Establishing a Road Map for the World Refugee Council

Refugees have human rights. And too often — and in too many places — those rights are not being honoured. Perhaps most importantly of all, we have to begin to change the dialogue, the narrative in the political world, so that we are not creating refugees as somehow criminals crossing our borders, when, in fact, they are people who are honestly looking for a new place to lay their head. We’re bringing together people from all different parts of the globe — North, South, young, old — bringing together this very varied group of people, and realizing that they are all committed to doing something to improve the refugee system, and to making sure we properly honour the human rights interests of refugees. I think that we used these last couple of days to begin detailing what were the priorities. One of the serious issues we discovered while talking to members of the council who come from countries that are hosting refugees is that, under the present system, they may only get 15, 20, 30 percent of the resources that they need. And here’s the contradiction — it’s global in its impact, but the management continues to shrink behind borders. We’ll be working to ensure that it all hangs together; the key will be that it will be independent. It will attempt to look at these issues in a practical, but over the horizon, way. It will be, I think, one of the defining issues, and right now we need a better governance to make it work.

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