16 February 2018, GENEVA – During the 23rd International Humanitarian and Security Conference held from 15 to 16 February 2018 in Geneva - organized by Webster University with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Canton of Geneva - the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue (hereinafter “the Geneva Centre”). Ambassador Idriss Jazairy called upon decision-makers in the West and in the Arab region “to identify joint solutions to the migrant and refugee crisis.”
Ambassador Jazairy said the largest and most massive movement of people on the move – since the end of the Second World War – calls for countries in the West and the Arab region to respond with one voice to the causes and consequences of the refugee and migrant crisis.
“We assert that people on the move also have the right to have rights. We need to disturb the complacency of hidebound or timid policy-makers. We must stimulate the creativeness of decision-makers from the Global North and the Global South. We must get them to talk to identify joint solutions to turn the current crisis into a golden opportunity,” the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director said.
In his statement, Ambassador Jazairy deplored the rise of populism, xenophobia and bigotry in the West targeting specifically migrants and refugees. He warned against the political momentum witnessed in local and national elections in European countries. “Although the inflow of displaced people towards Europe only adds 0.2% to Europe’s population,” - he said - “human solidarity and justice are being frayed by fearmongering about ‘the Other.’”
In the MENA region, decades of geopolitical power games and policies of “creative chaos” including unilateral coercive sanctions “force people to leave their home societies”, he noted. Although the migrant and refugees crisis is not of their doing, Ambassador Jazairy underlined that Jordan provides protection and assistance to refugees that “add up to 20% of its own population.”
To overcome the current complexities, Ambassador Jazairy appealed to “people of good will from different faiths and denominations” to “work towards a world society that is reconciled with diversity, so that the latter is not feared but embraced and celebrated.” He likewise called upon decision-makers in the West and in the Arab region to work together to identify joint solutions to the refugee and migrant crisis. Multilateralism and consensus-building must guide the endeavours of decision-makers in this regard. Ambassador Jazairy said:
“When world societies work together to achieve common goals, the fruit of their efforts bring great results. When they united their voices in decolonizing Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East, it became a reality. When they agreed to eradicate smallpox, it became a reality. When they once again joined forces to eliminate Apartheid in South Africa, it became a reality. These were the challenges that were successfully confronted by the international community in the 20th century.”
He concluded stating that multilateralism and consensus-building must not be replaced by unilateralism and protectionism in the context of the migrant and refugee crisis. Ambassador Jazairy remarked:
“At the present time, the Global Compacts on Migrants and Refugees will only beget ‘success stories’ if everyone is on board. Can we not in the 21st century, whose hallmark is supposed to be the victory of human rights on the ground, have the courage and the foresight to address in this spirit the challenge of people on the move? Let us hope against hope that the 21st century will be at least in this regard the century of the Great Convergence.”