Throughout history people have been forced to flee their country because of persecution, war or violence. In the wake of the Second World War the number of displaced people increased. The 1951 Refugee Convention, signed by 144 State parties, was agreed as the key legal instrument defining the term ‘refugee’. It outlines the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.
Nonetheless, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2015 report released today notes that the numbers of forcibly displaced people globally has risen sharply each year. Since 2011, when UNHCR announced a new record of 42.5 million forcibly displaced people globally, there has been an increase of more than 50 per cent – from 42.5million in 2011 to 45.2 million in 2012, 51.2 million in 2013 and 59.5 million in 2014. The scale of present challenge has led to a junction of different factors highlighting the need to reassess the current response systems.
2016 offers an unprecedented opportunity to stand with refugees and revisit the approaches to refugees and situations of protracted displacement that have guided policy and operations to date, building on international momentum and growing political will.
Against this backdrop the UK Secretary of State for International Development, Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, President Jim Kim of the World Bank and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, in association with Wilton Park, convened a forum on new approaches to protracted forced displacement to act as a stepping stone to the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS).
The Forum sought to secure better outcomes for refugees and the communities that host them by drawing on a wide range of stakeholders, including refugee hosting countries’ practical experiences and challenges they experience when dealing with refugees and protracted forced displacement.
The discussions contributed to the development of the Wilton Park Principles, a set of guiding principles based on five proposed themes:
- Working through National and Local systems
- Support to Host Communities and Social Cohesion
- Economic Participation and Growth
- Impactful and Innovative Financing
- Improved Data and Evidence
The principles, which were presented at the WHS and will be pursued further at the UN General Assembly high level meeting on refugees and migrants in September, build upon the convergence of interests among all stakeholders and draw on the complementary strengths of both humanitarian and developmental approaches.