On Monday (Sep 19), world leaders have gathered at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York to attend the first ever high-level summit on refugees and migrants. Hosted within the UN General Assembly Meeting, the summit was meant to provide a historic opportunity for countries to come together to adopt a coordinated approach addressing the large movements of refugees and migrants. The blueprint of the summit, the New York Declaration, aims to set grounds for more equitable and responsible international response towards the migration in the upcoming years.
By adopting the declaration, governments committed towards protecting human rights of the migrants and refugees and ensuring safe and regular migration with a more equitable burden-sharing system. In particular, leaders agreed to start negotiations on adoption of a set of common principles and guidelines by 2018, as a part of a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. In order to enhance cooperation, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), previously an inter-governmental body, became a UN official agency.
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The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recognized the importance of coming together on such pressing issue, stating that “[t]oday’s Summit represents a breakthrough in our collective efforts to address the challenges of human mobility.”
In effort to deal with the greatest human displacement since the Second World War, the world leaders have also committed to tackle the root causes behind mass movements. Namely, they have reaffirmed their support for the goals under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including combatting environmental degradation and ensuring effective responses to the adverse impacts of climate change.
In his final UN address at this week’s summit, the United States President Barack Obama has called for a “sense of urgency”, stating that climate change would further worsen the conditions leading to the current refugee crisis unless prompt action is taken. He reminded that the Paris Agreement provides framework for assisting the less-developed countries in the battle against climate change, making its entry into force of vital importance.
“If we don’t act boldly, the bill that could come due will be mass migrations, and cities submerged and nations displaced, and food supplies decimated, and conflicts born of despair,” Obama warned.
The Paris Agreement is closer to coming into effect as the two largest GHG emitters, the United States and China, ratified the deal earlier this month while 31 more countries have done so today (Sep 21).
[Image: Displaced Sudanese Face Harsh Environment. Photo credit: United Nations Photo/Flickr]