Strengthening the Global Refugee Protection System: Recommendations for the Global Compact on Refugees

Kevin Appleby
Center for Migration Studies

Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Strengthening the Global Refugee Protection System: Recommendations for the Global Compact on Refugees


On September 19, 2016, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. This document launched a two-year process to develop a Global Compact on Responsibility Sharing on Refugees (“Global Compact on Refugees”) and a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. With a record 65 million displaced persons in the world, the global community must come together to fashion a stronger protection regime for persons on the move. This paper outlines broad themes and specific recommendations that the Global Compact on Refugees should adopt on how to strengthen the global refugee protection system. The recommendations fall into several categories: (1) responsibility sharing for the protection of refugees; (2) filling in protection gaps; (3) balancing and replacing deterrence strategies with protection solutions; (4) refugee resettlement; and (5) building refugee self-sufficiency. Some of the key recommendations include:

  • the development of a responsibility-sharing formula to respond to large movements of refugees;
  • the development of an early warning system to identify and respond to nations in crisis;
  • the adoption of principles included in the Nansen and Migrants in Countries of Crisis initiatives;
  • the use of temporary protection measures to protect populations that flee natural disaster;
  • the adoption of model processes that ensure safe and voluntary return;
  • cooperation between destination and transit countries to expand refugee protections;
  • the provision of asylum and due process protections at borders;
  • the use of development assistance to ensure the self-sufficiency of refugees;
  • the adoption of a goal to resettle 10 percent of the global refugee population each year;
  • the establishment of a refugee matching system between refugees and resettlement countries; and
  • the adoption of coherent strategies, involving all sectors, to address large movements of refugees.

This paper draws heavily, albeit not exclusively, from a series of papers published as a special collection in the Journal on Migration and Human Security[1] on strengthening the global system of refugee protection.


[1] Rethinking the Global Refugee Protection System, Journal on Migration and Human Security, Center for Migration Studies, 2016-2017. See

Author Names

Kevin Appleby

Journal Journal on Migration and Human Security
Date of Publication 2017
Pages 780-799
DOI 10.1177/233150241700500404
Volume 5
Issue Number 4