Every year, millions of people are forced to flee their countries because of war, conflict, natural events, persecution, or extreme poverty. In 2018 the number of refugees and displaced persons globally reached a record 70 million, the vast majority of whom are children. The data reveals that we are facing an unprecedented migration crisis, an alarming fact that proves that we are doing something wrong.
The reality is that the migration situation can only be addressed through multilateral cooperation, since migration is, of course, a phenomenon that crosses borders.
In 2018, during my time as President of the United Nations General Assembly, the agency adopted the Global Compact for Refugees, marking the beginning of an effort by the international community to address the migration crisis in a comprehensive and holistic manner, building effective support systems for refugees and host communities.
The pact was a significant step forward for the multilateral agenda, and the document manifests itself as an instrument of cooperation and a guide for all states, proposing four fundamental objectives:
- Alleviate the pressure on host countries, which are in most cases countries with less capacity to deal with the situation.
- Improve the self-sufficiency of refugees through measures that allow refugees to access education, health, decent work, and freedom of movement.
- Expand access to solutions in third countries
- Strengthen conditions in the countries of origin for a safe and dignified return
The objectives of the Global Compact are interrelated and interdependent. Furthermore, the compact takes into account both refugees and their basic human rights as well as host countries, offering solutions and alternatives to strengthen political will and address the migration crisis through multilateral cooperation and the support of relevant organizations, in the hope of more regulated and safe migration for refugees and a strengthening of the shared responsibility of all countries.
The issue of migration has become a common concern for many countries around the world that today seek to promote a community of shared values and shared responsibilities. However, we must respect that each state has its own policies on the issue of migration. In addition to strengthening the assistance and protection of refugees, we need tools that allow states to design strategies that are adapted to their respective government policies. I believe multilateralism is the key to improve the lives of millions of refugees around the world and to position action and solidarity as the core of each country’s migration policies.
Maria Fernanda Espinosa