UNGA71: Roundtable 4 on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants

Statement given by Norway's Minister of Immigration and Integration Sylvi Listhaug on Roundtable 4: Global compact for responsibility-sharing for refugees; respect for international Law at the High-level meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants, 19 September 2016.

Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

During the last year, many states and regions have been tested with regard to the refugee and migration situation. I am therefore grateful for the UN's timely initiative to convene this high-level meeting.

This represents a starting point for a process for the next couple of years. Hopefully, we will find better ways to handle large refugee and migration situations. Experience has shown that we need a new, comprehensive approach and broad alliances to handle those situations at an early stage.

Conflict resolution and prevention must be a top priority for the international community. Furthermore, all governments must respect their citizens' human rights. People should not have to flee their countries.

The global refugee system is under pressure because refugee movements are mixed with persons migrating for better economic opportunities, or because they don't see hope for a better future in their home countries. These are not considered to be in need of international protection.

It is therefore vital to safeguard the international refugee system, so that those in need of protection can access that in accordance with international law. At the same time, we need to manage other forms of migration through addressing the root causes.

Solutions for the vast majority must be found in the home country or in the region, even when this may be a long-term process. For receiving states, the level of immigration must be sustainable and based on global responsibility-sharing.

The asylum institute is a specific tool for giving international protection to those who need it. It is important to preserve the institute for this purpose. To have a well-functioning, and legitimate asylum system, it is necessary to have a well-functioning system for returns for those who do not need international protection. Such migrants must be re-admitted to their home countries in an orderly manner while having their human rights respected.

I am particularly concerned with unaccompanied minors travelling on their own. In our discussions in the coming years, both with regard to refugees and migrants, we need to look at innovative approaches for this group.

I agree with the priorities for international action set out in the paper for this Round Table from the President of the General Assembly dated 8 September.

Neighbouring states to a country in war or conflict will be the most affected by people fleeing the violence. Given the trend that conflicts are not solved quickly, hosting large refugee populations become an enormous burden on the host countries.

From a donor state's perspective, it is clear that more refugees can be assisted in the region by financial support rather than by assisting them in Norway, for instance. With limited budgets, we collectively need to ask how and where we best can assist the most.

An important task ahead of us, is to work out mechanisms that will guide, or oblige, states as to when and how we should step up our efforts in a specific refugee situation. This would require that host states are prepared and see the value in this. The international assistance should also benefit the national population of that country.

From my point of view, it would be very welcome if states that have not ratified the refugee convention of 1951 and other relevant international laws decided to do so, or to lift their reservations. It would also be helpful if states developed national asylum regulations and practices in accordance with international law, and were able and willing to process asylum applications.

To start such processes are demanding. However, there should be many ways in which states could cooperate to share experiences on the development of asylum legislation, systems and practices within existing organisations such as UNHCR and EU. It is also possible with bilateral cooperation between specific countries.

Norway is ready to participate and contribute in the coming process in a constructive manner. We see this work as very important and meaningful, and we are looking forward to cooperating with you all.

Thank you.