The Global Compact on Refugees: The road to inclusive and relevant impact

Recommendations for international actors working towards GCR objectives.

Mekhla Jha, Sumedha Choudhury, and Jessica Field.

Brief Summary

This month, December 2020, it is two years since the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) affirmed the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), and more than four years since UNGA adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. These agreements constitute the biggest global commitment to refugee protection since the 1951 Refugee Convention. To date, however, their impacts remain limited.

This policy brief — based on an India-focused edited volume, The Global Compact in Refugees: Indian Perspectives and Experiences (Field & Burra, 2020) — reflects on where the GCR might be falling short. In the volume, contributors highlight how, in India (and elsewhere in the world), the GCR’s significance has faded as nationalist forces have mobilised anti-refugee rhetoric. Contributions also show how research, legal support and grassroots action for refugee protection in India is surging.

Despite this expertise, Indian and Global South perspectives continue to be overlooked at the international level, even though decentralised action presents a more inclusive and context-relevant route to achieving GCR goals, in India and beyond.

This policy brief:

  • Calls for academic, legal, and civil society experts from the Global South to shape and lead GCR discussions;
  • Recommends the creation of regional solidarity forums hosted by relevant regional actors to work towards GCR objectives in more context-relevant ways;
  • Recommends that the GCR’s digital platform proactively includes grassroots ‘good practice’ examples in refugee-hosting contexts, and reorientates case studies from ‘show-casing’ activities to facilitating change.