Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has thrown her weight, and that of the Commonwealth, behind plans for a global agreement to end the refugee and migration crisis around the world. The global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration is part of the agenda for sustainable development and achieving full respect for the human rights of migrants by 2030. It will be discussed at a round table event at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
“I would like to commend this initiative of Secretary-General Ban-Ki-Moon and the UNGA president, Peter Thomson,” the Secretary-General will say. “This high-level plenary meeting is a bold response to forced displacement of populations, which has now become a global crisis that requires our collective effort as the international community.”
She will stress the importance of nations considering how best to use the mechanisms needed to tackle the crisis, such as economic, political, legal, humanitarian aspects. This year, UN member states will begin the process of intergovernmental negotiations, leading to the adoption of the compact in 2018.
Secretary-General Scotland will say: “The Commonwealth will play an important role to ensure that this global compact leaves no one behind by identifying specific challenges faced by our member states, especially small nations, which represent the majority of our members.”
Migration remains a big challenge for the Commonwealth:
· 80% of refugees are hosted in the developing world
· Pakistan hosts more than 1.7 million refugees, more than any other country in the world
· African countries account for 40% of all Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
· Conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Somalia are crucial factors which lead to the increase in refugees in East Africa, particularly Uganda and Kenya
· Of the more than 850,000 asylum seekers worldwide, nearly 200,000 are present in South Africa alone
· East Africa, Southern Africa, the Caribbean and South Pacific regions of the Commonwealth are particularly vulnerable to migration based on the effect of climate change
As well as focusing on the challenges of climate change on migration, the Secretary-General will be calling on leaders to pay more attention to the needs of young people.
“Our young people represent more than 60% of our total population. We recognise they have an important role in building stable, secure and prosperous societies,” she will say. “In this regard, we strongly believe that the proposed compact must identify specific needs and vulnerabilities of young people, who constitute one third of the world’s international migrants. We need to engage with them to find durable and innovative solutions.”
Secretary-General Scotland will also make a passionate case to protect women, who make up half the world’s international migrants.
“The Commonwealth member states have made clear political commitments to address collectively the causes of irregular migration, while ensuring full respect for human rights and the humane treatment of migrants,” she will conclude.