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Responsibility Sharing and the Global Compact on Refugees

Doyle, Michael W.; Macklin, Audrey

Strengthening the Refugee Regime calls for enhancing responsibility sharing. Responsibility sharing was a central commitment in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. It also is a key commitment in the preamble to the landmark 1951 Refugee Convention. Countries of first refuge are promised that their providing refuge will be met by “international cooperation,” though without specifying its content. Yet, just as the 1951 Refugee Convention failed to define what international cooperation meant; so too the New York Declaration is – as was the Humanitarian Summit before it - long on principles; and short on specific commitments. Today, therefore, responsibility sharing, as Peter Sutherland has so aptly characterized it, amounts to “Responsibility by Proximity.” Neighboring countries such as Syria’s neighbors, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan overwhelmingly serve as the refuge for Syrians who have managed to flee its devastating civil war. This means that globally the developing world, both relatively poor and home to so many of the world’s armed conflicts, also serves as the refuge for 86% of the world’s refugees … and it does so without adequate international funding (only 40% of the UNHCR appeal for the region was met in 2016).

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