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The International Rescue Committee’s perspective on the zero draft of the Global Compact for Refugees

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The “zero draft” of the UN Global Compact for Refugees (GCR), a nonbinding commitment by countries to improve the international response to displacement, is a welcome document in its objectives and vision. However, without clear outcomes and targets for the changes we want to see in the lives of refugees and their host communities, there is little to drive action and keep governments accountable. The draft offers a menu of suggested ways to move towards a comprehensive refugee response, but falls short in offering a clear direction on roles and responsibilities. Although there is a strong emphasis on a multi-stakeholder approach—rightly putting refugees themselves at the center of the compact—it lets governments off the hook, potentially weakening States’ responsibilities.

The IRC does welcome some components of the draft. Notably, its emphasis on refugee livelihoods and education, embrace of development actors like the World Bank, and linkages with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Further defining links with the SDGs could offer a way to hold signatories accountable for results.  IRC has long grounded our programming in evidence, so it is encouraging to see the draft outline a clear commitment to data collection and evidence generation. 

 “Our collective focus over the next several months needs to be making sure this document sets us all up to truly improve the lives of millions of refugees who seek international protection every day” says Sarah Charles, Sr. Director for Humanitarian Policy.  “We need the Global Compact on Refugees to be exactly that: a global deal, with clear outcomes and a concrete way to get there--not a menu of suggestions for a coalition of the willing.  Inviting governments to pick and choose what they can do puts this agreement on a dangerous path that could undermine our collective responsibility to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Along with this statement, the IRC has co-authored a joint NGO statement on the zero draft

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.