Briefing by the High Commissioner for Refugees
Expected Council Action
In November, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi will brief the Council. He is expected to address the global refugee crisis and the displacement aspect of various conflicts on the Security Council agenda. The briefing will take place under the agenda item “Briefing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”, which allows for a general briefing by the High Commissioner without tying it to a specific situation on the Council agenda. No outcome is expected.
Since the early 1990s, the Council has occasionally received briefings by the High Commissioner for Refugees about specific situations on the Council’s agenda, such as briefings by then-High Commissioner António Guterres on the Sahel in 2012 under the agenda item “Peace and Security in Africa” or on Syria in December 2015. But only twice has it received briefings under the agenda item “Briefing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”. The first such briefing was held on 10 November 2000 when High Commissioner Sadako Ogata gave her final address to the Council before leaving her post. While it was Ogata’s 12th Council briefing, all of her previous briefings had been held under country-specific agenda items. On 8 January 2009, Guterres briefed the Council under this general agenda item during the presidency of France.
Despite not having been used since Guterres’ briefing in early 2009, the agenda item remains on the most recent summary statement of matters of which the Security Council is seized. Under the current procedure (most recently articulated in the 30 August Note by the President of the Security Council), at “the beginning of each year, the Security Council will review the summary statement in order to determine if the Council has concluded its consideration of any of the listed items”. Agenda items that had not been considered in a Council formal meeting in the previous three years are automatically deleted unless a member state notifies the president of the Security Council by the end of February that it wishes that the item be retained. The briefing by the High Commissioner for Refugees agenda item was first slated for deletion in the 2014 “Summary statement by the Secretary-General of matters of which the Security Council is seized and of the stage reached in their consideration”. It has been retained due to a request each year since by a member state (in 2014 and 2016 by Denmark, in 2015 by Sweden and in 2017 by Norway) that it not be deleted from the Council’s agenda.
Italy, the Council President for November, has opted to use this general agenda item to request that Grandi brief on any situations he wishes to address on the Council’s agenda with a view to highlighting ways in which the Council can help alleviate the global refugee crisis and perhaps support the work of UNHCR. In his opening address to the Executive Committee of UNHCR in Geneva on 2 October, Grandi called for renewed international efforts to prevent and resolve conflict, saying that the international community was letting down millions of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs), and he urged a “rapidly changing world” to adopt a new focus on protection and solutions. Grandi stressed that refugee protection and security are complementary goals to be pursued in tandem and that refugee protection is essential for building regional and global stability. He may highlight this message to the Council and evaluate the myriad ways in which refugee situations affect security.
Numerous conflict situations on the Council’s agenda have a displacement component that Grandi may address. In late September, Grandi visited Bangladesh, where at the time it was estimated that more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims had fled from Myanmar since 25 August. Over five million Syrian refugees have been forced to flee the country due to the conflict there since 2011, and another six million Syrians have been internally displaced. The crises have put immense pressure on host countries such as Turkey, with over three million Syrians, and Lebanon, to which over one million Syrians have fled and which now hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. In another situation on the Council’s agenda, the war in Yemen has caused over 180,000 Yemenis to flee the country; meanwhile, over 280,000 others, mainly fleeing conflict or poverty in the Horn of Africa and hoping to reach oil-rich Gulf countries, are currently residing in Yemen despite the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe. These and many others, including the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan and Western Sahara, are among the situations on the Council’s agenda with a strong displacement aspect that Grandi may address. He may also offer recommendations as to how the Council ought to take displacement issues into account in its work on these issues or highlight avenues for enhanced cooperation between the Council and UNHCR.
UN DOCUMENTS ON BRIEFINGS BY THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|8 January 2009 S/PV.6062||This was a briefing by High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.|
|10 November 2000 S/PV.4219||This was Ogata’s briefing to the Security Council.|
|30 August 2017 S/2017/507||This was the Note of the Security Council containing the compendium of its working methods.|
|3 January 2017 S/2017/10||This was the summary statement by the Secretary-General of matters of which the Security Council is seized and the stage reached in their consideration.|