UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants: the international community's responsibility – Switzerland's commitment

Article, 16.09.2016

The first United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants is taking place on 19 September 2016 in New York and will see the international community adopt joint measures in response to the large movements of refugees and migrants. Switzerland will be focusing in particular on improving protection on the ground, preventing forced displacement and finding sustainable solutions for directly affected populations.

Over 80% of refugees and internally displaced people live in developing countries. More than 80% of the refugees and internally displaced persons are living in the developing countries. © Keystone

Refugees and forcibly displaced people have become a tragic symbol of global challenges and risks: the ongoing armed conflicts in Syria and the Horn of Africa, climate change and natural disasters, violent extremism, human rights violations, fragility, poverty and lack of prospects. There are currently 65 million refugees, more than half of whom are children and young people.

The need for a global response

Considering the growing challenges, strengthening international cooperation is all the more important as no country can find sustainable solutions single-handedly. Common approaches and better responsibility-sharing are needed. Over 80% of refugees and internally displaced people live in developing countries, which often do not have the capacity to cope with the challenges alone. The UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants, organised at the initiative of the UN Secretary-General, aims to tackle this and to encourage the international community to adopt a comprehensive political declaration.

The summit will acknowledge the Geneva Convention on Refugees and its principles as the core element underpinning refugee protection. Measures will also be proposed to better protect migrants, i.e. those who are not covered by the Refugee Convention. These individuals should be able to assert their rights under the existing international human rights frameworks. Thanks in part to Switzerland's involvement in negotiating the declaration, greater emphasis will be placed on preventing forced migration and displacement. Efforts will also be made in partnership with the private sector and other actors to provide refugees with the prospect of a brighter future in their home countries. Finally, the declaration also highlights the contribution of migrants to sustainable development, thus underscoring the positive aspects of migration. In this area, the declaration builds on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted twelve months ago.

The UN Summit will adopt urgent measures and set out the cornerstones of future international cooperation. These will be defined in more detail over the next two years and incorporated in two global compacts on refugees and migration. Most of these processes are expected to take place in Geneva, in recognition of the city's role as the centre of the international dialogue on migration.

Since the launch of the Bern Initiative to promote multilateral dialogue on migration 15 years ago, Switzerland has been a firm believer in the value of such processes. Global challenges require global solutions.   

The Geneva Convention on Refugees 

Summit on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants, 19.09.2016

71st UN General Assembly

Other events

Other conferences on the margins of the UN Summit in New York will also address this issue. For example, Switzerland is supporting a high-level forum on the role of the private sector in displacement and migration, in which the President of the Swiss Confederation Johann Schneider-Ammann will participate. A report on innovative public-private partnerships in the area of forced migration and development, which was funded by the SDC, will also be presented at the forum.

Concordia Summit – Private Sector Forum on Migration and Refugees

Forced Displacement and Development – Public-Private Partnership for Sustainable Solutions (Earth Security Group)

Refugees and migration: Switzerland's role

Switzerland works to protect refugees, internally displaced people and migrants in crisis regions. It also supports measures to prevent forced migration through the work of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Human Security Division (HSD) and the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). The FDFA and SEM also fund projects aimed at promoting local integration in countries of first refuge, while taking into account the needs of the local population. The FDFA coordinates the various migration and development measures with the Federal Department of Justice and police (FDJP) in order to ensure complementarity and coherence with Swiss foreign policy on migration.   

Interview with Eduard Gnesa, Special Ambassador for International Cooperation in Migration 

Switzerland at the international refugee summit:

Press releases ; speeches

FDFA commitment to refugee and migration issues

The SDC and migration

Menschliche Sicherheit und Migration

Human security and migration

SDC projects on Migration

International collaboration, SEM