UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants

On Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, the UN convened its high level Summit on Refugees and Migrants in New York. The summit is the UN’s attempt to address the “global crisis” for refugees and migrants. It was spurred by the massive movement of refugees and migrants — and loss of life — as millions of migrants and refugees from Africa, from the war in Syria and elsewhere, sought safety and survival in Europe and beyond.

In reality, this large movement of people, often forcibly displaced, has been taking place for many years in regions around the world.

There were high expectations for the Summit. Governments approved a “New York Declaration” in advance of the Summit and have committed to develop two global compacts — one on migration and one on refugees, over the next two years.

Additionally, President Barack Obama, together with several other countries, hosted a “humanitarian summit” on Sept. 20 in New York to call attention to governments’ responsibility for refugees.

Civil society groups representing migrants and refugees, doing advocacy at many levels, have sought to lift their voices in the planning process from the beginning of the year, and while largely supportive of the UN effort, are greatly concerned with the concrete commitments and sense of urgency.

NNIRR, as part of the Global Coalition on Migration, has reflected the concerns the issues of members and allies in the US, in particular, concerning immigrant criminalization, deterrent border policies, heightened racism and xenophobia, and numerous other issues that can compromise the UN’s proposal to see “safe, regular and orderly migration.”

Catherine Tactaquin, NNIRR Executive Director, spoke to several of these concerns on a UN interactive panel in July in New York, “Achieving a Global Compact for safe, regular and orderly migration”. The comments can be viewed here.

UN website on the Summit on Refugees and Migrants


Global Coalition on Migration (GCM): GCM Reflections on the September 19 Outcome Documents: Most of the work is yet to be done, and States need to act now.

GCM blog post in Open Society Foundation Voices Blog: Will a Global Compact on Migration Lead to Lasting Change?

Global Unions Reaction to the UN documents for the Summit

UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants website

UN Summit document: New York Declaration and annexes on migration and on refugees

Link to UN infographics on global migration.

UPROOTED: The Growing Crisis for Refugee and Migrant Children (Executive Summary) by UNICEF (Sept. 2016) Full reports and executive summaries in Spanish, Arabic and French can be found here.

Act Now: a civil society statement and scorecard on the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants