The meeting was convened as a preparatory briefing for civil society stakeholders prior to the official General Assembly meeting regarding Refugees and Migrants issue. The briefing began by the elucidation of UNHCR’s stance on the active involvement of civil society in General Assembly Meetings and global campaigns delivered by UNHCR’s official. He called on civil society to recognize the growing inclination of the United Nations in protecting NGOs’ voices with measures that range from streamlining the application procedure of UN-Ground Passes to extending general consultative memberships of civil society to the UN, therefore empowering NGOs to channel their opinions more effectively. Following the opening address, one of the NGOs’ representatives questioned the effectiveness of the status quo, that is, to intentionally segregate civil society from diplomats and government officials at United Nations official meetings as evident by the inability for civil society members to conduct close inter-personal interaction with the officials. Whilst acknowledging NGOs’ shared concerns, UNHCR invited concerned individuals to instead direct their opinions to the incoming candidates of UN Secretary-General and President of General Assembly for their consideration during their respective consultation sessions. In response, an NGO member called on the UN to formalize the relationship between civil society and the UN, its agencies and member states.
On the lack of coherence between NGOs on refugees and migrant’s issues, UNHCR’s official urged concerned parties to unite, and sound us one voice in order to amplify their influence. Solidarity between NGOs is essential for global collaboration in the formulation of comprehensive response to the said issue. Also, he pointed out that since societal stigma towards migrants and refugees vary from society to society, culture to culture, it’s therefore important to contextualize current global attempts in dealing with refugees and migrants so that no one would be left behind.
Meeting: Briefing to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the High-Level Plenary of the General Assembly on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants (to be held on 19 September 2016) and the Global Campaign #WithRefugees (organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR))
Date/Time/Location: Friday, 10 June, 2016; 08:45 – 09:45; Conference Room 12
Speakers: Officials from UNHCR, Representatives from Civil Society/NGOs
Written by: WIT Representative, Raphael LEUNG
Edited by: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham