The Global Refugee Forum: What It Is and Why It Matters

17th December 2019

On 17 and 18 December the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, and the government of Switzerland will be hosting the first-ever Global Refugee Forum. Political leaders, business leaders, activists, and experts from around the world will be meeting in Geneva to advance the rights of refugees.

It may be difficult to wrap your head around this, but right now there are more than 70 million people who have been forced to leave their homes due to violence, political unrest, or environmental disasters. 

The Global Refugee Forum is all about the idea that if we come together, we can protect and advance the rights of refugees, as well as help their host countries and countries of origin. We think it is desperately needed and we want to play our part!


Building with flags flying


Here’s the Nitty-Gritty

In 2018 the United Nations General Assembly announced the Global Compact on Refugees, a framework meant to promote international cooperation to ensure that host communities are supported and that people who have been displaced can lead productive lives. The compact was an important step, because it’s been clear for years now that no comprehensive, sustainable response was ever going to be found if countries and aid organizations don’t collaborate and provide a shared and equitable response. When we come together, it’s amazing what we can achieve. 

The Global Compact on Refugees has four key objectives:

  • Ease pressures on host countries
  • Enhance refugee self-reliance
  • Expand access to third-country solutions
  • Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity

This is a powerful commitment from the member states with the potential to make a huge difference in many people’s lives. The forum was created to make sure members follow through —it’s when we’ll get to transform words into much-needed action.

Hands holding the world

The Power of Standing Together

Right now, more than 70 million people are on the move looking for a safe place to call home. That’s a hefty challenge. But it’s one we can handle if we all work together. 

Thousands of you have stood with us and taken action on refugee issues over the past three years. The Global Refugee Forum is our chance to show the world that people everywhere support a fairer immigration system that provides protection to people who have been displaced—no exceptions.

We’re going to be encouraging world leaders at the forum to support the three policy areas on:

  • Pushing for greater international cooperation: We need greater cooperation between allied organisations and countries to make our communities thrive
  • Improving national systems of asylum and resettlement: We need national policies that protect the right to asylum and advance human rights and dignity
  • Building connections: We need to support understanding and awareness between locals and newcomers.

We’ll also be highlighting everything our partners are doing in leading the movement to advance the rights of displaced people. We stand in solidarity with their work.


What Happens Next?

The Global Refugee Forum is an important step in driving better international cooperation. This is the world’s best opportunity to take immediate and effective action, and that’s exactly what we’re calling on our leaders to do. 

What can the rest of us do? Keep the pressure on your local politicians. Let them hear your voice. Asylum seekers and displaced people are our neighbours, our family, our friends. They are members of our community, and when members of our community need help, we step up. Are you ready to step up? Change will come if we all work together. Let’s start today.