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As the world continues to face growing numbers of refugees and displaced people, with States overwhelmingly responding with increased use of detention and other harmful border control practices, there is need for a more coordinated, humane, and rights-based response.


To build such a response, on 19 September 2016, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will host an important high-level meeting (HLM) addressing “large movements of refugees and migrants.” The HLM will be convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, and held at the UNGA in New York. The HLM will be informed by the UN Secretary General’s recent report entitled “In safety and dignity: addressing large movements of refugees and migrants”.  The report identified three interdependent pillars which are crucial to strengthening global migration governance:


  1. Upholding the safety and dignity of large movements of both refugees and migrants
  2. Global compact on responsibility-sharing for refugees
  3. Global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration


Regarding the use of detention and other restrictive border controls, the Secretary General’s report includes a number of important recommendations for States in Pillar 1, including:


“To review border management and detention policies to ensure that the human rights of all those who arrive are upheld in line with international standards, consider alternatives to the detention of refugees and migrants and ensure that children, as a matter of principle, are never detained for purposes of immigration control;


The report further urges States to adopt alternatives to the detention of refugee and migrant children that are based on fulfilling the child’s best interests and which ensure child rights to liberty and family:


“I therefore call upon States to consider alternatives to detention for purposes of immigration control and to adopt a commitment never to detain children for this purpose…”


The Office of the President of the UN General Assembly (OPGA), the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) and the UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs (UN DESA) have now opened online registration for members of the civil society to apply for attendant and speaker roles at the HLM and the informal hearings between stakeholders and UN Member States on July 18. IDC encourages its Members to apply for these roles, and use this opportunity to advocate for stronger protection of the rights of refugees and migrants on a worldwide stage. Registrations will close:

  • 11 June: For 18 July informal hearings
  • 31 July: For the 19 September high-level meeting

To apply for an attendant or speaker role to these events please visit:


In addition, OPGA has requested a Civil Society Steering Committee (Committee) to help set the agenda for the HLM. The Committee will play an important role in determining the main themes of civil society recommendations to the HLM; help to set the CSO interactive dialogue framework; and decide upon the CSO speakers/representatives to the HLM.  The IDC has applied to be a member of the Committee in order to better advocate on behalf of our Members and final decisions regarding Committee membership are expected to be announced by the UN’s NGO Liaison Service shortly.  For more information on the IDC’s involvement and advocacy aims at the HLM, please contact IDC Advocacy Coordinator, Ben Lewis ([email protected]).

For additional information about the HLM, please visit here.