Paving the way to the High-Level Officials Meeting

Foreword by the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection
GCR in Action

Paving the way to the High-Level Officials Meeting

Foreword by the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection
19 May 2021
Three women wearing masks

UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, hosts a focus group with internally displaced people in the Josina Machel neighbourhood of Pemba, Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique.

Last year, many members of the international community who made pledges at the Global Refugee Forum stepped up to fulfil their commitments and advance key initiatives to improve the lives of refugees and host communities, notably often adapting or accelerating their pledges to support the response to the pandemic. The articles below highlight some promising related initiatives and advancements for refugees and their host communities, with a focus on education and asylum capacity.

This December, States, NGOs, refugees, the private sector, academia, development actors, cities, faith leaders, and many more will gather again, both virtually and in person, for the High-Level Officials Meeting, an event foreseen in the Global Compact on Refugees to reflect on progress made since the last Forum and chart the way to the future.

Reflecting on progress

To track progress made to date, we are once again inviting pledging entities to submit progress updates on their pledges. As of today, around 75 per cent of the pledges updated so far are in progress, 10 per cent are in the planning stage, and 81 pledges have been fulfilled – numbers we hope to increase by the time of the High-Level Officials Meeting in December.

In addition, UNHCR is convening regional, thematic, and stakeholder-specific stocktaking events to identify progress, challenges, and areas where more efforts are needed to foster responsibility sharing, particularly considering the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Education Co-sponsorship Alliance, for example, kicked off the stocktaking exercise late last year by organizing a virtual event and presenting their report on the progress made by over 80 members towards fulfilling education pledges. On May 5th, private sector actors gathered for a virtual event and an insightful and inspiring conversation on the many ways they can support refugees today to achieve self-reliance. Many more of these key events are coming up, starting with ‘Clean and Safe Energy in Refugee Settings: Moving forward on the Clean Energy Challenge’ on June 3rd and ‘Helping Ensure Age, Gender, and Diversity Inclusive Pledges and Good Practices for Global Refugee Forum’ on June 10th.

We are also launching the first Global Compact on Refugees indicator report in November ahead of the HLOM to provide the quantitative evidence base, complemented by qualitative analyses and strong examples of the human impact of the work done to advance the Compact.

Charting the future

As the mid-point stocktaking moment between Global Refugee Forums, the High-Level Officials Meeting will help us identify next steps towards accomplishing the objectives of the Global Compact. This comes at an important time, not least as we prepare for the medium to long-term impacts of the pandemic and develop the directions for the next Forum.

In considering how best to ensure that the meeting in December is substantive, impactful, and outcome-oriented, the High-Level Officials Meeting will be organized around three priorities: expanding support for refugees and host countries, advancing implementation of pledges made at the Global Refugee Forum, and identifying areas in need of further support.

Participants of the High-Level Officials Meeting will be able to reflect upon how we have succeeded in bringing more actors to the table, increased support for refugees and host communities, and what more could be done.  Together, we will assess progress of national and regional arrangements, such as the support platforms, and consider how we could strengthen our efforts in these areas.

Members of the international community will also be asked to think about how we could work together to advance the implementation of the pledges made at the first Global Refugee Forum. In this respect, we urge stakeholders and pledging entities to join efforts to support the important pledges made by host countries at the Forum.

This critical work will help to inform the directions for the next Global Refugee Forum, and we count on strong engagement from all stakeholders.

We have set up ambitious goals for 2021, encouraged by the concrete examples of pledges that we are now seeing coming alive and making a difference in the lives of people forced to flee. It is also opportune, as it coincides with the 70th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 60th anniversary of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, presenting us with a moment to consider how far we have come since that time, and how we can ensure continued commitment to their central principles in all the work we do to support refugees, stateless people and host countries and communities.

We have high hopes that the meeting in December will get us closer to achieving the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees and look forward to continuing this exciting year together.