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The RSC Director writes in The Irish Times today

Following yesterday’s UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants in New York, Alexander Betts writes today in The Irish Times on the failure of the summit to offer little more than a declaration of abstract principles. As he says, “The big achievement of Monday’s UN meeting is its ‘New York Declaration’… But, inevitably, the content of the declaration is abstract.” While it contains some important ideas, he argues that “the mechanisms for achieving the lofty goals in the declaration are vague at best.” The summit marks the start of a two-year process to negotiate two ‘Global Compacts’, one of which focuses on refugees, the other on migration, although these are again “at the level of abstract principle.”

As Betts highlights, what the summit does do is raise a number of questions, such as:

  • “[I]s there anything that should lead us to believe that a declaration will lead to increased commitments to such plans? If concrete commitments were forthcoming, why could these not have been present in the substance of the conference?”
  • “Grand declarations are one thing, but…was this strategy really the best use of finite political capital?”
  • “What will it do to confront systematic non-compliance with refugee law in Europe or Australia, or to shape a response to the millions of people who will be displaced by factors such as climate change that fall outside the existing refugee framework? “
  • “Why should we trust states to implement a vague declaration, when they are already not complying with existing commitments?”

He concludes by arguing for a “bigger vision for legal, organisational and operational reform”. As he says, “We should be asking, ‘What kind of global refugee regime do we need for 2025?’ but this has not featured on the agenda this week.”

Read the full article here >>

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