UN Common Pledge
UN Common Pledge
- Burkina Faso
- Costa Rica
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- North Macedonia
At the Global Refugee Forum 2019, pledges were made by the UN Secretary-General and the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, which committed United Nations entities to systematically include refugees into their analyses and plans, and to work with refugee-hosting governments and communities to facilitate the inclusion of refugees into national systems.
These pledges, commonly referred to as the UN Common Pledge, saw 15 UN entities step up their support for refugee inclusion, as documented in a stocktaking report of the pledge in 2021.
In the lead-up to the 2023 Global Refugee Forum, over 20 UN entities have come together to co-create a successor pledge, the UN common pledge 2.0. This will see the UN family renew and strengthen its commitment to promoting refugees inclusion in national plans, budgets, datasets and service delivery systems, recognizing that inclusion of refugees will be key ensuring that no one is left behind as we accelerate efforts under the Sustainable Development Goals.
Refugees, donors and other key stakeholders will be engaged in the co-creation process for the UN common pledge 2.0, and a new, country level component will facilitate the participation of UN country teams in the pledge under the leadership of Resident Coordinators, thereby ensuring that the commitments under the pledge lead directly to measurable changes in the lives of refugees.
To learn more about how you can get involved, please contact Christopher Gerlach, OCHA, [email protected]; Signe Jepsen, DCO, [email protected]; Katy Barnett, UNHCR, [email protected]
Additional questions, suggestions and feedback are welcome and can be sent to:
- Ms. Katy Barnett, Snr. Partnership Advisor, UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) Geneva, [email protected]
- Mr. Christopher Gerlach, Humanitarian Affairs Officer, OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) New York, [email protected]
- Ms. Signe Jepsen, Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus Advisor, DCO (UN Development Coordination Office) New York, [email protected]
1.1. What is the UN Common Pledge 2.0?
The UN common pledge 2.0 is a renewal of the 2019 UN common pledge, and will be announced at the 2023 GRF. consists of 1 overarching commitment, made by the UN family, to proggress refugees’ inclusion. Under this one pledge different UN entities and UNC Tees will list measurable commitments that support the overarching goal of the pledge.
1.2. What are we trying to achieve together?
The Common Pledge 2.0 is an opportunity for the UN entities who participated actively in the 2019 UN Common Pledge (for example in the 2021 stocktaking on the pledge), and others who would like to newly commit to facilitating refugees’ inclusion in UN response plans and in national systems. Through the pledge UN Country Teams (UNCTs) and UN entities at the global level can showcase and generate support for concrete actions that they will take to advance refugees’ inclusion.
The Common Pledge 2.0 speaks to a particular opportunity opened by the suite of inclusive policy pledges that many refugee hosting countries made at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum. Some of these pledges remain in progress pending greater technical, programmatic, and financial support from the international community. Concerted UN support will help to accelerate realisation of these pledges from 2019.
The primary objective of the UN Common Pledge 2.0 is to achieve measurably improved access to strengthened national service for refugees, thereby contributing to the achievement of sustainable and dignified living standards for refugees and the communities that host them. Inclusion therefore plays a central role, which is complementary to the often humanitarian-focused support provided to refugees.
The pledge also aims to secure a strengthened, and more predictable whole-of-UN collective and coherent approach in refugee situations, to ensure that refugees are not left behind. Through a Resident Coordinator led, coherent and coordinated effort, the whole UN Country Team (UNCT) can help to ensure that refugees are not left behind in the effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Finally, the Common Pledge has the potential to generate learning from a wide stakeholder group including UNCTs, donors, refugees, and refugee-hosting countries, on what works to progress refugee inclusion. This can be harvested and shared through monitoring, stocktaking and other mechanisms during the four-year lifetime of the pledge.
1.3. How does the UN Common Pledge 2.0 build on the 2019 UN Common Pledge? What are the differences?
One of the key strengths of the UN common pledge 2.0 is that it builds on the gains already made under the 2019 UN Common Pledge. It also benefits from the learning from that experience.
With the addition of a country-level component, the pledge will leverage the suite of capacities and expertise of UN Country teams (UNCTs). The 2023 pledge will also benefit from the use of measurable targets for each of the commitments made by UN entities and UNCTs under the pledge.
Finally, the co-creation process for the 2023 pledge brings in important additional stakeholder groups, including refugees and donors. Unlike the 2019 pledge, the intention for the 2023 pledge is that most of the resources required to realise the commitments under the pledge are either in place or committed by the time the pledge is announced in December 2023.
1.4. In the context of the UN Common Pledge 2.0, what does 'inclusion' mean?
Inclusion of refugees in this context refers to:
- The inclusion of concrete activities supporting refugees in UN (individual and inter-agency response) plans, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks (UNSDCFs), Refugee Response Plans (RRPs), Humanitarian Needs Overviews (HNOs) and Humanitarian Response Plans (HRP)1; and
- Inclusion of refugees in the national datasets, budgets, development plans and service delivery systems of the host country, often summarised as ‘inclusion of refugees in national systems.’
The second type of inclusion is achieved when, for example, refugees are included in the national census, refugee children attend local schools, refugees can access social protection on a par with nationals, etcetera.
2.1. What kind of commitments should global-level UN entities develop under the UN Common Pledge 2.0?
Guidance on the kinds of commitments that UN entities can formulate under the pledge is available through the dedicated guidance document.
As for UNCTs, the process for UN entities at the global level to develop commitments will include evolving drafts and feedback from other stakeholders involved in co-creating the whole pledge, such as other UN entities, UNCTs, and an expert group of refugees supporting the process. A template for submission of commitments will be shared in February 2023, and first drafts of commitments will be requested from participating UN entities following that. The deadline for submission of final versions will likely be the end of June 2023.
2.2. Do commitments under the UN common pledge 2.0 have to be specifically focused on refugees, or can other groups be targeted?
The primary focus of the UN common pledge 2.0 is refugees. However, commitments under the pledge can be inclusive, aimed at achieving positive impacts for refugees, returnees, mixed movements including refugees, IDPs, and/or host communities. Commitments relating to the prevention of statelessness, and access to legal identity and civil registration can also be considered.
Noting that IDPs are the specific focus of the UN Secretary-General’s Acton Agenda, the UN common pledge 2.0 seeks to be complementary to this and avoid confusion or duplication. For this reason, commitments specifically on IDPs (rather than on mixed populations or host communities which may include and benefit IDPs, for example) will likely not be included in the UN common pledge 2.0.
In a similar vein, commitments that focus uniquely on migrants should be incorporated into pledges supporting the implementation of the Global Compact on Migration rather than under the UN common pledge 2.0. Commitments under the UN common pledge 2.0 relating to mixed movements where both migrants and refugees are concerned should be approved by both UNHCR and IOM. Twin pledges are encouraged for thematic areas equally affecting refugees and migrants; meaning that commitments under the UN common pledge 2.0 which relate to mixed movements may also be reflected in pledges submitted at the next International Migration Review Forum.
2.3. Can global-level commitments under the UN Common Pledge 2.0 include specific country level actions and commitments?
Yes. These commitments targeting a specific country should be agreed with the UNCT and incorporated into its plans. Therefore, in conversation with the UNCT in a refugee-hosting country, a UN entity may wish to make specific commitments at the global level that will support refugee inclusion efforts in that country – or in multiple countries. UNHCR is able to provide country-level guidance on what kind of specific commitments are most needed to support inclusion.
In some cases, commitments made by UN entities at the global level may be aimed at supporting or improving that agency’s efforts, or the UNCT’s efforts in every country where that entity is active. For example, a UN Agency may commit to systematically training all its country-level Representatives on refugee inclusion, strengthening the allocation of core resources to their programmes in refugee-hosting countries, or improving the disaggregation of the data they collect to make refugees more visible. These kinds of commitments have potential benefits for all refugee hosting countries where the entity is active.
2.4. Can commitments under the UN Common Pledge 2.0 include efforts and initiatives that were already planned, or are already ongoing?
The recommended approach is that commitments made under the UN Common Pledge 2.0 are, wherever possible, streamlined into the different agency or interagency plans, in order to increase coherence and reduce transaction costs. The recommendation is to look at innovative and additional activities, whilst they might include some efforts that have already been started.
This means that planned efforts that are aligned with the pledge can be included in it, and this is particularly encouraged if participation in the pledge can facilitate the successful completion of these planned efforts (e.g., if this brings positive additional focus and support, particularly if the work was previously stalled because of lack of support).
At the same time, the UN Common Pledge 2.0 is a prompt to increase the level of ambition and build on gains already made. So, a key question for those generating commitments under the pledge is: if your UN entity or UNCT has already had some successes around refugee inclusion, how might these be extended, replicated or scaled in the 4-year period of the UN common pledge 2.0.
2.5. What kind of commitments should UNCTs be developing under the UN Common Pledge 2.0?
Guidance on the kinds of commitments that UNCTs can formulate under the pledge is available in the dedicated guidance document. Each UNCT can make one or multiple commitments as part of the overall pledge.
The type of commitments will vary considerably based on contextual factors, not least of which will be the policies, priorities and openness of the host government. UNCTs are particularly encouraged to review any pledges made by the host government at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum or other government plans to advance refugee inclusion, to identify areas of intended progress on refugee inclusion where UN support can accelerate progress.
The process to develop commitments should be consultative – led by the Resident Coordinator and reflecting a cohesive UNCT approach. The process will likely also be iterative. This means evolving from the development of initial ideas to more refined thinking, to a final statement of the commitments on the basis of feedback from other stakeholders involved in co-creating the whole pledge, such as other UNCTs, global level UN entities, and an expert group of refugees supporting the process.
A template for of commitments will be developed and shared in February 2023 and first drafts of commitments will be requested from participating UNCTs following that. The deadline for submission of final versions will likely be the end of June 2023.
2.6. Can UN entities or UNCTs create / participate in additional and separate pledges apart from the UN Common Pledge 2.0?
Absolutely. Please see the section on Frequently Asked Questions in relation to the Global Refugee Forum in general.
2.7. How will the final pledge be announced, and what is the role of UNCTs, global-level UN entities and donors in making this announcement?
Planning for the 2023 Global Refugee Forum is ongoing, and those developing pledges are invited to suggest ways in which their pledge can be presented at that event. Given the strong country-level element of the UN Common Pledge 2.0, it may be interesting to propose an event or announcement that emphasises this contribution – e.g. through a video outlining the expected results at the country-level, an announcement by a Resident Coordination or a refugee, or other. All suggestions on this topic are welcome, ensuring that these announcements can trigger further action and rally external support.
2.8. What is the difference between the objectives set out in Refugee Response Plans (RRPs) and commitments under the UN Common Pledge 2.0? Are they essentially the same thing?
RRPs have either a regional focus or are country specific.2 RRPs are normally (but not always) one-year plans and they record the planned response of multiple stakeholders, including local and international NGOs. They therefore extend beyond the scope of the UN. Some inclusion related activities, but by no means all elements of RRPs, may therefore be relevant to reflect as commitments in the UN Common Pledge 2.0.
Such inclusion-related activities may include, for example, any joint effort of a UNCT in a refugee-hosting country, that is specifically aimed at promoting and enabling refugees’ inclusion in national systems (rather than parallel service delivery), and which has a relevance or a lifespan consistent with the period covered by the pledge (2024-2027 inclusive). In fact, because the UN Common Pledge 2.0 has a four-year timespan, the sequencing may be as follows: the UNCT agrees on commitments to progress refugee inclusion under the UN Common Pledge 2.0, and these commitments are then reflected in relevant interagency planning documents, including in some instances RRPs.3
3.1. Should governments be involved in the development of commitments by UNCTs under the UN Common Pledge 2.0?
Governments will not make commitments under the UN common pledge 2.0, since the pledge is made up of commitments from the UN family only. Governments may make their own, separate pledges on refugee inclusion. However UNCTs making commitments under the UN common pledge 2.0 will need to consult with government as an essential part of their drafting process. Where relevant, UNCTs are encouraged to make commitments that support host governments to deliver on 2019 pledges on inclusion that remain in progress; and that align with / support government plans on inclusion going forwards.
The Common Pledge 2.0 and the commitments under it will be made publicly available in the lead-in to the 2023 Global Refugee Forum, and the commitments made by UNCTs under the pledge should be discussed during the drafting process with the host government. This is to ensure that commitments are aligned with and supported by national and sub-national government strategies.
Commitments that support refugee inclusion should be integrated into existing or subsequently developed UN inter-agency response plans (such as UNSDCFs), which are an agreement between the UN and the host government.
3.2. How are refugee-hosting countries engaged in the UN Common Pledge 2.0?
The main mechanism for refugee-hosting countries to engage in the pledge is through direct collaboration with the 25+ UNCTs in refugee-hosting countries who are developing commitments under the pledge.
The UNCTs will plan and coordinate their work in consultation with governments, and where relevant and feasible in support of government plans.
Additionally, the six co-convenors (Colombia, France, Japan, Jordan, Niger and Uganda) and the co-host of the 2023 Global Refugee Forum will be consulted on the pledge and its cocreation process in the course of 2023.
3.3. Are all UNCTs required to participate in the UN Common Pledge 2.0?
Participation in the Common Pledge 2.0 is only relevant for UNCTs in refugee-hosting countries where the RCs/UNCTs have identified opportunities to progress refugees’ inclusion in national systems.
All UNCTs have been invited to consider participation in the UN Common Pledge 2.0 under the leadership of the Resident Coordinator, and at the time of writing 27 of the 130 UNCTs around the world have opted in.
The Common Pledge 2.0. is primarily a statement of the UN family’s commitments on refugee inclusion, so there is no expectation that civil society organisations will make commitments under the pledge.
However, commitments made by UN entities and UNCTs under the pledge can be co-developed with NGOs and civil society partners. In particular, consultation with refugees and host community members is necessary and supported as an integral part of the development of commitments under the pledge by UNCTs and UN entities, for the following reasons:
- It is ethical and appropriate for refugees to participate in decisions and processes which will affect them, as is expressed in paragraph 34 of the UN’s 2018 Global Compact on Refugees, which states that “responses are most effective when they actively and meaningfully engage those they are intended to protect and assist”. It is also in line with the UN’s collective accountability to affected people (AAP).
- Meaningful engagement with refugees and host communities will strengthen the quality of the pledge (including ensuring it is relevant and focused on the real issues) – as well as its credibility.
- If refugees and host community members are meaningfully engaged in the process of co-creating commitments under the pledge, this will likely lead to more equitable, effective, responsive, and legitimate outcomes. The engagement of these groups throughout the implementation and monitoring phases of the pledge, including in any stocktaking exercises, will also be important.
3.4. Is there a regional level dimension to the UN common pledge 2.0?
Where a UNCT finds it advantageous they are strongly encouraged to consult with regional UN mechanisms and other UNCTs in the region on their draft commitments. Global level UN entities’ commitments to supporting inclusion should ensure support out at the regional level where this is needed.
3.5. How are International Financing Institutions (IFIs) engaged in shaping the UN Common Pledge 2.0?
On behalf of the three co-leads for the pledge (UNHCR, UNOCHA, UNDCO), UNHCR has initiated discussions with the World Bank (WB) on the overall objectives of the pledge and the co-creation process.
Going forward, given that financing for refugee-hosting countries is a key factor in securing refugees’ inclusion in national systems, the co-leads will seek to coordinate and strategize with the WB and other International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to maximise the impact of the complementary role these stakeholders have in securing the objectives of the pledge.
It is not expected that the WB or other IFIs will make commitments under the Common Pledge 2.0, given the different magnitude and modalities of these actors’ support to refugee situations, as well as the focus of the pledge on the UN system. They can however make their own, complementary organizational pledges, which is encouraged.
4.2. How will commitments under the UN Common Pledge 2.0 be funded?
There are no plans to establish a parallel funding mechanism specifically for the UN Common Pledge 2.0. Commitments of UNCTs and UN entities under the pledge can be funded in at least four ways using existing modalities:
- Donors can fund UNCT efforts under the pledge through country or thematic Pooled Funds
- Donors can fund UNCT efforts under the pledge through the SDF Joint fund
- Donors can fund UN entities participating in the pledge bilaterally
- UN entities can allocate core resources to their efforts under the pledge.
This includes public and private donors. Of course, some commitments, such as joint UN advocacy for policy changes, or adjustments to institutional processes within a UN Agency, may not require additional resources.
4.3. Will donors make commitments in support of the UN Common Pledge 2.0?
Donors will not list commitments under the UN common pledge 2.0 - only UN entities and UNCTs will do this. However, donors are invited to commit to actions, including provision of funding, to support the pledge. Whilst the pledge is primarily a statement of the UN family’s commitments on refugee inclusion, both donors and refugee hosting countries (who contribute significant national resources in support of refugee responses) are essential to the realisation of these commitments, because of the resources they can provide as well as the other complementary actions they can take to support the UN to achieve its goals under the pledge (such as relevant legal and policy changes).
For donors these complementary actions include, for example, promoting and providing financing to refugee-hosting countries. The modality for donors to express and record their commitments under the pledge is to be determined.
4.1. Will the UN common pledge 2.0 be costed?
Where UNCTs or global level UN entities will need resources for their planned actions under their commitments, they should cost these, building this into their existing budget. Knowing what resources are required to achieve success is essential for realistic planning, and also facilitates resource mobilisation, where that is required.
5.1. How will commitments under the UN Common Pledge 2.0 be tracked and reported on?
Each UNCT / UN entity making commitments under the pledge will define success for their commitments, and track progress through existing systems to reduce transaction costs and increase efficiency. This is one of the reasons why UNCTs are encouraged to include commitments under the UN Common Pledge 2.0 into existing or forthcoming planning documents.
In a midterm stocktaking exercise (expected Q1 2025), the co-leads (UNHCR, OCHA, and DCO) will collect updates on progress as assessed by UNCTs/UN entities against their own defined measures of success. for the stocktaking the co-leads may draw on other sources such as SDG indicators and GCR indicators.
Agency specific pledges outside of the Common Pledge 2.0 can be submitted through the dedicated pledge submission form for the GCR, which are also vetted and tracked through a separate system.
How should we deal with 2019 pledges that are not yet delivered? Should we reiterate them/maintain them/other?
Pledges announced since 2019 GRF will continue to be implemented while new pledges are being developed for the next GRF in line with the 20 key recommendations from the 2021 High-Level Officials Meeting. Pledging entities are encouraged to continue to provide progress updates on the implementation of their pledges. Number of pledges made since 2019 have scope to be specified. For pledges not yet delivered, pledging entities are also encouraged to seek matches via the pledge matching portal.
For more information, you can refer to the concept note for the GRF 2023.
What is the deadline and format for submission of new pledges?
Pledges can be submitted through the online form at any time, but it is highly encouraged to make the submission in advance of the GRF to facilitate effective pre-matching. This will allow the pre-matched pledges to be highlighted and showcased not only at the GRF but prior to the Forum through the GRF ecosystem.
Pledges may be individually or jointly submitted. Where a joint pledge is envisaged, pledging entities are encouraged to engage in the GCR initiatives. They can also reach out to UNHCR ([email protected]) for guidance.
What are the priority themes (if any) for new pledges?
The 20 key recommendations from the 2021 High-Level Officials Meeting, which is aligned with the GCR principles and objectives, are to guide the development of new pledges. The next GRF will focus on developing high-quality pledges that are additional, quantifiable, and needs-driven, and more information is available in the concept note.
A key priority of the GRF 2023 will be to strengthen the leadership of the multi-stakeholder in advancing the GCR, including through the comprehensive refugee responses and national arrangements while further developing the pledges and contributions.
Pledging entities are invited to visit the pledge matching portal to identify policy pledges of refugee hosting countries in need of financial, technical, and material support. UNHCR remains available to facilitate discussions with governments and other stakeholders to secure matching in advance of the GRF.
How do you advise that we form alliances to create new pledges?
Stakeholders that are not already engaged in the GCR initiatives are invited to indicate, through this short online expression of interest, the key areas they would like to work towards developing and implementing pledges, and/or express their interest in joining existing GCR initiatives.
Where specific themes from the key recommendations are not currently addressed through existing GCR initiatives, “groups of friends’’ may be developed by UNHCR and/or partners, in support of pledge development. Stakeholders may propose the creation of such groups/initiatives to the GCR Coordination Team ([email protected]).
Pledges may also be made outside of these GCR initiatives and groups of friends.
Will new pledges be tracked in the same way that the 2019 pledges were (e.g. self-reporting?) and is there any guidance on this (e.g. frequency of reporting)?
Yes. Pledging entities are asked twice a year to report on the progress of their pledges. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the contact details of the focal point for each pledging entity are up to date in the system. Any changes should be notified through the progress update or by email to [email protected]. Outside these two campaigns, pledging entities can report progress at any point in time using the online pledge update form.
How can we register for planned side events/pre-events, and how can we propose such events?
While the GRF modalities and programme are under development, GCR Initiatives/Groups of Friends are the main vehicles for proposing events. Stakeholders can express their interest in joining the initiatives and may propose to create a new initiative/group if a particular thematic area is not covered.
What level is participation in the GRF and how do we register?
Participants of the GRF will comprise heads of state/government, ministers, and other highlevel participants. Participation is by invitation only, and the registration process will open in 2023. An organizational note detailing these aspects and more will be made available online at a later stage.
Reports and guidance
Assessing progress and accelerating delivery on the UN Common Pledges in advance of the next Global Refugee Forum
A GRF Update