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Summary Report on a Conference Entitled ‘Parliaments and the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees: How to bring about Stronger International Cooperation and National Implementation’, 20th and 21st June 2022.

Adopted in December 2018, the United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) emerged, and have been negotiated in parallel as a concrete commitment to give substance to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2016. The compacts are voluntary, non-binding instruments that do not introduce any additional obligations for States.

H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Hassan Kaisamba (L), and Hon. Dr Abass C. Bundu, Speaker of Parliament of Sierra Leone (R)

The process was a good example of how to actively engage parliamentarians in major UN deliberations, as parliamentarians have a key role in the implementation of both compacts, as well as in holding their governments accountable for putting the provisions into practice. 

Hon. Dr Abass C. Bundu, Speaker of Parliament of Sierra Leone (L), and H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Hassan Kaisamba (R) 

The Global Compacts offer non-binding cooperative frameworks for States to address a variety of challenges linked to migration. The Global Compacts have each created dedicated mechanisms to examine progress towards implementation, discuss ongoing challenges and best practices, and identify new actions to govern migration. In this regard, the GCR established the Global Refugee Forum, to be held every four years, with the first held in 2019.

The GCM created the International Migration Review Forum, which is due to meet every four years and did so for the very first time in May 2022, during which it adopted a Progress Declaration. Although a certain amount of progress has been made in implementing both Global Compacts, much more needs to be done. For instance, only a limited number of countries have adopted ambitious national responses for the implementation of the GCM. In a similar vein, a limited number of countries, often with scarce resources, continue to host most of the word’s refugees, leaving the promise of more equitable burden-sharing that underpins the GCR largely unfulfilled.

The GCM sets out a common framework based on 23 objectives with different commitments and actions under each objective based on best practices. These objectives refer to member States’ actions, inter alia, to save lives and establish co-ordinated international efforts on missing migrants; to strengthen the transnational response to smuggling of migrants; to manage borders in an integrated, secure and co-ordinated manner; to provide access to basic services for migrants and also to ensure that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation.

Hon. Dr Abass C. Bundu, Speaker of Parliament of Sierra Leone (L), and H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Hassan Kaisamba (R) 

The GCR emanates from fundamental principles of humanity and international solidarity. It seeks to enhance humanitarian responses. It also seeks to operationalise the principles of burden and responsibility-sharing to better protect and assist refugees and support host countries and communities. Its key objectives are to ease the pressure on host countries, enhance refugee self-reliance, expand access to third-country solutions, and support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.

The challenges in implementing the Global Compacts are numerous. However, Europe is expected to become stronger in this regard. It must be better not in building frontiers, but in preserving the values of humanity in all areas, in mitigating power interests to protect people in the best way possible, and in ensuring the most effective translation into practice of world-level agreements in order to reach peace and prosperity for all.

The Grand National Assembly of Türkiye (GNAT) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) jointly organized a Conference on Parliaments and the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees. The Conference was held in Istanbul, Türkiye on 20th and 21st June 2022.

The global parliamentary conference offers an opportunity for parliaments and their members to take stock of the state of implementation of the Global Compacts and of old and new challenges that stand in the way of stronger collective, bilateral and national action. The conference aims to collect a series of best parliamentary practices and to identify further concrete steps that parliaments can take to promote more robust international cooperation and national implementation.

The event was held with the participation of Professor Dr. Mustafa SENTOP, Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye. The Parliament of Sierra Leone was represented by Honourable Dr. Abass C. Bundu, Speaker of Parliament. Other Parliamentarians from Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America were represented.

Deputy Ambassador Paul A.S. Minah (L), Hon. Dr Abass C. Bundu, Speaker of Parliament of Sierra Leone (C), and H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Hassan Kaisamba (R) 

The Conference aims to suggest future action that could be taken to effectively implement the two compacts, bearing in mind the challenges States might face in implementing them.

Given the importance of the topic under review, participation by Speakers of Parliament would contribute to highlighting the key role of parliaments as well as the determination to find concrete solutions to the problems involved.

The Conference highlighted that migration is a phenomenon that has always existed and will always exist. However, since 2000, migration has increased by 49% and currently, 3.4% of the world population are migrants. Good governance of this phenomenon is therefore needed in order to safeguard human dignity in the face of the scale of migratory flows, especially in the context of conflict and persecution.

It further pointed out that armed conflict and climate change are increasing the number of forcibly displaced people in the world, surpassing the mark of 79.5 million individuals. Refugees currently number over 25 million worldwide, of whom 60 % are accommodated by only 10 countries. Based on the available data, the proportion of women and girls in the refugee population was 48% in 2018, similar to the past few years. Research shows that migrants and refugees make a significant contribution to host and origin countries and that they contribute to economic growth by paying taxes than they receive in individual benefits.

Deputy Ambassador Paul A.S. Minah (L), Hon. Dr Abass C. Bundu, Speaker of Parliament of Sierra Leone (C-L),  H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Hassan Kaisamba (C), Miss Zainab Tholley Personal Assistance to Sierra Leone's Speaker of Parliament (C-R), and Mr Mohamed Lamin Khan, Head of Chancery, Sierra Leone Embassy, Ankara (R)

Outcomes of the Conference.

The Conference calls on parliaments to support the two UN Global Compacts – the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration GCM and the Global Compact on Refugees GCR. The two compacts should help structure international co-operation in the years to come and provide refugees and migrants with the essential human rights protection they are entitled to.

It highlights the preconditions for the successful implementation of the GCM and the GCR: the need to address the root causes of displacement, build stronger institutions and promote good governance in countries of origin of forced displacement, and also to promote international solidarity on migration and asylum-related matters – including solidarity towards frontline countries.

The Conference proposes specific action to be taken by national parliaments according to various parliamentary functions: representative, legislative and oversight, as well as the important element of international parliamentary diplomacy.

It underscores the importance of international co-operation to support the implementation of key United Nations treaties and non-binding multilateral agreements aimed at fostering greater protection of human rights and dignity of individuals worldwide.

It reiterates the call to protect and promote the rights of people on the move, in line with the international standards of humanitarian protection, of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

In particular, the Conference calls upon national parliaments to:

Take steps toward the adoption and implementation of the GCM and of the GCR.

Understand and address the root causes of forced displacement by looking at conflict resolution, peace building and reconciliation and by tackling issues relating to inequality, security and climate change, which can lead to forced displacement.

Promote democracy, human rights and rule of law by offering expertise in building stronger institutions and promoting good governance in countries of origin of forced displacement; and improve their countries’ contributions to the implementation of development co-operation programmes in the countries of origin of migrants and refugees;

Promote a spirit of international solidarity on migration and asylum-related matters. More needs to be done, in particular, to alleviate the pressure on frontline countries, including by supporting emergency accommodation for asylum seekers, assisting in voluntary resettlement, returns and reintegration, as well as preventing migrant smuggling.

Be more vocal to promote international solidarity toward refugees and migrants, highlighting the universal values of humanity and dignity for all. The tremendous suffering of refugees and migrants should be acknowledged and actions to alleviate human suffering should be supported;

Bear in mind the numerous additional problems and pressure on refugees and migrants in times of health pandemics and take specific measures to alleviate that pressure. In this regard, they should follow up on the recommendations agreed upon by the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution 2340 (2020) – Humanitarian consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic for migrants and refugees.

Strive to make a difference by relaying to their constituencies the meaning of the two UN global compacts. They should raise awareness about the compacts, moulding public opinion, as well as relaying their constituents’ views on the matters raised by the compacts. They should deal with the issues and concerns raised by those who spoke against the two pacts in a constructive manner;

Do more to combat hate speech against migrants and refugees in political discourse. Hate speech undermines human dignity and is dangerous for the cohesion of society, especially when it comes from political leaders;

Provide genuine leadership on human rights-related matters in the face of changing public opinion on migration and asylum. Parliamentarians’ link with citizens is of essence to ensure that no one is left behind, and no voice is under-represented. Building a common understanding; working towards a conducive, open, inclusive societal environment; addressing stereotypes and discrimination – is of utmost importance;

Take into account the progress made in recent years to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law at world level in their law-making actions, starting with the UN Sustainable Development Goals contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by which countries from around the world committed to “leaving no one behind”, especially the most vulnerable;

Act to build State systems that prevent and can respond to human displacement tragedies, protecting those in transit and arrival.

Make sure that the development of legal frameworks is inclusive and sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable, especially those of refugee and migrant children.

Create the necessary legal frameworks to allow for the implementation of best practices for refugee and migrant integration through education, employment, and social cohesion initiatives.

Put in place parliamentary action plans to accompany the implementation of State pledges made at the Global Refugee Forum. This would allow parliamentarians to plan and map actions required and identify capacity needs for respective legislative reforms;

Take part in, and oversee, the implementation of both compacts, based on a multi-stakeholder partnership approach as a key tool for burden and responsibility-sharing, helping to join efforts to implement both compacts;

Ask their governments to include the needs of refugees and forcibly displaced persons in multi-annual national and regional development planning and ensure regular monitoring of the implementation of the relevant laws and of budget allocations;

Use international parliamentary diplomacy to promote their country’s adherence to the two compacts and participation in their respective follow-up mechanisms. National parliaments should reinforce co-operation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration as key organisations co-ordinating the implementation of the two compacts and participate in the UN Network on Migration through their national delegations;

Reinforce development co-operation to support countries of origin and transit of refugees and migrants to build up State systems that respond to refugees’ and migrants’ needs and protect those fleeing;

Identify avenues for co-operation with the European Parliament, the European Commission, and other European Union bodies for the implementation of the new European Union Pact on Migration and Asylum, building synergies, when possible, with the relevant processes for the implementation of both UN compacts;





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