On the 19th September, UN member states gathered in New York to address the large movements of refugees and migrants. The primary purpose of this summit was to create a viable mechanism for sharing of refugee resettlement duties on the UN states. The summit established the New York Declaration, which calls on countries which can resettle or reunite many refugees to do so. It asks the richest regions to recognise their responsibilities and provide timely and dependable humanitarian funding. Also, host countries are called upon to increase the opportunities of work for the adult refugees and education for children. There are currently 65 million people with refugee status across the world, as stated by the UNHCR; this is the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.
“Refugees and migrants are not to be seen as a burden; they offer great potential, if only we unlock it. We must place the human rights of all refugees and migrants at the heart of our commitments.”
– Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, opening address to the Summit.
However, the Summit was deeply criticised by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Oxfam; for lacking proposal of substance and removing key resettlement obligation on member states. Moreover, Human Rights Watch called the draft of the final document a “missed opportunity”; the declaration brings nothing new to the scenery. It reiterates the standard human rights and norms. The summit ended without an agreement on how to tackle the refugee crisis, without a mechanism or solution.
“What we got here are no concrete commitments to address this problem. What we got here was just some flowery language.”
– Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam
Overall, the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants represents a small step forward, but fails to address the current crisis in a proper way and offer long-term solutions.