Against the backdrop of the ongoing intergovernmental negotiations on the Global Compact on Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees, UNDEF participated in an interactive panel discussion on the political participation of migrants and refugees, hosted by International IDEA at UN Headquarters.
UNDEF Deputy Executive Head Hannah Davies highlighted four areas where UNDEF projects have enabled political participation of refugees and migrants: agency and voice, women’s empowerment, access to justice, and media and freedom of expression. Giving examples from active projects, she emphasised the importance of ownership by refugees themselves and stressed how political participation in the broadest sense was fundamental to refugees and migrants being able to access their rights – from holding local government accountable for services in Jordan; to Syrian women organizing themselves to generate their own projects to better integrate into their host community.
The panel discussion also saw the New York launch of the report Political Participation of Refugees: Bridging the Gaps. Among the report’s conclusions are recommendations on the significant role played by civil society organizations to empower refugees and migrants, and the need for host countries and donors to enable refugees to participate in their own organizations to ensure freedom of expression and association.
Other speakers on the panel were Sana Mustafa, Founding Member of The Network for Refugee Voices; Niall McCann, Lead Electoral Advisor United Nations Development Programme; and Patricia Ann Torsney, Permanent Observer to the United Nations Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)
The report was presented by Lina Antara, Programme Officer Democracy and Diversity, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, International IDEA.
A webcast of the event is available at LINK