Multistakeholder Pledge: Developing Comprehensive Responses to the Protection Challenges Faced by Refugees and Migrants Moving by Sea
Loss of life and disappearance of refugees and migrants moving by sea is reduced through enhanced SAR capacities and coordination. Rapid disembarkation is granted in places providing safeguards for human rights where people in situations of vulnerability, and those in need of protection, including international protection are identified through appropriate screening mechanisms and swiftly referred to the relevant services and procedures.
This pledge aims at encouraging States and other stakeholders to take new concrete steps to ensure the protection of asylum-seekers, refugees, stateless people and migrants moving by sea, in particular in the context of mixed movements. This initiative is in line with the recommendations contained in other relevant initiatives such as the pledge on trafficking in persons and the pledge on alternatives to detention.
The pledge aligns with the 2021 High-Level Officials Key Recommendations and Follow-Up Actions, in particular with:
- Recommendation 1: Implement current GRF pledges and develop new ones on protection at sea
- Recommendation 2: Enhance access to international protection
- Recommendation 8: Strengthen private sector engagement in support of GCR objectives
- Recommendation 17: Build additional complementary pathways to third-country solutions
As protection at sea is a thematic area of commonality between the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) and the Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), when pledging for the GCR in this area, States and stakeholders may wish to consider submitting similar or other related pledges under the Global Compact for Migration.
To support comprehensive responses to the protection needs of asylum-seekers, refugees, stateless people and migrants moving by sea, with a view to reducing losses of life at sea and ensuring the development of protection-sensitive responses.
These include but are not limited to:
- Ratify and implement international law of the sea instruments establishing the duty to rescue and regulating the conduct and the coordination of rescue at sea operations through the establishment of SAR Regions and Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres;
- Ratify and implement instruments of international refugee law and human rights law providing safeguards for the rights of those in distress or rescued at sea; as well as transnational criminal law instruments addressing the organized crime behind many of the perilous journeys by sea; and protecting refugees and migrants against criminalization for resorting to smuggling;
- Include capacity building modules to inform standard operating procedures on the protection of refugees and migrants moving by sea in the standard training curricula for members of the naval forces, coast guards and other entities responsible for coordinating or conducting rescue at sea operations and disembarkation;
- Increase naval and aerial assets, technical capacity and personnel dedicated to coordinating and conducting rescue at sea operations along the routes used by refugees and migrants;
- Develop and introduce protection-sensitive disembarkation policies, procedures and mechanisms enabling the rapid identification of persons in situations of vulnerability and those with protection, including international protection needs and that preserve family unity;
- Establish mechanisms for screening and referral of persons with specific needs including children, single women, older persons, persons with disabilities, victims of trafficking and survivors of trauma and ensure strengthened specialized services to address their needs;
- Limit the use of immigration detention to a measure of last resort and develop alternatives to detention for refugees and migrants after disembarkation;
- Take measures to ensure access to justice for refugees and migrants subjected to abuse and exploitation prior to and during smuggling by sea, including in transit and destination countries;
- Disseminate standards and guidelines for the protection of refugees and migrants moving by sea, as outlined in the IMO-UNHCR-ICS Rescue at Sea: A Guide to Principles and Practice as Applied to Migrants and Refugees, among members of the naval forces, coast guards and other entities responsible for coordinating or conducting rescue at sea as well as crews operating aboard private vessels.
Supported by UNHCR and IOM
- Centre for Humanitarian Action at Sea
It is expected that States and other stakeholders including the ones mentioned in this pledge will formulate specific commitments regarding protection at sea benefitting asylum-seekers, refugees, stateless and migrants. UNHCR stands ready to support the development and the implementation of such pledges.