A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies shows why the United States was right to be the sole "no" vote on a United Nations resolution that included the "Global Compact on Refugees". Last year, the United States withdrew from the Global Compact on Migration, a separate but related effort.

Nayla Rush, a senior researcher at the Center and author of the analysis, wrote, "The Trump administration was right not to endorse the UN refugee compact. It is, in the words of a U.S. official, 'simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty.'

A key problem is the misleading nature of its so-called non-legally-binding character. The compact would compel the U.S. to support a whole range of international efforts, even placing climate change at the top of the agenda. The fact is, these UN agreements create a new model for international lawmaking, one that will shape state behavior and create new norms that will eventually form the basis for a self-enforcing international human rights law."

Among the problems with the UN Global Compact on Refugees:

  • It redefines resettlement beyond urgent refugee protection to include responsibility-sharing to help host countries with the "burdens" they face;
  • It increases resettlement admissions, and pushes for faster and more flexible means of resettlement processing;
  • It facilitates access to family reunification and includes extended family members who would not otherwise be eligible under existing refugee resettlement mechanisms;
  • It encourages other pathways for admission as "complements" to resettlement; 
  • It gives official protection not just to refugees (i.e., those fall under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees), but to internally displaced and stateless people as well, widening the scope of international responsibility and burden-sharing to millions more; and
  • It means embracing the New York Declaration that calls for, among other things, the prompt reception for all persons arriving in a country, whether refugees or migrants; reaffirms respect for the institution of asylum and the right to seek asylum; reaffirms also, in line with the principle of non-refoulement, that individuals are not to be returned at borders; provides legal stay to those seeking protection as refugees; reviews policies that criminalize cross-border movements; pursues alternatives to detention; and asks for sufficient funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) — the same organization the United States recently decided to stop funding.

View the full analysis: www.cis.org

The formal adoption of the refugee compact is not scheduled to take place until December 17 in Geneva. There is still the danger that the administration might be persuaded to change its mind in response to tweaks to the text by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). But no amount of tweaking can render this agreement a positive one for the United States.
 

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