Tomorrow (24 June) Security Council members are expected to hold an Arria-formula meeting on: “Responding effectively to the needs of refugees, displaced persons and returnees: the role of the United Nations Security Council and its members.” The anticipated briefers are: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (via video-teleconference); Permanent Representative of the African Union to the UN Fatima K. Mohammed; Special Advisor of the Secretary-General for African Affairs Bience Gawanas; and ICRC Vice-President Gilles Carbonnier (via video-teleconference). In addition to Council members, other member states have been invited to participate in the meeting.
The meeting has been organised by the three African members of the Security Council—Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa—in conjunction with the AU Permanent Observer Mission to the UN. The organisers worked closely with the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Africa, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the local ICRC representation in preparing the meeting.
The meeting takes place amidst significant international efforts to address the global refugee crisis. More than 70 million people have been forced from their homes (the highest number ever recorded), including 25.9 million refugees, 41.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), and 3.5 million asylum seekers, according to UNHCR. The meeting also marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Organisation of African Unity Convention Governing Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa and the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance for Internally Displaced Persons in Africa.
The Council held a briefing on the global displacement crisis on 9 April, during Germany’s presidency of the Council. At the meeting, Grandi briefed and emphasised the key role of the Council in supporting countries hosting the greatest number of refugees.
In preparation for the meeting, the organisers have circulated a concept note suggesting participants focus their statements on practical measures to address the crisis more effectively. Among the questions proposed to guide the statements are:
- How can the Security Council and its members help to improve the situation of refugees, displaced persons and returnees?
- What role can the Council play in implementing some of the key provisions of the Global Compact on Refugees, which the General Assembly adopted on 17 December 2018 and which provides guidance for states and international organisations on how to meet the needs of refugees in ways that benefit them as well as their host communities?
- How can the strategic partnership between the AU and the UN positively impact refugees and IDPs worldwide?