on 19 September 2016.
Providing feedback on a draft Decision on modalities, Member States addressed the HLM's scope, level of participation, stakeholder participation and outcome, among other elements.
The co-facilitators prepared the draft Decision following informal consultations with Member States on 2 March and 18 March 2016.
7 April 2016: UN Member States discussed the organizational arrangements of the September 2016 high-level meeting (HLM) to address large movements of refugees and migrants. Providing feedback on a draft Decision on modalities, Member States addressed the HLM’s scope, level of participation, stakeholder participation and outcome, among other elements. The co-facilitators prepared the draft Decision following informal consultations with Member States on 2 March and 18 March 2016.
In a decision of December 2015, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) requested UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to prepare a report and recommendations on ways to address large movements of refugees and migrants, by May 2016, and decided to convene a high-level plenary meeting on the issue at the start of the 71st UNGA session. Karen AbuZayd, US, was appointed Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General to work with UN entities and consult with Member States and others in the lead-up to the HLM, as well as to oversee the report. Dina Kawar, Permanent Representative of Jordan, and David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland, were appointed co-facilitators of the HLM.
The informal meeting to consult on the draft Decision took place on 7 April 2016, in New York, US. During the three meetings, Member States said the HLM should: highlight positive narratives about migration (Bangladesh, the Philippines); look at migration as a global issue (Bangladesh, Iran, the Philippines); highlight development planning, and provide a platform for Member States to reaffirm their commitments to international human rights laws (US); address unilateral measures (Syria); emphasize the need for international burden sharing (EU, Turkey); take into account the different levels of economic development between origin and destination countries (Brazil); address protracted refugee situations and repeated displacement (Palestine); include regional organizations (Mexico); address xenophobia, racism and intolerance (Iran); address human trafficking and smuggling (Eritrea, EU, Myanmar); and discuss the link between migration and climate change (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji).
Japan, Philippines, Switzerland, Turkey and the US said the High-level Meeting should take into account the outcome of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in May 2016, while India noted reservations with regard to making the outcome of the WHS a basis for negotiations, as that will not be a negotiated outcome. Bangladesh said the September HLM should be a stepping stone towards a UN process for ensuring safe, orderly and regular migration. The US noted that the UNGA’s High-level Meeting will be complementary to US President Barack Obama’s Summit for Refugees, scheduled to take place on 20 September 2016, which aims to catalyze commitments.
On the scope of the HLM, Bangladesh said it should address all forms of human mobility. The EU and US stressed the need to also address internally displaced persons (IDPs), which India and Iran opposed.
On the level of participation, China, supported by Japan, requested more flexibility for Member States, such as “at the highest level possible, preferable at the level of Head of State or Government,” while Canada and Turkey supported the formulation in the draft Decision: “Member States would be invited to participate at the level of Head of State or Government.”
On stakeholder participation in the HLM, China, Egypt, Iran, the Russian Federation and Syria said participation should be in compliance with the procedures of the UNGA, and that NGOs not affiliated with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) should be considered on a “non-objection basis.” Brazil, Canada, the EU, Japan, Mexico, Palestine, Philippines and US expressed preference for an open, transparent and inclusive process, including in the preparatory meetings. India said stakeholders’ participation could follow the example of the negotiations on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Palestine called for a clear reference to observers and to integrate them in the process. Switzerland stressed the need to highlight private sector participation.
On the outcome document of the HLM, China said it should be negotiated by Member States on the basis of consensus, and Syria suggested a basis of compromise. Brazil was “particularly in favor” of a negotiated outcome with practical recommendations, and wished to begin negotiations soon after the release of the Secretary-General’s report and recommendations. Switzerland said the outcome document should be informed by discussions in other international meetings, such as the WHS, and, supported by Canada, that the co-facilitators should be “the penholders.” Iran and Argentina preferred “line by line negotiations” that could lead to a consensual text, which Japan opposed. China, Egypt, Iran and Myanmar called for the outcome document to address the root causes of migration and express clear commitments.
Donoghue said the discussion on modalities will continue on 19 April, and should conclude by the end of April, so Member States can move into substantive negotiations following the release of the Secretary-General’s report. The co-facilitators plan to circulate a revised draft decision a week before the 19 April consultations. [Co-Facilitators’ Letter and draft Decision] [IISD RS Story on Non-Paper] [IISD RS Sources]