What's In Blue

Posted Mon 8 Apr 2019

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Briefing

Tomorrow (9 April), UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi is expected to brief the Security Council. The briefing will take place under the agenda item “Briefing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”. Germany, the Council President for April, 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. Member states are expected to make statements following Grandi’s briefing. The session is designed to promote interactivity, with member states encouraged to ask questions of the High Commissioner following Grandi’s initial remarks.

Grandi is expected to address the current situation of refugees worldwide and the displacement aspect of various conflicts on the Security Council agenda, with a view to highlighting ways in which the Council can help alleviate refugee crises and perhaps support the work of UNHCR. Possible cases that Grandi could refer to are Syria, Myanmar, Venezuela, and Libya, among others. He may emphasise the importance of addressing the root causes of refugee crises. He may further describe how to build the resilience of refugees and address their needs; in this regard, Grandi may highlight that returns should be determined by refugees themselves, not by political expediency, and explore how humanitarian assistance and access to refugees can be enhanced.

Grandi may underscore the shared international responsibility to meet the challenges posed by what is currently the highest level of displacement ever recorded, with some 68.5 million people forcibly displaced worldwide. He may discuss the importance of implementing the Global Compact on Refugees, which was affirmed by the General Assembly on 17 December 2018, following two years of consultations with member states and other stakeholders led by UNHCR. The compact provides guidance for states and international organisations about how to support refugees and meet their needs in ways that benefit them and their host communities. Its objectives are to ease pressures on host countries, promote refugee self-reliance, expand access to third-country solutions, and support conditions in countries of origin in order to facilitate refugees’ safe return.

A number of Council members may emphasise the importance of building on the Compact by promoting enhanced international cooperation to address the global refugee crisis. Some members may note that refugee flows can be a predictor of violent conflict; they may discuss what the Council can do to prevent emerging crises preceded or accompanied by large-scale displacement. In discussing root causes of refugee crises, some members may draw the connection between security and development, noting how a lack of development can lead to insecurity and conflict that result in forced displacement and make it difficult for refugees to return to their countries of origin. There may also be a recognition of the critical role that UNHCR plays in providing physical and legal protections to refugees.

Grandi last briefed the Council under the agenda item “Briefing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees” on 2 November 2017 (S/PV.8083). On that occasion, he said that: “The sharp rise in forced displacement reflects weaknesses in international cooperation and declining capacity to prevent, contain and resolve conflicts.” He added that when local situations are neglected because of short-term interests, they can eventually expand to become transnational crises.