UN Global Compact on Refugees and Global Compact for Migration: Our priorities

The following are priority concerns for the Canadian Council for Refugees with respect to the UN Global Compact on Refugees and the UN Global Compact for Migration

  1. Focus on human rights (with gender-based lens).
  2. Highlight refugees/migrants as human beings. (Note that the individual human tends to be lost in the consideration of the mass of people moving, which is the focus of both Compacts).
  3. Focus on vulnerable persons (gender-based, minors (especially unaccompanied), LGBTI, people with disabilities, etc.).
  4. Recognize the diverse and interrelated causes of forced migration. People are forced to move for some reasons that are covered by international law (e.g. fleeing persecution), some reasons that are raised in discussion (e.g. displacement based on environmental factors) and some that are not often addressed (unequal trade relationships, resource extraction industries).
  5. Recognize the circular causal relationship between mistreatment and vulnerability. People whose rights are not respected at home are forced to move and are then vulnerable as refugees/migrants. The more migrants’ and refugees’ rights are not respected, the greater the vulnerability to further abuse, exploitation and trafficking.
  6. Acknowledge and combat xenophobia and racism (including in analysis of causes of forced migration and treatment of migrants – ongoing legacy of colonialism and slavery; in discussions avoid negative or disempowering language to refer to refugees/migrants as this feeds into xenophobia and racism).
  7. In promoting whole-of-society approach, don’t lose sight of State responsibility.
  8. Respect the principle of additionality in providing pathways to safety for migrants and refugees (involving new actors, identifying new pathways, developing new mechanism should add to the numbers of refugees and migrants that find protection and permanent solutions, not replace existing solutions).
  9. Underline the importance of permanent status.
  10. We need increased accountability within the international community and a monitoring and reporting mechanism.
  11. Canada and the international community need to do more to address the problems faced by refugees and migrants. The Compacts offer an important opportunity to challenge ourselves to do more. Canada should do more itself and challenge other countries also to do more.
  12. Affirm and strengthen the already existing international refugee protection regime; uphold fundamental principles such as non-refoulement, right to seek asylum and enjoy meaningful legal status and access to socio-economic integration.
  13. Involve civil society and refugees and migrants themselves meaningfully in the discussions leading to the Compacts.