The current international refugee system is inequitable and unsustainable. The intensive and protracted nature of conflicts and the broader instability sparked by civil wars have contributed to mass displacement beyond the capacity of the current international system. If left unaddressed, the rising levels of forced, protracted displacement will undoubtedly drive up the costs of sustaining the global refugee protection system, perhaps even exponentially. Further exacerbating the problem, climate change is projected to displace millions, and potentially hundreds of millions, in the coming decades (IOM, 2016). The growing divergence between financing needs and the resources available to refugee host countries is already undermining economic growth in developing countries as they struggle to support their own citizens and refugee populations. Simultaneously, international commitments to responsibility-sharing and cooperation are coming under strain amid a retreat of leadership on displacement issues.
While the Global Compact – specifically the refugee summits and global platform – shows promise, states are unlikely to make up current and future funding gaps, and ad hoc donor drives and pledging conferences are merely stopgap measures that fail to provide long term, sustainable solutions to the challenges facing the system. Unless new approaches to financing are developed, the global refugee response system will remain unsustainable and ineffective in addressing the needs of forcibly displaced individuals and the communities that host them.
The purpose of this workshop is to produce a series of guiding principles, policy recommendations, and best practices to be considered by the World Refugee Council for inclusion in its final report.
Lloyd Axworthy is chair of the World Refugee Council, a group of leaders, practitioners and innovators from around the world, convened by the Centre for International Governance Innovation and supported by the Government of Canada.
Fen Osler Hampson was a CIGI distinguished fellow and director of the Global Security & Politics Program (2012-2019). Currently he serves as chancellor’s professor at Carleton University and continues to provide leading research and insight to policy makers in the areas of Canadian foreign policy and international and regional security. He also serves as executive director of the World Refugee Council and was co-director of the Global Commission on Internet Governance and director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.
With a distinguished career in Canadian diplomacy — including posts as ambassador to Germany, permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) and adviser to various prime ministers, Paul Heinbecker is one of Canada’s most experienced commentators on foreign policy and international governance. Paul is also the director of the Centre for Global Relations at Wilfrid Laurier University.