In December 2018, a majority of United Nation (UN) Member States endorsed the final drafts of the Global Compact on Migration (GCM) and Global Compact on Refugees (GCR).1 The Compacts provide a framework for collaboration and responsibility-sharing when responding to migrant flows and refugee emergencies across the globe. Both documents lay out a number of objectives for accomplishing safer, more organized migration routes that are undergirded by guiding principles.
Now as the UN, its Member States, and other stakeholders turn toward implementation, the international community must grapple with the task of finding ways to actualize the Compacts’ objectives. Of particular concern for many stakeholders, including refugees and other forcibly displaced people themselves, is the ways in which refugees will be included in how this implementation will take place.
Both documents include calls for refugee and migrant participation in implementing the agreements.2 The GCR in particular calls for a December 2019 ministerial-level meeting called the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) in Geneva where Member States and other stakeholders can make “pledges” to actualize objectives from the GCR through policy changes, programs, funding, and other actions.3 However, it is still unclear how refugees will be included at the GRF.
This paper explores the principles that should underlie participatory processes and the barriers facing UNHCR in implementing a meaningful participation process for refugees. I ultimately provide recommendations for steps UNHCR can take and modalities through which meaningful participation of refugees can be facilitated at the GRF. The findings of this paper have emerged through an iterative, collaborative process combining scholarship on participatory processes and stakeholder engagement, interviews with experts and scholars, and an examination of models of refugee participation in a variety of settings.
Professional paper for the fulfillment of the Master of Human Rights degree.
Facilitating Meaningful Participation of Refugees at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum: Key Considerations, Barriers to Realization, and Recommendations.
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