Mayors Can Help the Refugee Compact

Mayors Can Help the Refugee Compact Turn Words Into Action
Jessica Brandt – Refugees Deeply – 29 May 2018

Will two years of work on the Global Compact on Refugees produce more than a piece of paper? Jessica Brandt of the Brookings Institution argues that the involvement of mayors and other urban leaders is critical to the Compact’s success.

FOR NEARLY TWO years, world leaders have been engaged in a process of developing a new global compact for refugees (GCR). The compact is designed to make responses to displacement more coherent and comprehensive, and implicitly, better suited to today’s reality.

In light of the increasingly urban nature of displacement, ensuring that this process produces more than just a piece of paper will depend in no small part on how and whether local authorities are engaged in implementation.

That’s because today, meeting the needs of refugees requires more than providing emergency assistance in camps. It also means delivering long-term social services in urban contexts.

It’s welcome then, that the current draft of the compact recognizes local authorities as relevant stakeholders and invites their engagement. The draft compact acknowledges that local partners have a role to play in measuring the impact of hosting, protecting and assisting refugees, in order to assess gaps in international cooperation. It also calls on the international community to support the strengthening of local institutional capacities, commits the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) to supporting twinning arrangements that enable cities hosting refugees to share good practices and innovative approaches, and argues for the deployment of dedicated development resources to support host communities.

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Jessica Brandt is a fellow in Institutional Initiatives at Brookings. Her research interests include international security, multilateral institutions, and the geopolitical consequences of state fragility. Her recent work focuses on the refugee crisis in Europe.