You are here


UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants 

United Nations, New York, 19 September 2016


On 19 September, the United Nations General Assembly convened the Summit for Refugees and Migrants.  It was the first time that world leaders came together at the United Nations to address issues of refugees and migrants jointly.


The Summit is occurring at a time of unprecedented levels of human mobility. In 2015, 244 million people lived in a country other than where they were born. The number of persons forcibly displaced from their homes due to war, violence and political oppression is higher than at any time since the Second World War: roughly 65 million at the end of 2015, including more than 20 million refugees and asylum-seekers. 


The political declaration adopted at the Summit, known as the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, expresses the political will of world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale, based on a commitment to sustainable development for all. The declaration includes measures to alleviate the risks faced by refugees and migrants through better coordination of the global response to crises, as well as measures to protect the human rights of all migrants.  


The New York Declaration also includes a number of initiatives to address the most pressing needs and to hasten the international response to any future crises. For a deeper consideration of migration issues and to address long-term issues, the declaration calls for organizing an intergovernmental conference on international migration to be held in 2018. It is envisaged that the main outcome of the conference will be a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.


IUSSP involvement in the preparation of this summit


As noted in the previous IUSSP Bulletin, the Office of the President of the UN General Assembly, the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) and UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) established a civil society Steering Committee to support broad and inclusive participation of civil society in the 19 September Summit on Refugees and Migrants as well as the preliminary stakeholder hearings which occurred on 18 July 2016 at UN Headquarters in New York. The main task of the Steering Committee was to provide inputs to the programme for the 18 July hearings and to recommend civil society speakers for both events.


The IUSSP was selected as one of the 25 organizations to serve on the Steering Committee. Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi and Ellen Percy Kraly have represented IUSSP in this process.


Between June and August 2016, Ellen Kraly participated in a series of meetings to first draft the Concept Note to express the themes for the Informal Interactive Multi-stakeholder Hearing on 18 July (in support of the preparatory process towards the High-level Plenary Meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants on 19 September 2016) and to develop recommendations to the Office of the President of the General Assembly regarding representatives of civil society organizations to participate in the meetings.  This process required the review of more than 200 detailed applications and associated documentation.  The final programme for the July hearings included an opening session and the following four thematic sessions:


  • Panel 1: Reframing the narrative on migration and refugees in the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda
  • Panel 2: Upholding and protecting the human rights and dignity of all refugees and migrants in the context of large movements
  • Panel 3: Achieving a Global Compact for responsibility-sharing for refugees
  • Panel 4: Achieving a Global Compact for safe, regular and orderly migration 


Following each of the panels, representatives from organizations holding consultative status with the United Nations could request to make (very) brief statements. Ellen Kraly made a statement during the fourth panel concerning international migration. Its themes were informed by discussions among stakeholders and with colleagues from the field of population.


During the same week of the multi-stakeholder hearings, the Co-Facilitators of the Summit, Her Excellency Dina Kawar, Permanent Representative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Nations and His Excellency David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations, provided an opportunity for additional statements by members of civil society organizations. On 20 July, Ellen Kraly was given the opportunity to deliver a similar statement to the co-facilitators and their staffs. 


Following the July hearings the Civil Society Steering Committee, including Ellen Kraly, re-convened to review applications from over 400 representatives of organizations to provide guidance to the Office of the President of the General Assembly (OPGA) for the nine speaking roles for civil society at September Summit. The final selections by the OPGA are available here


General information on international migration at the United Nations is available at:


See also: