JRS Australia and the Global Compacts

United Nations in NYC Global Compacts

The Compacts are the most important global governance instruments to be introduced within the international system in the arenas of migration and refugees in decades.

As the consultations on the Global Compacts on Refugees (GCR) and the negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM) continue, JRS Australia has been actively involved as a key civil society voice.

The Compacts are the most important global governance instruments to be introduced within the international system in the arenas of migration and refugees in decades.

In early May, JRS Australia Director Carolina Gottardo, who is the focal point on the GCM for the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APPRN), was a key voice at a roundtable on a whole-of-society approach and complementarity between the two Compacts in Bangkok. The roundtable was organized by APRRN with key participants including international organizations, representatives of member states, funders and key civil society representatives from the region and beyond.

Complementarity – that is ensuring both Compacts speak to each other and no one is left behind– is key priority for JRS Australia and APRRN. This is particularly relevant for certain groups including people seeking asylum, stateless people and other groups of people on the move and is a key consideration in the Asia Pacific region where most countries are not signatory to the Refugee Convention 1951.

“The reality of migration is fluid. People move for multiple and complex reasons, and flows of migrants include those with varied motivations, which can also shift over time and move across categories. It is essential that the Global Compacts are based on human rights and gender responsive principles and that they leave no one behind,” says Ms. Gottardo.

“Given this reality, ignoring complementarity could obscure the human rights and protection needs of many people who do not fit neatly into the categories of ‘refugee’ or ‘migrant.’ For example, people seeking asylum, people affected by natural disasters and victims of trafficking are groups who could fall through the cracks in some circumstances,” she continues.

Following the roundtable in Bangkok, Ms. Gottardo participated as a civil society observer at member state negotiations on the GCM in New York in mid-May, representing APPRN’s 300 plus members.

During this round of GCM of negotiations, APRRN and the ACT Alliance co-led discussions with key member states on issues such as the growing reality of mixed migration, and the importance of promoting complementary pathways to protection through labor, student, and family reunion visas through a roundtable. Ms Gottardo was also active as a key member of the UN Women Expert Group on addressing women’s human rights in the GCM and working with key member states to achieve a gender responsive compact. She also met bilaterally with the Australian delegation and with other member states from the Asia Pacific region.

***

Meanwhile in Parramatta, JRS Australia partnered with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Forced Migration Research Network, and the Australian National Committee of Refugee Women (ANCORW), to host a two-day workshop on the intersections between the global compacts and gender.

On the first day Dr. Linda Bartolomei and Prof.. Eileen Pittaway led a discussion in which over twenty women seeking asylum and refugees highlighted and analyzed core challenges affecting their ability to seek safety, and integrate in Australia.

Key concerns raised included the long processing times for visa applications, the arbitrary access to work and study rights for women seeking asylum, the lack of protections for those experiencing or at risk of domestic or family violence, and the absence of family reunion.

On the second day, representatives of the gender audit team met with key refugee sector leaders from the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA), Settlement Services International (SSI), and Act for Peace. JRS Australia also shared results from its pilot project “Free from VAWG” that looks at the experiences of women seeking asylum who are survivors or at risk of violence against women/girls (VAWG).

A commitment was made to raise these concerns and proposed solutions at upcoming GCR consultations and GCM negotiations in Geneva and New York.

***

Ms. Tamara Domicelj, Regional Protection Advisor, Act for Peace, and APPRN’s focal point on the GCR is representing the region in the GCM and GCR discussions in June 2018, whilst Ms. Gottardo will attend the final consultations on the GCR in Geneva and final GCM negotiations in New York in July 2018 respectively.

Once the Compacts have been adopted the real work begins. Civil society actors across Australia are engaged in discussions on how to best ensure that the commitments member states make will be mainstreamed into an action plan and implemented on the ground in countries such as Australia and other countries in the region.

Share Button