The New York refugee summits – what to expect Will next week’s summits be game-changing or more of the same?


It’s billed as a potential “game-changer” for refugee protection and the rights of migrants, but what can we really expect from the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants taking place in New York next Monday? And is US President Barack Obama’s Leaders’ Summit on Refugees likely to deliver substantial new commitments on refugee resettlement and funding?

One week before the two high-level and unprecedented gatherings aimed at stemming the global migration crisis, here’s what we know and don’t know:

The knowns

We already have the draft declaration – agreed upon by 193 member states in early August – that will be formally adopted at the UN Summit on Monday the 19th.

It sets out a long list of vague commitments to address the root causes of large movements of refugees and migrants: to respect their rights; combat xenophobia and exploitation; strengthen search-and-rescue efforts; address funding gaps etc. etc. And it does all this while recognising the often antithetical rights of individual states to manage and control their own borders and “to take measures to prevent irregular border crossings”.

Observers to the drafting negotiations note that the original text was watered down over successive meetings. “Mostly, it’s ‘we’ll consider doing this’,” Josephine Liebl, a humanitarian policy adviser with Oxfam who sat through many of the July negotiations in New York, told IRIN. “The original text was more decisive.”

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