Renewed Parliamentary solidarity to deliver on the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration
Promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies: fighting intolerance is the theme of the 146th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), held in the Kingdom of Bahrain from 11-15 March 2023. The issues being discussed at the Assembly are growing humanitarian needs due to new and ongoing conflict and pressure on public finance.
UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, and IOM Director General, António Vitorino, spoke to the 178 parliaments and 14 associate members in the Opening Plenary General Debate in a Special Segment on the twin Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration.
UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, said, "Parliamentarians are central to achieving the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees in two ways. They can ensure that their governments support refugees by enacting laws and policies, and as elected representatives, they can reach out to their constituents, non-governmental organisations, private and business sectors, faith-based groups, local mayors, and refugees themselves." "Parliamentarians," she said, "can then provide the level of protection that refugees need."
Gillian Trigg’s address highlighted how UNHCR and IOM work closely together to ensure a joined-up response to migrants and refugees. Ms. Triggs emphasised the importance of addressing the root causes of displacement and building stronger democratic institutions, promoting good governance, and international solidarity to support generous host countries.
IOM Director General, António Vitorino, emphasised the importance of the connection and engagement between migrants and their host communities to nurture trust and mutually supportive relations and said, "The role of parliamentarians as elected representatives is critical for building peaceful and inclusive societies as a prerequisite for broad-based development and a bridge out of humanitarian dependency."
The IPU President, Duarte Pacheco, thanked UNHCR and IOM for their work and called on parliamentarians to support the implementation of the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration. "We need the contributions of UNHCR and IOM because they work with refugees and migrants every day, and we don’t know how much is being done because it is often done behind the scenes. You have saved many lives."
Bilateral discussions were held on the sidelines of the proceedings with national parliamentary delegations to explore strengthening asylum systems, better burden and responsibility sharing, and stepping up efforts to end statelessness.
Gillian Triggs also participated in the Forum of Women Parliamentarians’ discussion on Putting gender equality at the centre of water security, climate resilience and peace sustainability. She stressed that the climate crisis does not affect everyone equally. Displaced women and girls experience climate change's greatest impacts, which amplify existing gender inequalities. Ms. Triggs said women’s leadership and better financing are needed to devise and drive climate action and disaster responses.
Increased engagement with parliamentarians will continue as UNHCR hopes to welcome the development of new pledges and commitments by parliaments in the lead-up to the next Global Refugee Forum in 2023, building on commitments made at the GRF in December 2019. Regional and international parliaments have so far submitted 11 pledges in support of the GCR objectives, while several other State pledges made require parliamentary action and involvement through oversight, legislative, policymaking, budgetary, and opinion-shaper functions.