On September 19th, world leaders will meet in New York to discuss large movements of refugees and migrants, with the aim of developing a better, more human and coordinated international response. In the first of two op-eds for Refugees Deeply, Professor Alexander Betts plots the flawed origins and evolution of this meeting. He writes, “it represents one of the most high-profile political meetings ever to consider refugees and migration. But the summit’s key documents have been produced quickly and with clear limitations. They focus mainly on the agreement of abstract principles. Some states are privately celebrating having managed to strip them of almost all substantive content.”
He calls the summit “the child of political compromise”, originating from “the European refugee crisis and its links to the conflict in Syria” but not convened “to concretely address that situation”. The declaration emerging from the summit will, he says, “be thin on content and connections to practice”, and he asks “How morally tenable is it to invest the international community’s finite political capital into a summit about abstract principles when there are tangible protection crises from Greece to Kenya to Jordan to Australia?”
While the hope may be that a framework for change will emerge from the summit, he states that “such an approach simply defers the need for institutional transformation.” With government violations of existing agreements occurring daily, he argues that “The summit’s focus risks wilfully misunderstanding that the greatest challenge for protection and solutions is not about states’ lack of new or additional commitment. The norms exist, it is operational outcomes that are most urgently needed today.”
Read the full article here >>
Part two will be published tomorrow.