Refugee Summit Offers Chance to Reaffirm IHL & Highlight Needs of Vulnerable Migrants

Next week, New York City will play host to two high-level events on migrants and refugees aimed at bringing world leaders, civil society members, and organizations, like the ICRC, together to address what has become one of the biggest humanitarian challenges in a generation.

On September 19, the UN’s 71st General Assembly will host The Summit for Refugees and Migrants, which hopes to come up with a more humane and coordinated approach to dealing with the challenges linked to displacement.

On September 20, U.S. President Obama will host a Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis, with the stated goal of galvanizing significant new global commitments to increase funding to humanitarian appeals and international organizations, admit more refugees through resettlement or other legal pathways, and increase refugees’ self-reliance and inclusion through opportunities for education and legal work.

The President of the ICRC, Peter Maurer, is expected to attend both summits. 

According to the UN, at least 65 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide — hedging their bets that an unknown life elsewhere will be safer than the certainty of conflict, violence, or persecution they have left behind.

Mr. Maurer is expected to urge States to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and refrain from adapting policies that violate these norms and cause further humanitarian consequences.  

He will also put focus on the suffering, dignity, safety and rights of vulnerable refugees, internally displaced people, and asylum-seekers.

Back in May, Mr. Maurer sat down with Intercross to talk about the factors forcing people to flee in the first place and why world leaders should start seeing migration as an opportunity.

“Migration is overall positive for society," he told Intercross. "I would like to go back to this very simple truth and remind the leaders of the world that in order to sustain their economic growth, their vitality, and their innovation in society they need migration. They need young people to migrate from the global south into the industrial centers of the more developed world.”