On this day, the UN General Assembly will host a high-level summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants, with the aim of bringing countries together behind a more humane and coordinated approach. It is a defining moment to strengthen governance of international migration and a unique opportunity for creating a more responsible, predictable system for responding to large movements of refugees and migrants.
On this occasion the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS) issued a statement on Peace and Migration arguing that the global refugee protection and wider humanitarian system is under severe financial stress – Business as usual will not be enough. The ten countries hosting the largest number of refugees were in developing regions – the six biggest economies in the world host less than 9% of the world’s refugees. The UN Secretary-General has rightly argued that this is not only a crisis of numbers but also a crisis of solidarity. Unless the international community shows greater solidarity, and collectively designs and implements appropriate responses, there is a risk that these will not be effective or respond to the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.
CSPPS statement on Peace and Migration also stresses that an improved humanitarian response will only do so much as member states recognise in this week’s Summit declaration, armed conflict is at the root of the current refugee crisis. CSPPS membership recommends immediate and longer-term action to address the root cause of today’s crisis as it was agreed in the Stockholm Declaration earlier this year – signed up to by members from over 40 countries and organizations – ‘if we are to reverse the trend of increasing numbers of protracted humanitarian crises caused by violent conflict, we, now more than ever, need to have a long-term view that focuses more on prevention, by addressing the root causes and the drivers of fragility and conflict’ as also embedded in the New Deal and SDGs.
As a peacebuilding community, CSPPS expresses deep concern with the nature of today’s response to the growing flow of migrants and refugees into developed countries. Under pressure from xenophobic populists stoking panic, governments are making poor domestic and foreign policy choices: short-term and securitized approaches, legitimized through an ever-narrowing definition of the national interest, are being prioritized in the panic to ‘do something’. Point emphasized by CSPPS in its Migration Statement asserting, “we know that because people are politically excluded, because they cannot freely redress injustices, and because they cannot enjoy their most basic rights, including to freely organize as civil society, repressive regimes tend to be more prone to conflict than other countries.”
The Statement also points that turning renewed global commitments on preventing conflict and sustaining peace into reality will demand leadership on the global stage. The international community need to match words with action and to enforce international norms as contributing to protracted conflicts globally. This will also require political courage at home, where the case for a patient, long-term, preventive approach must be made to electorates along with an appeal for societies to reject shrill calls to build walls and close themselves off from the world. As Peter Van Sluijs, Coordinator of the CSPPS secretariat argues, “as has been demonstrated on countless occasions, most people will be willing to take on their fair share of responsibility for global problems in the knowledge that other countries will do the same. And it is here that the UN comes in: as well as being established to uphold world peace, the organization serves as a forum for countries to overcome collective action problems.”