3. Amend global indicators and develop country-level indictors
Research in Bangladesh made clear that the proposed global indicator framework for the compact lacks key metrics. For example, there are no metrics for non-financial contributions to host countries, the impact of contributions, support towards conditions for safe, voluntary and dignified return, and adherence to non-refoulement. There was also a prevailing sense that in a context like the Rohingya crisis, the aspirations of the indicator framework are too far out of reach and could discourage progress. More could be done to recognise and welcome incremental steps, such as the Bangladesh government’s approval of an informal learning curriculum for refugee children, through additional country-level indicators.
4. Convene a global discussion on innovative approaches to responsibility-sharing
It is widely assumed that easing the pressure on host countries is mainly about mobilising financial contributions. This assumption rests on an overly simplistic understanding of what ‘easing pressure’ involves. Pressure comes from a variety of sources, including negative public opinion, environmental pressure and security concerns. Sometimes money is the solution but not always. In particular, the case of Bangladesh highlights the importance of diplomatic efforts to support conditions for durable solutions as a form of easing pressure.
5. Develop new tools to expand third-country solutions and support conditions for voluntary return in safety and dignity
The compact is weighted towards local integration and refugee self-reliance, and proposes few concrete tools in terms of significantly expanding access to third-country solutions or advancing conditions to support safe, voluntary and dignified return. There was a stark contrast in Bangladesh between the importance of safe, voluntary and dignified return, both for the government and for refugees themselves, and the lack of concrete tools in the compact to facilitate progress on this front.
6. Encourage high-income countries to meet their commitments to the compact
Finally, interviews revealed a perception in Bangladesh of an inconsistency among donor governments: on the one hand pushing for significant reforms in Bangladesh, for example on self-reliance, and on the other implementing policy restrictions domestically. This is not a new trend, but without progress on implementing the compact’s principles domestically in donor countries, it is likely that host states will continue to question the compact’s responsibility-sharing spirit.
This first Global Refugee Forum is an opportunity to take stock of progress and credit success where it is due. However, this and future forums also need to take a critical look at lessons so far from large-scale crises, and take action so that these inform the future of the Compact. This is crucial if it is to live up to its promise as a game-changer for refugee responses, and move from words on paper to making a meaningful difference in the lives of refugees and the communities hosting them.
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