Symposium on Internal Displacement

May 22, 2018

While much of the world’s attention focuses on refugees, the plight of people displaced within the borders of their countries – internally displaced persons (IDPs) — is often even more challenging. In fact there are twice as many IDPs as refugees in the world and they are usually closer to the violence that displaced them. The public symposium provided an overview of the challenges facing IDPs and the present ad hoc international system for protecting and assisting them. The afternoon strategy session discussed options for raising the visibility of IDPs on the global agenda and for catalyzing a more coherent international response and agreed on a strategy for mobilizing support for these ideas.

Speakers included:

  • Cecilia Jimenez–Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, Manila, Philippines
  • Alexandra Bilak–Director, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Phil Orchard–Associate Professor, University of Wollongong, Australia
  • Greta Zeender–UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, New York
  • Devota Nuwe–World Refugee Council, Kampala, Uganda
  • David Cantor–Professor, University of London
  • Walter Kälin–Envoy of the Platform on Disaster Displacement, Bern, Switzerland
  • Elizabeth Eyster–Senior Protection Officer, UNHCR, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Kerry Maze–Senior Crisis Migration Analyst, IOM, Geneva, Switzerland

Results: The public event contained presentations that, among other things, described the extent and types of internal displacement worldwide. Discussion during the off-the-record strategy session led to the government of Norway, along with 36 co-sponsoring governments, writing to the UN Secretary-General to recommend the establishment of a high-level panel on internal displacement (which was one of the recommendations from the group’s discussion). The World Refugee Council picked up the other recommendations from this discussion in its report, A Call To Action, which was published in January 2019 and will monitor their implementation. The report can be found here.

Symposium on Responsibility-Sharing for Refugees

April 16, 2018

The international refugee system has, over the years, protected and assisted millions of refugees fleeing persecution and violence. But, as numbers increase, the burden of supporting refugees is felt unevenly. 85% of the world’s refugees seek protection in developing countries where host governments often feel abandoned by the international community. This Symposium considered the challenge of how to develop a more effective system of sharing responsibility for refugees, including current efforts to develop a new Global Compact on Refugees, civil society efforts to determine a ‘fair share’ allocation of refugees, and the implications of the Trump administration’s policies on the global refugee system.

Speakers included:

  • Elizabeth Ferris–Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University
  • James Milner–Carleton University, Canada
  • Ninette Kelley–UNHCR representative in New York
  • David Donoghue–(former Irish Ambassador to the UN and chief negotiator for the New York Declaration), Dublin, Ireland
  • Tristan Harley–University of New South Wales, Australia
  • Sarnata Reynolds–Oxfam, USA
  • David Cantor–Refugee Law Initiative, University of London
  • Anne Richard–(former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration and Georgetown Centennial Fellow), USA

Results: The public event contained presentations that, among other things, described responsibility-sharing frameworks used by countries in the past and the consequences of inadequate responsibility-sharing mechanisms for countries on the front line. Suggestions made at the off-the-record strategy session for strengthening responsibility-sharing were fed into discussions and negotiations related to the Global Compact on Refugees and the World Refugee Council.