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Refugees, Iraq / © ACN

Refugees, Iraq / © ACN

UN: Dignity Is at the Heart of the Response to Refugees

In View of a Global Pact on Refugees

“The values expressed in the Charter of the United Nations, particularly those related to respect for fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person, must be at the heart of our response to the plight of refugees and migrants,” thus Monsignor Jurkovic began his statement before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at Geneva on July 10, 2017.

The Holy See’s Permanent Observer at the United Nattions and other International Organizations intervened in the thematic discussion of a Global Pact on Refugees, on the theme: “Past and Current Burden- and Responsibility-Sharing Arrangements.”

He pleaded for “a dedicated financing facility to support capacity development for the implementation of migration-related international commitments” and “’agreements’ built on long-standing values and principles already articulated by States and thus enshrined in international instruments related to mass movements of refugees.”

It is also necessary, said Monsignor Jurkovic, “to improve cooperation on reducing irregular movements and dismantiling criminal networks,” while facilitating “the integration of refugees.” A “durable, effective and global solution does not seem possible, he insisted, without the engagement of all the parties concerned.”

Here is Monsignor Jurkovic’s Statement.

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Statement by His Excellency Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva

at Thematic discussion 1 of the Global Compact on Refugees

Past and current burden- and responsibility-sharing arrangements

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Geneva, 10 July 2017

My Delegation wishes to welcome the two co-chairs and would like to thank the panelists for their thoughtful presentations.

The values expressed in the Charter of the United Nations, particularly those related to respect for fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person, must be at the heart of our response to the plight of refugees and migrants. These same fundamental principles are affirmed by most major religious traditions in the world and by people of good will. The Golden Rule enjoins us to treat refugees and migrants the way we would want others to treat us if we were in their situation. Through the 2030 Agenda and the New York Declaration, UN Member States have committed to a set of shared priorities. In the area of trade policy, such actions are facilitated through a specific “funding envelope”, called Aid for Trade. In the area of climate change, an elaborate system of financing vehicles exists to support adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. Similarly, we need a dedicated financing facility to support capacity development for the implementation of migration-related international commitments.

By including a number of migration-related targets in the 2030 Agenda and adopting the New York Declaration, States have begun to acknowledge that the management of international migration is a shared responsibility, and will require joint commitment to translate words into deliverables. The name “Global Compact” was chosen to ensure global action in response to a global phenomenon: presently, an unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home, and among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees1.

When confronting this phenomenon, we are aware that solidarity with a significant portion of suffering humanity does not happen without sacrifice. In some instances, refugees outnumber the local population, presenting obvious difficulties. To manage this issue, it is necessary, therefore, that all governments and members of civil society share respective responsibilities and burdens, in a true spirit of solidarity. We need global action anchored in solidarity.

The Global Compact on Refugees should aim at delivering “agreements” built on the long-standing values and principles, already articulated by States and thus enshrined in international instruments related to mass movements of refugees. To this end, as Pope Francis has appealed, our shared response should “be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate”2.

A constant priority for States will and should be to improve cooperation on reducing irregular movements and dismantling criminal networks that have made a business out of smuggling migrants or trafficking people, exploiting their desperation and their search for a better life. As public pressure to be tough on “illegal immigration” is mounting, States should, however, heed the lessons from response to other forms of illicit trade and avoid the criminalization of victims and reliance on border and law enforcement only. Bilateral, regional and inter-regional partnerships and cooperation platforms on migration can provide valuable venues for building trust and capacity-strengthening. This process also could play a pivotal role in ensuring that State practice and cooperation regarding irregular migration, human trafficking and migrant smuggling are guided by and adhere to international law, including human rights and refugee law, and do not undermine the right to seek asylum

Upon arrival at their respective destinations, refugees often find mistrust, suspicion, discrimination, racism and a lack of clear policies that hinder their acceptance. After being forcibly displaced from their homes, they too often face rejection, exclusion, and the absence of a welcome in the places where they seek welcome and protection.

A change of behavior is needed on the part of everyone, “moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture

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FOOTNOTES

1 UNHCR data, http://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

2 Pope Francis Message to the 6th International Forum on Migration and Peace, 21st February 2017. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2017/february/documents/papa-francesco_20170221_forum-migrazioni-pace.html

About Constance Roques

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