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How to Share Responsibility for Refugee Protection

The world already has the tools to protect refugees, it just needs to deploy them effectively and make better use of our collective resources, argues the U.N. refugee agency’s assistant high commissioner for protection.

Written by Volker Türk Published on Read time Approx. 1 minutes
UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Turk in Thailand in May 2015. AP/Charles Dharapak

The current state of forced displacement today, with record numbers and rising levels of need, poses challenges of a scope and complexity that we have not had to face since World War II.

Yet if we make every effort to place refugee protection at the heart of our response, these challenges are not insurmountable. The international refugee regime provides us with tried and tested tools to address them. What is needed now is to put our collective resources and capacities to their most effective use.

We are already seeing this in the recent move towards creating a proposed Global Compact on Responsibility Sharing for Refugees, as set out in the U.N. secretary-general’s report, In Safety and Dignity: Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.

We are also seeing this with innovative directions in protection, assistance and solutions for refugees that are helping us to operationalize longstanding principles of protection, transforming them into tangible results for refugees. New forms of group determination, combined with community-based protection and other measures, can help to ensure an appropriate legal status while at the same time identifying specific protection needs.

Protection strategies can inform frameworks for governing migration and meeting the needs of the most vulnerable migrants. The integration of services to refugees within national systems and the expansion of cash-based programming can meet essential needs for assistance more effectively.

Finally, the humanitarian-development nexus, the progressive realization of rights, including the right to work, and the creation of complementary pathways for admission, can provide the building blocks for achieving longer-term solutions, which remain, as ever, the ultimate aspiration of the international refugee protection regime.

Read the full-length paper “Prospects for Responsibility Sharing in the Refugee Context” by Volker Türk at the Journal on Migration and Human Security. This article was originally published by the journal and is reprinted here with permission.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Refugees Deeply.

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