Some hoped the first UN summit on refugees would result in concrete resettlement pledges, but the 'New York Declaration' deferred major action until 2018.
UNITED NATIONS (Talk Media News) – With much of New York gripped by the manhunt for terror suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami, U.N. member states unanimously passed the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants on Monday, pledging to devise a global mechanism to handle the movement of refugees by 2018.
“We commit to launching, in 2016, a process of intergovernmental negotiations leading to the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration at an intergovernmental conference to be held in 2018,” the declaration read.
The framework developed by 2018 would reportedly include provisions to immediately register and document refugees “in the first country where they seek asylum” and address funding shortfalls that are currently hampering refugee response efforts in many countries.
It was originally hoped that wealthy nations would use Monday’s summit – the first ever hosted by the U.N. focused solely on the refugee crisis – to make bold and coordinated refugee resettlement pledges, but hopes for that have instead shifted to a separate meeting to be convened Tuesday by the U.S. in which pledges by individual countries will be announced.
“It’s a conference planning on doing a conference,” Dr. Georgette Bennett, founder of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA), said of Monday’s summit and the resulting declaration. “It says all the right things, but the devil is going to be in the details in terms of how these resolutions and agreements get implemented.”
Among the tricky details promised in the declaration are pledges to “ensure that refugee admissions policies or arrangements are in line with our obligations under international law,” that refugee camps will be only “temporary measure in response to an emergency” and that “quality primary and secondary education” will be provided to all refugee children “within a few months of the initial displacement.”
Refugee rights activists were quick to criticize the declaration for being all talk and no action.
“What will a refugee kid stuck in a camp for years without education do with the New York ‘Declaration?'” Amnesty International’s Sherif Elsayed-Ali wrote on Twitter. “So angry. A declaration & 2 more years of negotiations is all they could do for millions of refugees.”
U.N. member states have met many times in recent years to try and mobilize collective action to the global refugee crisis. Organizers of a massive World Humanitarian Summit convened in May aimed to establish a new model for sharing the burden of refugees, but in the end, participants resolved only to “pursue a new approach to address the needs of internally displaced persons and refugees.”
Top U.N. officials tried to remain upbeat about the outcome of Monday’s meeting, but were also clear that member states need to deliver on their promise of a comprehensive refugee response framework by 2018.
“The world – shocked by images of people fleeing in huge numbers and dying at sea – does not want our intentions to remain on paper. It demands practical action and results,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.