New York Declaration

On 19 September 2016, the landmark New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants was adopted by acclamation at the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants (the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants). The New York Declaration includes a set of commitments for refugees and migrants, and elements towards the achievement of a Global Compact on Refugees and a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

The New York Declaration includes a number of principled commitments, including to fully protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants as rights-holders, regardless of their status and to devise responses to large-movements with full respect for international human rights law and other relevant standards. Critically, the Declaration commits States inter alia, to address the special needs of people in vulnerable situations; ensure border management procedures in full conformity with international human rights and refugee law; save lives; give primary consideration at all times to the best interests of the child; consider reviewing policies that criminalize cross-border movements; pursue alternatives to detention; combat xenophobia and discrimination against refugees and migrants; and improve data collection.

The New York Declaration further takes note of the work done by the Global Migration Group (led by OHCHR as co-chair of the GMG Working Group on Human Rights) to develop principles and practical guidance on the protection of the human rights of migrants in vulnerable situations. It also requests OHCHR, among other stakeholders, to contribute to the process of developing the Global Compact on Migration, which will set out principles, commitments and understanding among Member States regarding international migration in all its dimensions.

The New York Declaration contains bold commitments both to address the issues we face now and to prepare the world for future challenges. These include commitments to:

  • Protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of status. This includes the rights of women and girls and promoting their full, equal and meaningful participation in finding solutions.
  • Ensure that all refugee and migrant children are receiving education within a few months of arrival.
  • Prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.
  • Support those countries rescuing, receiving and hosting large numbers of refugees and migrants.
  • Work towards ending the practice of detaining children for the purposes of determining their migration status.
  • Strongly condemn xenophobia against refugees and migrants and support a global campaign to counter it.
  • Strengthen the positive contributions made by migrants to economic and social development in their host countries.
  • Improve the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance to those countries most affected, including through innovative multilateral financial solutions, with the goal of closing all funding gaps.
  • Implement a comprehensive refugee response, based on a new framework that sets out the responsibility of Member States, civil society partners and the UN system, whenever there is a large movement of refugees or a protracted refugee situation.
  • Find new homes for all refugees identified by UNHCR as needing resettlement; and expand the opportunities for refugees to relocate to other countries through, for example, labour mobility or education schemes.
  • Strengthen the global governance of migration by bringing the International Organization for Migration into the UN system.

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